SOAS University of London

South Asia Section, School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics

Rakesh Sengupta


Rakesh Sengupta
Rakesh Sengupta
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Thesis title:
An Archaeology of Screenwriting in Early Indian Cinema (1930s-1950s)
Internal Supervisors

PhD Research

The Euro-Americocentric scholarship on screenwriting has produced linear histories of screenwriting practice over the long twentieth century with reference to extensive archival collections of film scenarios and scripts. In the context of early Indian cinema, however, the archival absence of such primary sources has largely invisibilised the early practices of screenwriting across Bombay and Calcutta. In my research, I engage with this unfortunate archival absence of ‘bound scripts’ as a heuristic rather than a handicap, embarking on an archaeological project which collates the discontinuous cross-section of screenwriting artefacts, events and practices in the absence of a formally evolving primary text.


‘The Death of the Author in Pyaasa’ at CCLPS conference on Empathy in Material Culture and Critical Methodologies in SOAS University of London, United Kingdom. 18–19 June, 2018.

‘Tracing the Talkie Transition: A Study of Early Screenwriting Practices in South Asia (1927–31)’ at Screen Studies Conference in University of Glasgow, Scotland. 29 June–1 July, 2018.

‘Mapping the Manual: A Study of the Circulation and Consumption of American Screenwriting Manuals in South Asia (1920s-30s)’ at SHARP Annual Conference in Western Sydney University, Australia. 9–12 July, 2018.

‘At the Margins of Media: Screenwriting Practice and Discourse in the First Indian Talkies’ at Screenwriting Research Network Conference in Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, Italy. 13–15 September, 2018.