Sentimental songs, melodrama and the nature of filmic narrative in Hindi cinema (1951-1963)
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 21:39 authored by Jasmine Sofia Jannif Dean
This thesis examines the dominance of the melodramatic voice in Hindi popular cinema, traces its emergence and analyses its consolidation between 1951 and 1963 - a period often referred to as the "Golden age of Hindi cinema". Sentimental songs during this period came to dominate Hindi cinema not only because of their own aesthetic power, but also because of their direct connection to the narrative structure of films. After examining the place of songs and dramatic performance since the arrival of talkies in 1931, the thesis moves to a more detailed discussion of the power of songs and music, their emotional appeal, and their place in the narrative flow of the films of the 1950s and early 1960s. The analysis links songs to cinematic genres including the melodramatic epics, to the work of key auteurs, and to reception aesthetics, notably rasa theory. The thesis argues that there is an emotional dimension to Hindi cinema which songs of this period carefully construct, and this construction elicits moments of "cathartic" experience from the spectator. Here the classic rasas of karunā [the tragic] and śringāra [the erotic] play an important role in connecting narratives to the moods captured in the songs. The analysis provides a broad overview of characteristics from films of the period 1951-1963 - notably their generic registers, their singers, their musicians, their modds and their rasas - and presents a close reading of a selection of key films and songs to identify specific examples of the melodramatic voice.