Bertrand Russell in Bollyworld: film, the Cold War, and a postmortem on peace

Kaur, Raminder (2019) Bertrand Russell in Bollyworld: film, the Cold War, and a postmortem on peace. In: Bhagavan, Manu (ed.) India and the Cold War. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill. ISBN 9781469651163

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In 1967, British philosopher and social critic, Bertrand Russell, made a cameo appearance in a Hindi popular film, Aman (Peace, directed by Mohan Kumar). At the frail age of 94, such a remarkable performance was not to be repeated, and neither has it merited scholarly attention. The scene with Russell seems to run counter to the expectations of this kind of Indian cinema as it does to expectations of a renowned British thinker. Nevertheless, his appearance imbues a certain gravitas to the masala aesthetic that makes Russell both culturally and politically relevant to the film, and to an analysis of the larger Cold War context of the 1960s through the film. Including a real-life and scripted characters, the excerpt is not simply a documentary nor a drama, yet it is a document and drama of the era – a period in which India’s stance against the nuclear bomb epitomised by the views of its first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, was beginning to show signs of change. Even though the statesman had died three years before the film’s release, Russell’s presence in the film was, as I demonstrate in this chapter, to keep the Nehruvian vision alive. Containing elements of historical document and (melo)drama, the excerpt is an interpenetrative assemblage of the real and fictional that I call ‘docu-drama-ment’ to distinguish it from its nearest cousins, docudrama or “true story” cinema.

Item Type: Book Section
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Anthropology
School of Global Studies > International Development
Research Centres and Groups: Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies
Depositing User: Sharon Krummel
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2018 14:42
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2020 12:32

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