Networked Bollywood: How Star Power Globalized Hindi Cinema

Networked Bollywood provides interdisciplinary analysis of the role of the stars in the transformation of Hindi cinema into a global entertainment industry. The first Indian film was made in 1913. However, filmmaking was recognized as an industry almost a hundred years later. Yet, Indian films have been circulating globally since their inception. This book unearths this oft-elided history of Bollywood’s globalization through multilingual, transnational research and discursive cultural analysis. The author illustrates how over the decades, a handful of primarily male megastars, as the heads of the industry’s most prominent productions and corporations, combined overwhelming charismatic affect with unparalleled business influence. Through their “star switching power,” theorized here as a deeply gendered phenomenon and manifesting broader social inequalities, India’s most prominent stars instigated new flows of cinema, industrial collaborations, structured distinctive business models, influenced state policy and diplomatic exchange, thereby defining the future of Bollywood’s globalization.

Dr. Swapnil Rai is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Film, Television, and Media at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. As an interdisciplinary scholar, she works at the intersection of media studies, critical cultural communication, women’s and gender studies, and industry studies. Focusing on the global south, she investigates how transnational networked cultures intersect with the media industries and with questions of policy, geopolitics, and audiences.