Cinema as architectural event : the pleasurable anxieties of the multiplex culture in India




Chattopadhyay, Tupur

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My dissertation examines the gendered architectural space of the cinema hall in India through the different stages of its evolution from the earliest single-screens to the contemporary multiplex. My project critically analyses this transformation by connecting the spatial politics of the film theater to the gendered, classed, and caste-based ideas about ‘hygiene’ and ‘safety’ that have long circulated in the Indian imagination. I base my research on an extensive ethnography of the country’s most successful multiplex chain, PVR Cinemas, across several departments like design, security, business development, digital technology, staff recruitment and training along with site-specific case studies conducted in Delhi’s old single-screen cinemas. My research reconceptualizes notions of ‘public space’ and locates Indian cinema within the gendered architectural environment of its exhibition. In doing so, this project illuminates why the “malltiplex” (mall and multiplex), predicated upon producing, maintaining and circulating ‘safe’ and ‘clean’ spaces for women has come to dominate every aspect of film culture in India across production, narrative content, distribution, and exhibition. Ultimately, my project is a map of the encounter between new architectures for public “safety” and cinematic culture in the postcolonial South Asian city


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