What is it about?

This article looks at the 2012 Indian film, Shanghai, as an example of "realist fiction" which holds a mirror to how the Indian state envisions developing its rural and periurban areas into Shanghais of the future.

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Why is it important?

Though anthropologists rely on in-depth fieldwork to generate theories and knowledge, I show how one can apply an anthropological lens to realist films - especially those on political and social issues - to illuminate these processes and realities.


I have always been fascinated with richness of Indian cinema. Writing this article gave me the opportunity to bring my anthropological insights - which often rely on fieldwork rather than analyzing films - and my love for cinema. This has also helped me look more critically and imaginatively at the reality of contemporary Indian issues.

Proshant Chakraborty
Goteborgs Universitet

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This page is a summary of: The poetics and politics of ‘progress’ in neoliberal India: The state and its margins in Shanghai (2012), Studies in South Asian Film & Media, February 2021, Intellect, DOI: 10.1386/safm_00035_1.
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