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Film and Politics in India

Cinematic Charisma as a Gateway to Political Power

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Dhamu Pongiyannan

In the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, all five of the Chief Ministers since 1967 have been former actors. This provocative book debunks the notion of Bollywood as the synecdoche of Indian cinema to explore the hitherto less studied, yet highly influential cinema in South Asia. Developing the concept of the politics of sentiment, the author examines the ways in which actor-politicians constructed their cinematic charisma, projecting themselves as messiahs saving the people from injustices, to create a political appeal to voters. The resilience of cinematic charisma, as Indian society undergoes massive socio-economic changes, provides a compelling study of modern politics, cinema, celebrity and the culture of the subcontinent.

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