Final Update from Akhil

Madhubhala and Guru Dutt in Mr. and Mrs. ’55

Hello! This is my third and final blog update on the summer research I am conducting with Professor Ramya Sreenivasan. I am excited to conclude the work we have been doing together, as well as continue to support the research in the fall semester.

Over the course of this summer, I have watched and developed summaries and analyses of fifteen different Hindi films: Andaz (1949), Barsaat (1949), Awara (1951), Daag (1952), Do Bigha Zamin (1953), Adhikar (1954), Mr. and Mrs. ’55 (1955), C.I.D. (1956), Do Aankhen Barah Haath (1957), Naya Daur (1957), Pyaasa (1957), Mother India (1957), Navrang (1959), Dharmputra (1961), and Grahasti (1963). I also compiled a database with box office information for Hindi cinema from the 1940s to the 1970s based on data provided by Box Office India. Finally, I put together another spreadsheet that outlined the cast and crew of the films I watched, allowing us to observe patterns in networks of association in the Hindi film industry.

Considering the limited time period we had, I think that we accomplished our goals of developing preliminary research for a larger project on the growth of mass culture in India. There is still so much material and history to sift through in regards to this project, but I believe that this summer research has guided the direction of the analyses and themes we want to highlight. Through this research, I strengthened my communication and writing skills, while also gaining a deeper understanding of how databases and spreadsheets can be helpful in this type of research setting. I would also say that my enjoyment of this research has really made me consider an academic career more seriously, but it has also definitely bolstered my writing aspirations as well.

The next steps for this research will involve moving further into the Hindi cinema of the 1960s and observing how these films and production networks evolve during this decade. I hope to stay involved in some capacity during this next phase of research and will do my best to support the work of Professor Sreenivasan in any way that would be helpful.

As I conclude this blog update, I would like to thank Professor Sreenivasan for her endless support and gracious mentorship this summer. It has been such a pleasure working with and learning from her during this project, and I am happy to have supported her work. I would also like to thank the Center for the Advanced Study of India for offering this summer research assistantship to me and supporting the research of countless other important projects. I hope everyone has a great fall!

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About ukhil

Akhil Vaidya is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania studying communication. He is working as a research assistant with Professor Ramya Sreenivasan on a project about the making of mass culture in India.