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Department of Media & Communication

Central University of Tamil Nadu

Thiruvarur, Tamil Nadu

Call for Abstracts

Two-Day National Seminar on

Middle Aesthetics, Realism and Middle Class in/of Indian Cinema:

A Tribute to K Balachander
18-19th February 2016
Dear all,
The Department of Media & Communication, Central University of Tamil Nadu (CUTN), in
association with the Departments of English Studies and Tamil Studies, is organizing a twoday national seminar in tribute to the late South Indian filmmaker K Balachander, on 18th19th February, 2016, on the University campus at Neelakkudi, Thiruvarur. The seminar,
titled Middle Aesthetics, Realism and the Middle Class in/of Indian Cinema: A Tribute to K
Balachander, will have renowned film scholars from across the country presenting papers
on various aspects related to the central theme.
A detailed concept note about the seminar theme is attached below. We invite papers from
scholars working in areas related to the theme of the seminar. Abstracts of 300-500 words
may be sent to media.cutn@gmail.com by 15 January 2016. Selected participants will be
intimated by 25 January 2016. Full papers of 1500-2000 words should be submitted by email
by 31 January. There will be no registration fee. All registered participants will be offered
local accommodation on the days of the seminar as well as local hospitality, which includes
lunch and refreshments, but participants are requested to make their own arrangements for
For more details:
Dr Jenson Joseph: 09488117604
Ms Poarkodi Natarajan: 09480449726

Middle Aesthetics, Realism and

Middle Class in/of Indian Cinema:
A Tribute to K Balachander
Seminar theme note
If the emergence of the New Wave in Hindi Cinema during the 1970s owed much to the
attempts in South Indian film industries to combine the energies of realism and melodrama
in a commercially viable manner, it would not be an exaggeration to suggest that director K
Balachander pioneered the influential middle-aesthetics in the South. While Balachanders
films thematically dealt with the anxieties and ambitions of the consolidating middle class in
the South Indian states during the 1970s and the 80s predominantly within the aesthetic
economy of realism, the iconic women characters in them signalled towards the centrality
of affect and the intimate in their narrative universe. Thus, Balachanders films, and the
vibrant middle class cinema of the 1970s and 80s from across cinematic cultures in India in
general, offer us an intriguing set of texts to analyse the aesthetic trajectories of realism and
The seminar intends to discuss a few key themes in relation to the consolidation of middle
class and the emergence of middle aesthetics in cinema in India. The aesthetic hierarchy
between realism and melodrama, the incorporation of the star within the structures of
realism, the pedagogic relation towards the melodramatic popular, the representation of
the outside/exterior in relation to the domestic/intimate, the city or the countryside as the
backdrop, etc., are some of the themes that the middlebrow cinemas aesthetic conventions
pose towards us, which the seminar would take up for discussion.
We invite abstracts for paper presentations on different sub-themes under the broad rubric
of cinema in India and the middle class, including but not restricted to:

Stars, identification and affect:

Melodrama, women and domesticity
Middle class, cinema and modernity
Desire, sexuality and cinemas visceral forces
Madras and South Indian cinema
Bombay cinema and South India
Middle aesthetics and circuits of distribution
Urban space and the middle class