media, information, the contemporary

We are delighted to share the first call for applications for research positions at Mecila (Maria Sibylla Merian International Centre for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences: Conviviality-Inequality in Latin America) in 2020.

The Centre will award 4 Junior Fellowships to candidates who have obtained a doctoral degree in humanities or social sciences within the last 5 years and 5 Senior Fellowships for internationally recognized scholars who hold a permanent senior position at a university or research institution.

The scholarships will have a duration of 7 months and both positions are allocated at Mecila’s hub in São Paulo, Brazil. The monthly stipend is above average, covering local living costs.

Applicants should send the required documents no later than 15 January 2020 via e-mail to the Coordination Office in São Paulo. All the requirements for the subscription are detailed at the following address:

We’re happy to announce the publication of BioScope vol. 10. no. 1.

With the winds of authoritarianism sweeping across democracies in South Asia as elsewhere, the question of how to articulate the new social and political contexts in which we find ourselves is as urgent as ever. Censorship, surveillance and populism have taken on new, changed and sometimes spectacular forms which older vocabularies and modes of interpretation do not always appear to counter or even capture. How to speak of, and to, this moment is a challenge that faces scholars, activists and citizens alike. The original articles in this issue of BioScope do not appear to be particularly directed to an investigation of the current moment and all four are driven by practices of close reading. Nonetheless, each of these articles can be understood to investigate what the film makes sense in contexts of repression or elision. Together, their authors ask how cinema might express or make concretely present what is otherwise beyond the register of the articulable. They point to the narrative elements, generic forms, structural aspects, star texts, minor technologies or small media that provide different opportunities for recounting realities that are elided in mainstream or official accounts or that appear beyond expression

Editorial: Hidden Accounts
Ravi Vasudevan, Rosie Thomas, S. V. Srinivas, Debashree Mukherjee and Lotte Hoek


Agami (The Time Ahead, 1984), the First “Short Film” of Bangladesh: Toward a New Cinematic Aesthetic of Imaging Time and Nation)
Fahmida Akhter

The Islamic Subject of Home Cinema of Kerala
Mohamed Shafeeq Karinkurayil

Evolution of Dada Uttam Kumar: Performing Masculinity and the Disillusioned Bhadralok Mahanayak in the 1970s’ Popular Melodramas
Smita Banerjee

Visions of Queer Anarchism: Gender, Desire, and Futurity in Omar Ali Khan’s Zibahkhana
Syeda Momina Masood

Book Reviews

Book Review: Ashvin Immanuel Devasundaram, India’s New Independent Cinema: The Rise of the Hybrid
Reviewed by Tupur Chatterjee

Book Review: Giulia Battaglia, Documentary Film in India: An Anthropological History
Reviewed by Deborah Matzner

We’re happy to announce the publication of BioScope Vol. 9. No. 2.

With every passing year, there is a mounting evidence of the inextricable links between what was once the cinema and a host of other media forms. This situation presents an interesting set of challenges to students of contemporary cinema, often requiring them to mobilise a range of methodologies and to step out of the comfort zones of language, form and textuality. Today, the film historian too is not exempt from the need to engage the dispersal of the moving image and of a shared and stable universe of cultural forms. So Bazin’s question ‘what is cinema?’ remains central to a cinema studies that is intermedial and interdisiplinary.

The historical evolution of cinema and its leakage beyond traditional spaces of exhibition has been a recurring theme on the pages of BioScope. Our latest issue covers different periods, topics, regions and objects. From archival research to close reading of filmic and other texts and ethnography, the authors draw on very different methodologies for their analysis to offer valuable insights into established as well as emerging areas of study. These include the history of the film script, production cultures of our film industries, the intersections of old and new technologies of the moving image, mobility of images and accrual of meaning in circulation, cross-media flows as well the growing interface between regimes of spectatorship.

Ravi S. Vasudevan, Rosie Thomas, S.V. Srinivas, Debashree Mukherjee, Lotte Hoek


Writing from the Margins of Media: Screenwriting Practice and Discourse During the First Indian Talkies
Rakesh Sengupta

Memories of Action: Tracing Film Society Cinephilia in India
Abhija Ghosh

Anxieties of Seeing: The Sensational World of Cinema, Digital Media and Politics
Navaneetha Mokkil

Crossmedia Flows of Documentary Images and the Transnational Communicative Figuration Surrounding Gestational Surrogacy in India
Nadja-Christina Schneider

Behind the Green Door: Unpacking the Item Number and Its Ecology
Silpa Mukherjee


From Single Screen to YouTube: Tracking the Regional Blockbuster
S. V. Srinivas, V. H. C. V. Megha Shyam, Raghav Nanduri, Vasundhara Singhal, Vishnu Dath R.

The Sarai Programme invites applications for internships for a period of 2 months (18th February to 19th April 2019) at the Sarai archive. Over the years, we have built a rich archive of field notes, government reports, images, films and video footage, audio collections, film and trade periodicals, posters, comics and newspaper clippings through various initiatives, projects and fellowship programmes, such as Publics and Practices in the History of the Present (PPHP), Cybermohalla (neighbourhood media labs), Independent Fellowship Programme (2002-2007), and the Social Media Fellowships.

Interns will be required to work on the audio and visual collections at the archive. The aim of the internship is to produce a complete thematic and material map – in the form of catalogues, digitized documents, and annotations – of these collections. A stipend will be offered for the duration of the internships.

Interested candidates should send a one-page CV and a statement of purpose no longer than one page to with the subject line: ‘Archival Internships’ by 30th January 2019.

Please note: This call is now closed.

The Centre for the Study of Developing Societies invites applications for the post of Research Assistant for Data Support. The qualifications and eligibility criteria for the position would be as follows:

Essential Requirement:

1. Graduate in any subject from a recognized university.
2. Data analysis on software with management skills.
3. Good understanding of Data with relevant experience of 5 years.


1. Experience of working in a social science research organization or university or in an organization of national repute.
2. Knowledge of statistical analysis software like SPSS/SAS/STATA.
3. Experience of analyzing Election Data.
4. Some programing skills may be an advantage.

The maximum age limit for the position is 40 years. Salary would be commensurate with qualifications and experience and as per central government pay scales.

The last date for submitting applications is Friday, 25 January 2019.

Please send your applications by email to Ms. Jayasree Jayanthan on jaya(at) or by snail mail to the Administrative Officer, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, 29 Rajpur Road, Delhi 110054.

CSDS invites applications for the annual workshop for research scholars on ‘Mainstream and the Margins: Theory, Practice and Methods’ to be held at CSDS between 13-26 February 2019. The workshop supported by ICSSR, New Delhi is designed to hone research skills, impart theoretical knowledge and build methodological capacity. This year’s workshop will address the broad theme of “Mainstream and Margins” in Indian society. Participants will engage in a range of readings, seminar-style discussions, and special lectures. The instructors will be primarily from CSDS faculty.

Registered research students in the beginning to intermediate stages of their doctoral project, and advanced MPhil students may apply. At the end, participants will have the opportunity to review their research proposals in light of what they have learnt during the workshop.

The workshop is primarily for SC/ST candidates but applicants from other categories may also apply. All applicants should mention their caste category in the CV.

The workshop will admit thirty (30) participants, including a maximum of fifteen (15) outstation candidates. Outstation SC/ST candidates will be provided 3rd AC return train fare and a stipend of Rs. 15,000/- for the duration of the workshop. Course materials will be made available to all selected candidates.

Those seeking admission should write to the CSDS Administrative Officer Ms Jayasree Jayanthan ( with an application letter, a current CV of no more than 3 pages, the names of 2 referees, and a synopsis (600-900 words) highlighting research questions and methodological framework.

The last date for receiving applications is 21 January 2019.

ICAS:MP, TM7 (Thematic Module 7), invites applications for junior researcher positions. These are for archival collections, ethnographic research and interviews, and legal research, under the supervision of module coordinators Ravi Vasudevan (CSDS) and Srirupa Roy (University of Goettingen). The thematic focuses of the research include:

Social Media, Data and Information Infrastructures

This project looks at data and information infrastructures that have emerged from the rise of social media. The expansion of social media and low-cost mobile phones has seen rapidly growing data
collection infrastructures at all points in India. Governments have been modernising data collection while addressing paper-based systems. Private companies work with a host of smaller intermediaries and advanced analytics to analyse and make sense of data.  Networks that work with mobile phones increasingly rely on a steady stream of data about user experiences. Research sites may include government information systems, small scale data collection agencies, media companies, new start-ups that take social media experiences as a significant site of their work. Researchers should be able to combine field work with an interest in conceptual issues posed by social and digital media.

Crowds, Media and Democracy

Research will focus on crowd formations in and through media, from photography and poster art through newsreel and fiction film and sonic technologies such as loudspeakers, to video and the contemporary virality of social media circulation and aggregation. It will explore how media have been deployed to capture, project, invite identification with and mobilize people as mass formations. The project will explore a range of media archives, and their framing by key categories of political discourse, crowd, mass, procession, assembly, riot, uprising, revolution; how they are attached to legal discourse, evidence, culpability, and contest; and how they relate to the political, in terms of tracking key sites, vectors and scales of transformation.

Media in Times of War

This project will explore the relationship between war, media technologies, and the register of the political. Our aim will be to look at how media – radio programmes, photographs and posters, newsreel, propaganda, instructional, educational and fiction films, video film, websites, blogs  and social media – capture and reflect on war, at the front, in barracks and camps, but also in the relation between “home” and the front, as zones which produce men, material and affect. We are also interested in the latency of war, as in the dispersal, distribution, and supra-legal shoring up of military force into border regions, and through paramilitary networks. We are interested in levels of information and publicity about military and paramilitary forms, the levels of visibility and secrecy through which the relationship of the civil and the military is calibrated. We are also interested in the entanglement of media technology with war – as technologies of vision, of seeing and targeting, of listening and surveillance, as deployed by humans and machines – and in the overlap of peace-time and war-time technologies.

Law and Media

This project addresses the penetration of law by media, ie, where law has more than an external and regulatory relationship to media, but is a sphere whose material forms, practices and symbolic edifice are constituted by media. Here, we would like to consider how police stations, legal practices, law courts, forensic procedures and cyber-labs become the site for a variety of media practices, discourses about media, and relate to the complicated phenomena of the media trial.  Scholarship attentive to law and its cultural forms has noted how the court has a certain theatrical quality, in its formal and ritual qualities of performance. It also acquires a cinematic force in the articulation of the visual, the visceral, and the verbal, as it re-expresses the boundaries of permissible discourse in adjudicating censorship. In this project we propose to research more broadly the media form of the world of law: in legislative acts, first information reports and police diaries, judicial pronouncements, case law and file work. We will research paper and speech, graphics and indexical traces, and the status of recorded speech on tape, cassette, as audio-file, new analytic engagements with the voice, and the use of analog and digital video as evidence. We propose ethnographic research, legal research into legislations and case law, and archival research.

Journalism after the Emergency

In collaboration with ICAS: MP Thematic Module 3 on democracy, researchers will be invited to work with, classify and add to interviews conducted with leading journalists going back to the time of the Indian Emergency, 1975-1977.

Research will be conducted under the supervision of module coordinators. The duration of research, and the level of compensation, will be determined by project needs and researcher experience. Send a statement of purpose of one page, indicating how you would contribute to any of these research themes, along with a CV, to:

Laila Abu-Er-Rub, Head of Administration, ICAS:MP

The deadline has been extended to 25 November 2018.

We’re happy to announce the publication of BioScope Vol. 9. No. 1.

The articles in this issue of BioScope explore the ongoing conundrum of how to access historical spectatorship when records are scarce or non-existent. Our authors examine traces left on radio-listening in small town India, letters in Bangladeshi film magazines, emotionally charged memories linked to once thriving cinema sites in elite urban India and remote, rural hinterlands. Temporality emerges as an object of inquiry, in motifs of disappearance, ruination and decay, from the ghosts of past cinema-going practices and the rubble of a former cinema-house, to radio stations’ now empty mail rooms, or the Mumbai dressmen’s deliberate ruining of film costumes as a way of inserting time into the on-screen world.

Ravi S. Vasudevan, Rosie Thomas, S.V. Srinivas, Debashree Mukherjee, Lotte Hoek


Imagining Sound through the Pharmaish: Radios and Request-postcards in North India, c. 1955–1975
Vebhuti Duggal

From Villain to Hero: Masculinity and Political Aesthetics in the Films of Bangladeshi Action Star Joshim
Arpana Awwal

Wrinkles in Time: Ageing Costume in Hindi Film
Clare M. Wilkinson

From the Ruins of Chanakya: Exhibition History and Urban Memory
Ipsita Sahu


Agnipareeksha (Trial by Fire)
Amit Madheshiya

Book Reviews

Book Review: Jayson Beaster-Jones and Natalie Sarrazin (Eds), Music in Contemporary Indian Film: Memory, Voice, Identity
Kuhu Tanvir

Book Review: Swarnavel Eswaran Pillai, Madras Studios: Narrative, Genre, and Ideology in Tamil Cinema
Hrishikesh Ingle

Book Review: Shannon Mattern, Code + Clay … Data + Dirt: Five Thousand Years of Urban Media
Debashree Mukherjee

‘Lives of Data’ Workshop, 06-07 January 2017, The Sarai Programme, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi.

Call for Abstracts

‘Data’ has been recently termed as the new oil, new soil, new world currency and the raw material for the new industrial revolution. It has been hypothesised that the era of Big Data will finally see the ‘end of theory’. This hyperbole has it that the new technologies being developed today can produce truth based on computations of large amounts of machine readable digital data. Beyond such deterministic claims, the ‘Data Revolution’ indeed poses compelling theoretical and methodological challenges in all fields with stakes in knowledge. The present conjuncture, we would argue, is loaded with possibilities for rethinking ‘data-driven knowledge’ through longer histories of classification, enumeration, quantification, techno-scientific practices, and forms of media storage, retrieval, computational analysis and use.

Scholarship in the emerging field of data studies has established close connections with science & technology studies (STS), and media and software studies. There is now a growing body of work which questions the Big Data hubris and the excesses of the post Web 2.0 digital deluge. ‘Raw Data’, as Geoffrey Bowker and Lisa Gitelman among others have suggested, is an ‘oxymoron’. In the Indian context, concerns about statistics, governance and knowledge, evident in the histories of colonial census, the work of P C Mahalanobis at the Indian Statistical Institute and the Planning Commission, the emergence of scientific computing in the 1950s-60s, government regulation of media, electronics and telecom, provide a vivid background to think about the new technics, materiality and aesthetics of our digital cultures.

In times when Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have passed their initial developmental hype-cycles and mobile phones have somewhat flattened the so-called ‘digital divides’ (while creating many new ones), the fields of information research in India are grappling with socio-technical reconfigurations of a widening scope and scale. The projections and contestations around our much promoted march towards a #DigitalIndia with the world’s largest biometric database (#Aadhaar); a nation-wide digging campaign for broadband connectivity in villages and the building of one hundred #SmartCities; and the intense pursuit of the ‘Next Billion’ users by a floating array of large technology companies and startups (#FreeBasics, #StartupIndia); have inundated the space for reflection and critique. The many known and unknown lives and after-lives of data in this ecosystem of flux demand description, interpretation, concepts, and – if the data permits – theory.

In the past Sarai has organised workshops on ‘Social & Cultural Lives of Information’ and the ‘Lives of Information’, to reflect upon the cultures of information practices and the connections between colonial and post-colonial information infrastructures in South Asia. Continuing our focus on contemporary realities, ICTs and infrastructures, the ‘Lives of Data’ workshop aims to encourage research on pertinent questions concerning ‘data’ – its imaginaries, infrastructures, knowledge politics, and techno-science and media cultures in India and South Asia.

The ‘Lives of Data’ workshop hopes to bring together interdisciplinary researchers and practitioners to examine the historical and emergent conditions of data-driven knowledge production and circulation in Indian and South Asian contexts. We are interested in a conversation which dynamically moves back and forth in science, technology and media history and anthropology to reflect upon the many layered abstractions and materialisations of data, information and knowledge.

The key questions which the workshop will explore are:

Workshop themes include:

The Sarai Programme invites submission of abstracts for the ‘Lives of Data’ workshop. Besides academic researchers, we strongly encourage media, design and software practitioners to apply for the workshop. Abstracts should not exceed 300 words, and should be sent to by 15 September, 2016, with the subject heading ‘Proposal for the Lives of Data Workshop.’ Authors of the selected abstracts will be notified by 01 October, 2016.

The workshop will be held on 06-07 January, 2017 at Sarai-CSDS, 29 Rajpur Road, Delhi. The Sarai Programme will cover three days of accommodation for outstation participants. In addition, participants from India will be eligible for travel support.

The Sarai Programme is committed to developing a public architecture for creating knowledge and creative communities. In keeping with this commitment, we seek to develop a community of scholars, writers and practitioners who are motivated to make the materials and outcome of research available for public access and circulation, with the understanding that an imaginative engagement with social experience will be best fostered by a sharing of information, ideas, research materials and resources. We see our system of Short Term Research Projects as a resource that will be built on by many people working whether individually or in groups, but with a sense of collective endeavour and public purpose.

The Call for Proposals for the Short Term Research Projects in Social and Digital Media attracted over 90 applications from all over the country, and it took a careful scrutiny of all the applications to reach our decision. We received applications from scholars as well as practitioners, young researchers and older, and proposals looked at a wide range of themes. The applications testify to an emerging research interest in developments in the last decade, as researchers and practitioners strive to reflect on the contemporary histories and techno-material practices opened by social media in India. Due to limited resources, we were unable to support many interesting proposals. We encourage those interested in the field to keep track of lectures and workshops and other work Sarai is planning to develop in the area of social media.

Please see below excerpts from selected proposals for this year’s Short Term Research Projects in Social Media.

Digital Identities: The Online Circulation of Bodo VCD films and Music Videos

Ankush Bhuyan

This project aims to capture the current moment where social media intersects with VCD films and music videos, in their entirety or in the form of clips available online, and questions of Bodo identity. What is it to be Bodo? How does social media play a role in the formation and the consolidation of identities? Can the use of technology and aesthetics in the VCD films and music videos provide some insight on the above questions? Through this study I hope to shed some light on the use of social media that may link to larger questions from the region regarding identity, culture and circulation of mediatised images within a political movement.

Media and Mobilization: Digital Media and the Shia Public Sphere in West Bengal

Epsita Halder

I look at how the multifarious ways of consumption, reception and re-enactment of digitized texts open up various possibilities to contextualize Shia communities on how to become a community, shattering monolithic assumptions. My project tries to locate digital culture in Shia districts of Bengal to understand identity formation of the community after the advent of new media. Engaging with this new visual-aural piety of these diverse modalities of transmission and reception, I locate, trace and analyse the new efforts to identify contemporary Shia communities.

A Practice Perspective on Technologies used in Transportation Studies

Onkar Hoysala

In this project I consider one area of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) research – modelling and simulation. The questions that will guide my research include: How are transportation modelling and simulation (M&S) software, which are often developed for contexts outside of India, shaping the practice of model and simulation designers in India? How do the structures embedded in the technologies by design, shaping the outcome of the M&S work being carried out? How are the social structures around the use of these technologies (the context) shaping the practice? What structuring resources (such as vocabularies, for example) are emerging around the use of these technologies, and how? Do these resources get reified in daily practice? What is the nature of the reflexive relationship between practice of the M&S designers, and the M&S technologies? How is the practice of the M&S designers shaping the technologies? How is the contextualised practice of the M&S designers in Indian contexts shaping the domain of ITS itself? How is the practice shaping the social structures?

Broadcast to Broadband: Televisual experiences in the Age of the Digital

Ritika Pant

With the Indian audiences being constantly exposed to transnational television content in the form of popular TV series like Game of Thrones, House of Cards or even Zindgai Gulzar Hai and Humsafar, they have found newer ways to watch, post, distribute and react to this content through the online medium. Television content is no more limited to a television screen but expands to multiple screen formats including mobile phones, laptops or tablets. The viewing also takes place in mobile environments as opposed to the fixed space of a living room. Moreover, the content that is originally produced for television audiences, when consumed via the online/digital medium, transmutes televisual aesthetics and produces a new kind of aural and visual experience that is specific to contemporary convergence culture. This project, thus, seeks to engage with the interactions between an older medium of broadcast (television) with a newer means of distribution (internet) and explore how this new interface is introducing us to the “post-broadcast” moment.

‘Culture of Downloading’ in Khandesh region and the Story of Transfer of Media: An Auto-Ethnographic Study

Shiva Thorat

The small business of ‘copy-paste’ and transferring media material into memory cards of mobile phones is common to small towns like Shirpur and in larger cities like Pune, Mumbai. Today you can find boards of ‘yaha pe gaane, movies download kiye jate hai’. (we download songs movies into the memory cards) in Shirpur. The current study seeks to explain what kind of equations and notions of society associated with these ‘downloading workers’ and their consumers.

Incrementality in Digital Consumption within Informal Urban Settlements: Tracing Purchasing Patterns of Mobile Technology through Mobile Recharge Kiosks

Swati Janu

The research aims to analyze the patterns of mobile technology purchases – data recharge and offline media download on phones – through phone recharge kiosks in informal settlements. These kiosks dot every major junction and main street in most informal settlements, much like kirana or neighborhood stores. Acting as community hubs, many of them provide other services such as mobile repairs or cylinder gas refills. Connecting this network of local entrepreneurs are the middlemen who are the sales agents of different service provider companies. Through research on the mobile recharge kiosk owners, the sales agents and the customers who frequent the kiosks – the research aims to present the network of pre-paid mobile technology spread out in informal settlements. The analysis of this network is important to delve deeper into the incremental nature of its consumption.

The Returned: The Rise of B-movie Cinephilia

Vibhushan Subba

More often than not B-movies have been discarded as ‘trash’, ‘sleaze’, ‘porn’ and put down for their ‘bad taste’ and ‘horrifying’ content. It has existed in the shadow of the Bombay mainstream film as a marginalized figure, eking out an existence in the obscure recesses of cinematic ecology. However, the transformation of the visual culture from analog to digital has given birth to a new breed of cinephilia centered on a love for the obscure, the disreputable, the discarded and the forgotten. Born completely on the internet this cinephilia lives through fan pages, YouTube channels, Facebook and Twitter pages, blogs and underground screenings. This project seeks to track the creation, nature and evolution of this cinephilia -which has produced a mobile and alternative archive- in order to understand the altered relationship between the producers of content and digital technology and stage a debate around censorship, ownership and alternative histories.








1-The Wager on Cinema

The Sarai Programme invites you to the second screening of the film series titled, The Wager on Cinema: Rahul Roy’s The Factory‘.

The respondents for this film are Jeebesh Bagchi and Prabhu Mohapatra.

Date: 30 March, 2016
Time: 4PM (Tea will be served at 3:30PM)
Venue: The Sarai Programme, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, 29, Rajpur Road, Civil Lines, Delhi – 110054.

About ‘The Wager on Cinema’-
How do we estimate the value, aesthetic force, and meaning of cinema today? As media experience, technological change has transformed it beyond recognition, its material forms altered by analog and digital video formats, and the modes of circulating, viewing, accessing cinema and making it have expanded exponentially. And yet, the dream and ambition of cinema as we have known it has not dissipated, the desire to congregate audiences to participate in a distinct world of experience, whether to excite, amuse, to move or to solicit reflection and engagement, to bear witness and to mobilize.

For us at Sarai, the wager on cinema carries high stakes. It means renewing a pact with a bid to explore experience, to take film technique as a vehicle of the unexpected, making connections that take us aback, working out strategies to navigate media’s capacity to deceive – to sting the audience as much as expose secretive acts – through a forensic analytics, through ethical calibration, but also playfully, ironically. For us, such a wager also places emphasis on process, how things are done, how techniques are used, what evidence is presented, what judgments are made, how publics are engaged, framing the cinema as an act of research. In this series, Sarai will screen films to shift focus, to conjure up unusual images and sounds, novel techniques and subject matter, and will organise discussions with practitioners, researchers and an interested public to renew our investment in the cinema, to capture what it means in our times.


Synopsis of ‘The Factory’ – Dir. Rahul Roy, 132 mins
147 workers of India’s biggest automobile manufacturing company Maruti Suzuki are on trial for the murder of a senior manager and 2500 workers dismissed. It has been two and a half years and the case drags on. Their bail application has been rejected by the courts. On each hearing they are led to the court room by the police while families line up to catch a glimpse. The defence lawyers plan their strategy in the court canteen. Justice seems a dim hope. The film follows the fate of the under trial workers, families and dismissed workers to investigate the underbelly of industrial conflict and the elusive nature of justice.

Rahul Roy is a filmmaker whose films have traveled across the globe to various documentary film festivals and have won several prestigious awards.

Jeebesh Bagchi is member of the Raqs Media Collective

Prabhu Mohapatra is a Historian at the University of Delhi.

The Sarai Programme invites applications for participation in a Masterclass to be conducted by Geert Lovink. The two day Masterclass is divided into six sessions and engages with the following topics –

The masterclass will include a 20 minute, one-on-one conversation in which individual proposals will be discussed. The masterclass will be held on 11 and 12 March, 2016 at Sarai-CSDS.

Applicants are required to submit the following

Applications should be sent to with the heading ‘Application – Masterclass with Geert Lovink’. The last date for submitting applications is 12 February, 2016.

Geert Lovink is a renowned media theorist, internet critic and author of Zero Comments (2007), Networks Without a Cause (2012) and Social Media Abyss (2016). Since 2004 he is a researcher in the School for Communication and Media Design at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (HvA) where he is the coordinator of the Institute of Network Cultures (INC). Recently his centre organized conferences, publications and research networks such as Unlike Us (alternatives in social media), Society of the Query (the culture of search), MoneyLab (bitcoins, crowdfunding & internet revenue models) and a project on publishing and future of art criticism. In 2015 their digital publishing research was split off into the Publishing Lab. Since 2009 he is a Professor at the European Graduate School (Saas-Fee) where he supervises PhD students.

The Sarai Programme, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi, invites proposals from individuals for research projects on contemporary social and digital media, its ecologies and histories. Selected research proposals will be supported with a short-term grant for six months, and the researchers will present their studies in a workshop at Sarai-CSDS at the end of the period.


We are interested in the following themes:

In select cases, applications from themes beyond the above list will be considered.

This research project takes inspiration from the pioneering Sarai Independent Fellowship programme that initiated and supported a host of individual researchers working on contemporary culture.


Like the previous programme, we propose to mobilise collaborative models of research: we expect selected researchers to interact both with Sarai’s in-house research group and a larger community, and deposit their materials in the Sarai archive for public access and use.

Application Details

Applicants need to send:

Please email the documents mentioned above as separate PDF files to with “Application for Short Term Research Project” as the subject header.

Last date for applications: February 15, 2016


The Sarai Programme, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies is organising The Act of Media workshop on 8th to 10th January 2016.

The workshop examines how media-enabled subjectivities produce new sites of departure in the law. The shift from theatre to cinema; cinema to video; and video to satellite television have been productive sites for law’s engagement with technology.  The understanding of traditional notions of sovereignty, jurisdiction, and a public sphere defined by rational discourse have been challenged by the contemporary post Web 2.0 moment and the sheer speed, reach and inter-media circulation that this moment has enabled, breaking the bubble sphere of the old Internet.

The workshop brings together law and media practitioners, legal and media theorists, scholars from the law and social sciences, media and visual studies and media anthropology. The workshop is a space to throw open and explore new ideas and work in these fields, and engage with ongoing research in this area, while keeping in mind the nuances of legal and media practice.

Limited seats are available to attend the workshop. To register, please fill up this form.

The schedule for the workshop is listed below. We encourage you to use #ActOfMedia to Tweet about the workshop.

act of media poster

Day 01 | Friday, 08 January, 2016

9:30 am to 10:00 am: Tea and Introductory Remarks

ACT I SCENE I: Forensics, Evidence, and the Legal Trial
Chair: Ravi Sundaram

Part 1: Time 10:00 am to 11:30 am

Mayur Suresh: “The Multiverse of a Terrorism Trial”

Jinee Lokaneeta: “Narco Videos, Forensic Psychologists and the Truth Telling Apparatus: Tracing Evidence, Law and Media Trials”

Tea: 11:30 am to 11:45 am

Part 2: Time 11:45 am to 1:15 pm

Megha Sahadev: “An Archival of Betrayal: The Use of Personal Documentary Evidence of Domestic Violence in the Courtroom and Beyond”

Pallavi Paul: “Objects as Exhibits: Performance of the Forensic”

Lunch: 1:15 pm to 2:15 pm

ACT I SCENE II: Free Speech, Privacy, and Consent
Chair: Nivedita Menon

Part I: Time: 2:15 pm to 3:45 pm

Francis Cody: “Defamation Law and the Political Body in Tamil News”

Arudra Burra: “Civil Liberties and Political Ideology: The Early Constitutional History of Freedom of Speech”

Tea: 3:45 pm to 4:00 pm

Part II: Time: 4 pm to 5:30 pm

Ranjit Singh: “Making up Aadhaar: Stories at the Intersection of Law, STS and Public Values”

Bishakha Datta: “The Faultlines of Consent”

Day 02 | Saturday, 09 January, 2016 

ACT II SCENE I: Law, Media, Medium
Chair: Lawrence Liang

Time: 9:30 am to 11:30 am

Avishek Ray: “Testimonial Evidentialism and the Media: The Famine Paintings of 1943”

Ishita Tiwary: “Video and the Moment of Legal Disruption”

Smarika Kumar: “The Legal Understanding and Assertion of Authority of Law over New Technologies”

Tea: 11:30 am to 11:45 am

ACT II SCENE II: Cinema and Censorship
Chair: Ravi Vasudevan

Time: 11:45 am to 1:45 pm

Kartik Nair: “Paperwork/Film: Censorship and the Hindi Horror Film After the Emergency”

Silpa Mukherjee: “Censored, Curated and Licensed: Item Numbers after Film”

Ravinder Singh: “Censoring the Afterlives of National Heroes”

Lunch: 1:45 pm to 2:45 pm

ACT II SCENE III: Legal Procedure, Online Culpability, and Electronic Evidence
Chair: Jawahar Raja

Time: 2:45 pm to 4:45 pm

Abhinav Shrivastava: “Decoding the Relation between Evidence Law and Media Technologies in South Asia”

N. S. Nappinai: “Culpability for Online Content”

Apar Gupta: “Striking Down or Reading Down: Examining Litigation Strategies in the Challenge to Criminal Defamation Law”


Day 03 | Sunday, 10 January, 2016

ACT III SCENE I: Law, Language, and Media Cultures
Chair: Francis Cody

Time 10:00 am to 12:00 pm

Shaunak Sen: “The Sting Effect”

Arpita Ghosh: “’Dirty Words’: Law, Media and Language in the AIB Roast”

Siddharth Narrain: “ ‘Objectionable Material’ and the Changing Contours of Hate Speech Law”

Tea: 12:00 pm to 12:15 pm

ACT III SCENE II: Round Table Discussion

Time: 12:15 pm to 1:45 pm

Lunch 1:45 pm


The July 2015 issue of BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies, a special issue of Regional Cinemas of India is now available both in print and online. This special issue has been guest edited by S.V. Srinivas

Guest Editors
S.V. Srinivas


Introduction to Special Issue
Region in Focus
S.V. Srinivas


Coming Back to Life: Jyotiprasad’s Joymoti and Nationalist Politics in Assam, 1890s–1940s
Gaurav Rajkhowa

Thiruvithamkoor, Malabar, Kerala: Speculations on the Regions in “Regional Cinema”
Ratheesh Radhakrishnan

Constituting a Diffuse Region: Cartographies of Mass-mediated Bhojpuri Belonging
Kathryn C. Hardy

A Tamil-speaking Heroine
Constantine V. Nakassis

Maoism to Mass Culture: Notes on Telangana’s Cultural Turn
S.V. Srinivas

The Sarai Programme, CSDS will be hosting DataMeet’s OpenDataCamp Delhi, a one day un-conference, on Sunday, November 22, 2015.

DataMeet organised the first OpenDataCamp in Delhi last year to create a discussion and sharing space for people involved in opening up and working with government and non-government data. This year’s Camp will focus on advancing these conversations, especially towards discussing and articulating how the open data agenda should be integrated into the Digital India initiative, the flagship programme of the Government of India to harness the possibilities of information technologies for accountable governance, effective citizenship, and a productive and job-creating digital economy. Recent international processes towards better global availability of interoperable and comparable data, such as the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development initiative of UN and the International Open Data Charter introduced by the Open Data Working Group of Open Government Partnership, will provide the wider context for our discussions.

ODC logo

The first half (before lunch) of the OpenDataCamp will feature keynote address and panel discussions exploring what roles should open (government) data play in the Digital India initiative, and vice versa. We must note here that the open data agenda has already been integrated into the Digital India programme by rechristening the Open Government Data Platform of India as ‘a digital India initiative’.

The second half (after lunch) of the Camp will begin with a Show and Tell session for participants to briefly share their thoughts and ongoing/finished engagements with open data. This will be followed by a collaborative writing sprint to develop a community statement on an open data agenda for the Digital India initiative.

We invite you to participate in and support the OpenDataCamp Delhi. The event schedule is provided below. For registrations, speakers’ details and FAQs, please visit –

On behalf of DataMeet, we would like to thank our co-organisers: Akvo, NASSCOM – Global Entrepreneurship Week, Random Hacks of Kindness – India, International Center for Journalists, and the unpaid labour of various volunteers and well-wishers.


08:30-09:30 Registration

09:30-10:30 Keynote AddressOpen Data in Digital India (Speaker: Honourable P.D. Rai)

10:30-11:00 Introductions

11:00-11:30 Tea and Coffee

11:30-12:30 Panel DiscussionOpen Data and Digital Governance (Discussants: Anoop Aravind, Konatham Dileep, and Nikhil Pahwa)

12:30-13:30 Panel DiscussionOpen Data and Digital Citizenship (Discussants: Bhanupriya Rao, Dr. Biplav Srivastava, Nic Dawes, and Shashank Srinivasan)

13:30-14:30 Lunch

14:30-15:30 Show and Tell (Open House)

15:30-17:00 Drafting a Statement on Open Data for Digital India

16:30-17:00 Tea and Coffee

17:00:17:15 Closing Remarks

17:15-18:00 Planning Session for DataMeet Delhi (Open and Optional)

For Rajni Kothari, one of the most influential political analysts of postcolonial India, the idea of democracy remained central to his intellectual concerns and to his political engagements as an intellectual-activist. He did not offer any fixed meaning of democracy and instead attempted to capture those context-specific ideas and practices, which are often described as democracy. In his The State against Democracy he expresses several of his ideas and concerns on democracy. Things have changed drastically since the publication of the book. Increasingly, ‘democracy’ gets defined almost on daily basis by various actors and at multiple levels. The advent of new technologies, phenomenal expansion of mass media and civil society organizations, unprecedented proliferation of non party political formations, rapid politicization of society, uses of innovative modes of political and cultural campaigns and mobilization of citizenry have not only transformed the political landscape but also have changed the coordinates and ecology of democracy. This analytical openness provokes us to unpack our meanings and understandings of democracy because for him as well for us: the question is democracy.

There are seven rubrics around which we hope to explore the question of democracy in India today.

The seminar is planned for mid March 2016. We plan to have seven sessions around the above rubrics. Each session will have 2-3 papers of about 5000-7000 words which will if found suitable result in an edited volume. We invite prospective paper givers to send us a 500-600 word abstract of the presentation by 30th November 2015, indicating rubric under which it could be considered so that we can send list of those accepted by 14th December 2015. CSDS will meet travel (2nd AC train fare) and stay expenses. The seminar will be at CSDS Delhi.

The convener of the Seminar is Peter Ronald deSouza. Abstracts should be sent to

A detailed note setting out the themes and questions is available at our website:

‘Hinglish: Social and Cultural Dimensions of Hindi-English Bilingualism in Contemporary India’

Following upon a successful workshop at Sarai-CSDS in August 2014, the Hinglish Workshop 2015 was organised at SOAS, University of London on 27-28 May, 2015. The workshop sought to continue our exploration of the new porousness of Hindi and English in everyday and cultural practices and the relationship between language choice/use and social, cultural and political imaginaries.

Hinglish workshop poster

The workshop programme and abstracts are available at the SOAS website.

Here are the recordings of the presentations from the workshop. All files are hosted at the Internet Archive.

Panel 01: Linguistics & Multilingualism

Devyani SharmaForm and Function in Mixed Codes

Download: MP3

Friederike Lüpke Layers of multilingualism and ideas of language: A view from West Africa

Download: MP3

Panel 02: Films & Serials

Rachel Dwyer & Helen Ashton‘Don’t deboard the Bollytrain’: Trains, Hinglish and Accented English in Bollywood films

Download: MP3

Akshaya KumarCode-mixing in Bhojpuri Media

Download: MP3

Panel 03: Technology & Language Mixing

Shriram VenkataramanTanglish: The language of the Tamil Trolls on Social Media

Download: MP3

Nishant ShahThrice Invisible: Politics of dismissal through vocabulary on the queer Indian web

Download: MP3

Panel 04: Political speech on- and off-stage

Speaker: Francesca Orsini Hindi political rhetoric: any mixing?
Discussant: Anastasia Piliavksy

Download: MP3

Panel 05: Advertisements

Santosh DesaiOne Whisky and One Masala Dosa: The Many Meanings of Hinglish in Advertising

Download: MP3

Vineet KumarHinglish ‘Back to Back’: Without the Ad-break

Download: MP3

Paromita VohraFalling in and out of Love with Hinglish: Advertising and the Domestication of Hinglish

Download: MP3

Final Roundtable Discussion

Download: MP3


The Act of Media: Workshop on Law, Media And Technology in South Asia, 8th to 10th January 2016, The Sarai Programme, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi.

Call for Abstracts

The traditional understanding of ‘media law’ has gradually given way to approaches that show us that ‘law’ and ‘media’ are not separate domains but constantly overlap, define and redefine each other. The law seeks to define and regulate media practice, inciting a discursive space which brings media, its relationship to social order and subversion, its materiality and evidentiary status, into the very folds of the law. And the law is relayed, debated and disputed through media publicity and tested by media acts that regularly challenge legal regulation.

Following in this trajectory, this workshop will explore the historical relationship between law and media, as it is constituted in culture, politics and performance and on the shifting ground of sovereignty in South Asia.

The period leading up to the Partition, the framing of the Indian Constitution and the establishment of two sovereign nation states in the subcontinent, was an important reference point for the debates that occurred round the law, and its relationship to the circulation of information, media and free expression. In India, the debates in the Constituent Assembly and during the First Amendment to the Constitution are testament to how concerns around the political viability of the nation and public order rode roughshod over concerns of civil liberties and freedom of speech and expression.

Arguably, we have transited to a new political setting, in which the earlier concentration of power in the sovereign state and its legal institutions have become substantially complicated by the transformation of the media sphere. This workshop will aim to explore the role of the law and censorship through, as William Mazzarella puts it, a theory of performative dispensations, when political authority can no longer reside in the physical body of a singular sovereign and finds itself in the anonymous space of mass publicity.

It is with this background in mind that The Act of Media workshop will explore the histories of technological development in the subcontinent and the manner in which both the promise of, and anxieties around technology have framed legal discourse and regulation.

The workshop will examine how media-enabled subjectivities produce new sites of departure in the law. The shift from theatre to cinema; cinema to video; and video to satellite television have been productive sites for law’s engagement with technology. The understanding of traditional notions of sovereignty, jurisdiction, and a public sphere defined by rational discourse have been challenged by the contemporary post Web 2.0 moment and the sheer speed, reach and inter-media circulation that this moment has enabled, breaking the bubble sphere of the old Internet. The increasing use of cell phone enabled technologies, and the evolution of cultural practices around the cell phone, pose a massive challenge to older forms of control, policing and the terms of political engagement. The workshop will explore debates, both in South Asia and globally, around trolling, hate speech, violence, the ‘dark net’ and ‘unsocial media’, and the emergence of new infrastructures of governance and surveillance.

The Act of Media workshop will bring together law and media practitioners, legal and media theorists, scholars from the law and social sciences, media and visual studies and media anthropology. The workshop will be a space to throw open and explore new ideas and work in these fields, and engage with ongoing research in this area, while keeping in mind the nuances of legal and media practice.

Workshop themes will include:

I Evidence, Truth and Legal Procedure

Changing media technologies demand the ability of law to deal with the evidentiary aspects of these technologies. The government’s truth labs that have been set up have institutionalized practices related to criminal law, criminology and forensics. Drawing upon the work of scholars such as Cornelia Vismann, what are the longer histories of media technologies that help explain the relationship between the file, truth and law? For instance, the ability to fake and doctor images and recordings throws into question how evidence law can verify the authenticity of these claims.

II Histories of Media, Law and Technology

The proliferation of blogs, online forums like Facebook and Twitter, and peer-to-peer networks such as Whatsapp have led to the government arguing for stricter legal standards to regulate these media. In the 2015 Shreya Singhal judgment, the Indian Supreme Court held that legal regulation of the Internet could not be equated to the regulation of other media. At the same time the Court held that the safeguards under the Constitution could not be diluted for the Internet. How does one read this development in relation to older debates and legal doctrine around changing media technology?

III Law and the Media Event

With the legal trial becoming a media event, there has been an increasing focus on the power of the media and its ability to influence the legal process. The ethical and legal issues surrounding the interviews of undertrials, the release of a film or book while a trial is going on, and the hyper-mediatised coverage of incidents like the Arushi murder, have led to legal precedent, and debates on the ethical aspects of these trials. What happens to the notion of publicity in the trial? How has the law attempted to balance the right to fair trial and the freedom of speech and the right to receive information?

IV Censors and their Sensibilities

How do we understand the production of knowledge and theory of aesthetics even as we examine debates around the censorship of media through the law? What are the ways that the language of the law, couched in reason, struggles with the affective space of sentiments – hurt, contempt, and disgust? Does the medium determine the capacity of language to incite, inflame, outrage and stir passions? What are the tensions between the evolving juridical categories such as hate speech, the social media’s circulation of incendiary material, and political contestations around these categories and practices?

V Consent, Technology and Gendered Violence

The Internet has emerged as a highly masculine space, and there are emerging debates in the Indian context around the barriers that women and persons of diverse genders face in occupying the online public sphere. Videos of rape that are circulated, revenge pornography, and videos and images of public figures that circulate without their consent, have given us cause to think of the complex interplay between the criminal law, consent, and the gendered use of technology. Is the state and police apparatus complicit in the production of a pornographic public? How has the emergence of social media and new media technologies changed the terms of the debates around representation, and the distinction between the speech act and its impact?

VI Circulation, Virality, Rumour

How does the law deal with events that are staged for the afterlife of You Tube videos, when the audience is not just those watching the events but the millions of people who view and share these videos? In what way is new and ubiquitous media technology like Whatsapp images on mobile phones implicated in the production of heightened affect? What are the infrastructures of surveillance and regulation that are put in place to respond to the circulation of ‘objectionable’ material on social media? How has the phenomenon of rumour and its potential to mobilize crowds adapted to the post We­b 2.0 moment? How have corporate media agencies such as Google and Facebook responded to the circulation of rumour and hate speech and how transparent are they in their actions?

The Sarai Programme invites submission of abstracts for ‘The Act of Media’ workshop. Abstracts should not exceed 300 words, and should be sent to by 15th October, 2015, with the subject heading ‘Proposal for The Act of Media Workshop.’ Authors of the selected abstracts will be notified by 1st November 2015.

The workshop will be held from 8th to 10th January 2016, at Sarai-CSDS, 29 Rajpur Road, Delhi. The Sarai Programme will cover three days of accommodation for outstation participants. In addition, participants from India will be eligible for travel support.


The arrival of video ushered in a new logistics of access, circulation and production of audio-visual forms. Analog video introduced new infrastructures and legal contests for film circulation and viewing cultures, set new terms for amateur and professional practices in home videos, documentary and commercial works, pedagogical practices and civil society activism, and has been a key dimension of the history of surveillance. This workshop sought to track this history and also to consider the shifts engendered with the arrival of digital video. Thematically, the workshop engaged with the infrastructures that led to the arrival and dissemination of analog video, the shifting legal debates around analog video and video surveillance, cellphone cultures and online videos.

The first session opened with presentations around video in the 80’s and its proliferation in the 90’s. Ishita Tiwary’s presentation spoke of the longer history of video with a focus on the form of the ‘marriage video’. With technology as the entry point, she opened multiple fields of enquiry around the object such as marriage photography as precursor, gender politics, the influence of cinema, questions of aesthetics and performance. Her paper also explored parallels between ‘marriage video’ and the ‘home video’. The questions of exhibition, consumption and experience were key to Sebastian Thejus Cherian’s paper on the use of VHS in Kerala. These categories were investigated within the larger framework of its transnational consumption. Cherian explored practices such as home video viewing, proliferation of video libraries, and growth of the grey market. Shweta Kishore’s presentation on independent video documentary explored the relationship between participatory and community video and the empirical and psychological dimensions of ‘realism’. She further elaborated on the particular form of participatory video where geography, technology, methodology and the question of developmental agenda emerged as important to this video practice. The papers showed that the emergence of video practices in the 80’s had multiple forms. The discussion that followed drew out a number of parallels amongst the papers, with a particular focus on the different ways they described the question of video infrastructure.

Session two of the workshop explored three areas in the legal regulation of video. The first paper by Siddharth Narrain relied on the legal archive, primarily judgments of the High Court and the Supreme Court that dealt with contestations around the exhibition of analog video. The paper interrogated the definition of the term ‘public exhibition’, and also looked at the definition of the term video and the court’s attempt to distinguish celluloid film from video technology. Through a detailed exposition of the legal definitions, the paper examined how the courts focused on the materiality of the medium, and the ways in which they began to draw upon copyright law to regulate the use of the new technology for public exhibition. The second presentation by Lawrence Liang examined media and visual evidence, specifically examining issues around the authenticity of video used as evidence in courts of law. Looking at key cases like the car chase in the O.J. Simpson trial, and the recording of the accused in a narcoanalysis test in the Telgi stamp paper case, the paper posed the question of how the law relies on certain forms of visual evidence, while at the same time how advances in technology have made it easier to doctor images and fake visual evidence. The third presentation by Ravi Chaturvedi and Shruti Nagpal examined the increased use of video surveillance in schools in Delhi. By breaking down responses from surveys conducted in 50 schools, the authors threw light on the multiple reasons behind surveillance, and the larger tension between security and human rights. The authors contrasted the ubiquitous use of CCTV surveillance in schools with the lack of privacy laws in India, and a lack of clarity on what happens to the data that is collected, how such data can be accessed and who can access it. One of the areas that the authors focused on was the response of employees and managements of schools to the use of surveillance, revealing a substantial opinion of management on the need for surveillance in schools. The discussion around this session centered on the intersection of the Internet and video, and how the law dealt with videos on You Tube, the distinction between censorship and certification of video, the legal definition of video cinema, the controversy around the AIB Roast video, and the ways in which there was a blurring of carriage and content in the law, the idea of ‘publicness’ and its re-alignment in the law, and the longer history of the definition of public exhibition in public amusement law.

The third session dealt with two completely different cultures of cell phone videos, locating their aesthetic and cultural implications. Rashmi M presented her ethnographic work-in-progress exploring the sociality of video consumption amongst migrant security guards in urban cities like Bangalore. Her paper explored the offline circuits of mobile and peripheral technologies that operate beyond the reach of social networking giants in cities, specifically in the mobile accessories shop which could upload audio and video for cellphone users without access to the internet. She tracked the afterlife of videos after download through male dominated networks of sharing amongst security guards. Investigating the networks of sharing and belonging which accessed and circulated this low-cost digital material, Rashmi argued that these could not be understood in the standard accounts of commodities and markets.

Yaminay’s paper unpacked the low resolution image, moving away from its indexical power into the realm of desire and haptic materiality. Viewing ‘low-res’ not as a medium but as a palimpsest, Yaminay poetically emphasized the possibility of participation inherent in such images as it invites the viewer to supply registers of memory and recognition in the evocation of practice and place. Exploring questions of desire as relayed through latter-day Islamic miniature paintings, critically engaging the possibilities of fetishization in the work of documentary art video, and theorizing low res images as Foucauldian heterotopic spaces, Yaminay presented her own work as palimpestic and fragmentary exploration of experience.

The discussion that followed M. Rashmi’s paper focused on the politics of access and knowledge, how her research complicated the idea of consumption and demonstrated the subaltern navigation of limited connectivity, and concluded with an emphasis on how digital economies and practices need to be mapped in terms of class differences and networks of sociality. The discussion on Low Res revolved around questions of locating the poor image, both in its bleakness and relation to longing, and the politics that had developed around pixellization, reframing it quite differently from the American avant garde.

In the last session, the three presenters opened up several themes related to emerging ontologies of digital video. Charu Maithani’s paper on Glitch & Error and its role in aesthetics framed the ever-present and yet unpredictable glitches in the everyday of software as affect. Using visual art material, she sought to draw links between glitch aesthetics and the longer histories of new media. Becca Savory’s paper constructed a cultural sociology of Flash Mob performers and the online mediation of performance. She explained how YouTube as a practice has shifted the contexts, meanings and emphasis of performance both for the performers and the audiences. The last paper by Shaunak Sen dealt with the temporal and gestural economy of a GIF, and the challenges posed to earlier media forms and their historicity, as media such as the cinema are redeployed as content in often contingent ways and in a new constellation of media use. On the other hand, drawing on the Alok Nath meme story, involving the lampooning of an iconic figure of cinematic and televisual probity, he outlined the way the meme and viral circulation suggested a process not of displacement of old media forms and contents, but their refiguring in a knowing re-deployment of media memory. The discussion in this session explored longer histories of media and media storage and retrieval, including histories of informational error, models of performance and how these have been reframed by online/offline linkages and coordination, and the emerging media worlds of the digital as these frame and reframe media archaeology.

The Sarai Programme is committed to developing a public architecture for creating knowledge and creative communities. In keeping with this commitment, we seek to develop a community of scholars, writers and practitioners who are motivated to make the materials and outcome of research available for public access and circulation, with the understanding that an imaginative engagement with social experience will be best fostered by a sharing of information, ideas, research materials and resources. We see our system of Short Term Research Projects as a resource that will be built on by many people working whether individually or in groups, but with a sense of collective endeavour and public purpose.

The Call for Proposals for the Short Term Research Projects in Social and Digital Media attracted over 75 applications from all over the country, and it took a careful scrutiny of all the applications to reach our decision. We received applications from scholars as well as practitioners, young researchers and older, and proposals looked at a wide range of themes. The applications testify to an emerging research interest in developments in the last decade, as researchers and practitioners strive to reflect on the contemporary histories and techno-material practices opened by social media in India. Due to limited resources, we were unable to support many interesting proposals. We encourage those interested in the field to keep track of lectures and workshops and other work Sarai is planning to develop in the area of social media.

Please see below excerpts from selected proposals for this year’s Short Term Research Projects in Social Media.

Circulation, Consumption and Construction of the Nineties Romantic Imagination: Afterlife of the Nineties Romantic Film Song in the Virtual Public Sphere

Abhija Ghosh

In this project, I am interested in observing the popularity of nineties romantic cinema and music across several internet media streams such as video sharing platforms, online radio music channels, nineties fan sites and lists in order to map the registers of popular memory, affect and pleasure that mark an emerging cultural afterlife of this decade of Hindi cinema.

Imago Aevitas: Engagement with Net Art Projects

Charu Maithani

Imago Aevitas is a research project aimed at understanding the changing implications of web- based artistic projects. The research will analyse (inter)net art projects to draw together the changing image aesthetics in digital technology as well the participatory nature of these projects. The intention of the research is to be able to analyse the contemporary net art projects in order to bring into focus the conditions of living in the post-digital age.

Khabar Lahariya: Rural Empowerment Goes Digital

Mrinalika Roy

In May 2002, a New Delhi-based NGO ‘Nirantar’ began India’s first-of-its’s-kind, rural newspaper ‘Khabar Lahariya’ from Bundelkhand district of Uttar Pradesh. Their self- proclaimed aim is to bring rural women into the sphere of journalism, information and technology. In this project, I intend to look into the transformative impact the internet has had on the rural landscape. As my case study I would look into the working of ‘Khabar Lahariya’ and how internet helped to further its cause. This includes exploring the use of media in the region and the news gathering process of the newspaper prior to the introduction of internet. I also aim to document the personal stories of its reporters, most of who come from underprivileged backgrounds, changes in their lives and the way they report. Since the stories by the newspaper have created an impact and helped raise and solve issues concerning villagers, the perception of the villagers towards the newspaper is worth exploring and so is the attitude and views of the administration. It is also interesting to note what men of the region think about an all-women newspaper. Lastly, I will explore the possibilities of similar initiatives in other rural areas of India.

Forensics and Truth Labs

Pallavi Paul

Other than being a platform of internet mediated community experiences, social media today has become the site of fierce battles over consumer data, intellectual property rights and private records. Even as the terms of these debates are still forming, websites like Twitter, Myspace, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Youtube and Web 2.0 have become repositories of evidence in criminal proceedings involving individual users, corporations and governments. Further, there is a worldwide proliferation of litigation where these social networking sites are themselves infringing the privacy of their own users. This project will unpack the questions of crime and evidence via cyber forensics. It will look at two major sites-A government helmed agency, The Central Forensic Science Laboratory and a conglomerate of private forensic labs, ‘The Truth Labs’- with the aim of tracing the methodologies through which digital data and information from internet based media is surveyed and presented as evidence.

Lovely* Interfaces: The Many Lives of the Item Number in Social and Digital Media

Silpa Mukherjee

I propose to trace the life of the item number through social and digital media and the affective landscape transmitted through multiple interfaces (Galloways, 2012). Item numbers travel through an intricate media network of ringtones, digital star posters as wallpapers on personal gadgets, live shows telecast on television and recorded and sold on DVDs or buffered on YouTube, iTunes, apps and the online portals as the item number effect. In the process, digital and social media’s interaction with the item creates a haptic sensorium for the spectator/user producing a feedback loop between the production economy of the film industry and the fan community

Law’s Role in Development of the Internet

Smarika Kumar

I propose to study the relationship between law and the development of internet as a technology. Early pioneers like John Perry Barlow saw the internet as the beginning of a new world, away from the power of States and something whose very architecture resists the application of legal and regulatory frameworks to the medium. Since those heady days, the understanding that internet like any other media, can be shaped and governed by law has made an incursion into popular minds thanks to the work of scholars like Lawrence Lessig, Jonathan Zittrain and many others. Today as jurisdictions around the world deliberate governance frameworks for this new media, it is well understood that there is nothing “inherently ungovernable” about the internet, as was thought earlier. My proposal hopes to add to this understanding by analysing the mechanisms through which law understands the internet.


The July 2014 issue of BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies is now available both in print and online. The special issue is available for free online. The access will be free for the whole month of April

Guest Editors
Ali Nobil Ahmad and Ali Khan


Introduction to Special Issue

Film and Cinephilia in Pakistan: Beyond Life and Death
Ali Nobil Ahmad


Cross-Wing Filmmaking: East Pakistani Urdu Films and Their Traces in the Bangladeshi Film Archive
Lotte Hoek

Umar Marvi and the Representation of Sindh: Cinema and Modernity in the Margins
Julien Levesque and Camille Bui

“Kharak Kita Oi!”: Masculinity, Caste and Gender in Punjabi Films
Iqbal Sevea

Working Class Zombies and Men in Burqas: Temporality, Trauma, and the Specter of Nostalgia in Zibahkhana
Gwendolyn S.Kirk


Independent Filmmaking in Pakistan: An Interview with Sabiha Sumar
Ali Nobil Ahmad and Sophia Anjum


Pakistani Film
Saadat Hasan Manto transl. by Ali Nobil Ahmad

Color in Film: Why and to What End?
Muhammad Hasan Askari Ali Nobil Ahmad

Building Pakistan and Filmmaking
Muhammad Hasan Askari transl. by Ali Nobil Ahmad

Pakistani Film Poster Art
Ali Khan

The arrival of video ushered in a new logistics of access, circulation and production of audio-visual forms. Analog video introduced new infrastructures and legal contests for film circulation and viewing cultures, set new terms for amateur and professional practices in home videos, documentary and commercial works, pedagogical practices and civil society activism, and has been a key dimension of the history of surveillance. This workshop seeks to track this history and also to consider the shifts engendered with the arrival of digital video. Video is now experienced and consumed on television screens, mobile phones, laptops, tablets, substantially shifting the nature of viewing cultures and media practice. Video circulation has had extraordinary currency through MMS circulation, `sting’ and citizen journalism, and YouTube uploads, engendering new senses of velocity and impact in the social and political effects of video forms, and new questions about the boundary between the public and the private, about morality and obscenity. Research into video is as yet incipient in the Indian context, and we hope to encourage multiple lines of analysis to engage this complex and urgent field of media research.

Workshop themes include –

Media Archaeologies

Legal Histories of Video regulation and contest

Film industry and video technology

Analog and digital video

Video in documentary and activist filmmaking

Production, distribution and circulation of video technology

Obscenity and Morality debates around video

Video circulation, social and political mobilization

Video surveillance

Video and Aesthetics

Social Media and Video

Abstracts should not exceed 300 words, and should be sent to by January 15, 2015, with the subject heading of ‘Proposal for Video Workshop.’

Authors of the selected abstracts will be notified by January 20th, 2015.

The Video Workshop will be held on February 21, 2015, at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi.

A capacity-building workshop (March 09-25, 2015) organised for research scholars by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi, and supported by the Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR).


This is an intensive two-week workshop for research scholars, aimed at the honing of research skills and creation of theoretical and methodological awareness. The workshop is oriented towards elaborating the general problematic of ‘margins and marginalities.’ The margins, for our purposes, constitute the vantage point from which to view and analyze a diverse set of historical and contemporary issues. Tentatively, we are planning to discuss the themes of knowledge, language, economy, democracy, religion, body, city, media and art.

The workshop will combine lectures by individual faculty from CSDS and/or invitees from other academic institutions in Delhi and intensive reading sessions of certain chosen texts.

Registered research students at the beginning to intermediate stages of their doctoral project and advanced MPhil students may apply. At the end of the workshop, participants will have the opportunity to review their research proposals in the light of what they have learned.


Preference will be given to candidates from SC, ST and other marginalized groups. The full intake will comprise of thirty (30) participants, including a maximum of twenty (20) outstation candidates. Selected outstation candidates will be provided IIIrd AC return train fare and per diem to meet the expenses of stay in Delhi. Course materials will be made available to all selected candidates.

Those interested may apply to Jayasree Jayanthan ( with current CV, names of two referees and a research synopsis (max 2000 words) highlighting the main research question and methodological preference.

The last date for receiving applications is January 15, 2015.


The Hinglish workshop was organised by The Sarai Programme, CSDS, and SOAS, University of London. The workshop sought to explore and understand the new porousness of Hindi and English in everyday and cultural practices and the relationship between language use and social and cultural imaginaries, along lines of inclusion, stratification, and exclusion.

Here are recordings of the presentations from the workshop. All files are hosted at Internet Archive.

Language, Education

Ayesha KidwaiThe linguistics and politics of mixed codes: Understanding site and manner

Download: OGG and MP3.

ApoorvanandLanguage strategies in political speech

Download: OGG and MP3.


Rohit PrakashRemix ke daur men Hindi: Hinglish aur Navbharat Times

Download: OGG and MP3.

Arshad AmanullahThe language of Urdu news – any mixing?

Download: OGG and MP3.


Rachel Dwyer and Helen Ashton‘I do fatafat constipation with goras in tip-top gora English’: Hinglish and English accents and speech in Jab Tak Hai Jaan (Dir. Yash Chopra, 2012)

Download: OGG and MP3.

Ratnakar TripathyMixing in Bhojpuri cinema and music

Download: OGG and MP3.

Film Songs

RavikantPhir bhi Dil hai ‘Hinglishtani’? Historicising the contemporary

Download: OGG and MP3.

Paromita VohraHinglish in film songs

Download: OGG and MP3.

Radio and TV

Vineet Kumarएफ़एम रेडियो: आदत और सहजता के बीच हिंग्लिश

Download: OGG and MP3.

Suman ParmarChannel V serials: the changing language of a youth-oriented TV channel

Download: OGG and MP3.


Aakriti MandhwaniHinglish and Contemporary Hindi Popular Publishing

Download: OGG and MP3.

Francesca Orsini‘Not too nanga-panga? Work, love, and aspiration in Anuja Chauhan’s The Zoya Factor

Download: OGG and MP3.

Work and Politics

Snehalata GuptaHinglish – A Bridge or a Destination?- Exploring Hindi English bilingualism in the classroom

Download: OGG and MP3.

Sanjay SrivastavaSudden Selves: ‘MTI (‘Mother Tongue Influence’) and Personality Development: The Making of New Labour in North India

Download: OGG and MP3.

Final discussion

Rita Kothari, Alok Rai, and Abhay Dube

Download: OGG and MP3.


About the book

Acts of Media seeks to consolidate a field of multidisciplinary work around media technologies that intersects with legal scholarship. This volume brings together contributions from leading academics, lawyers, researchers and policy experts about contemporary India and Sri Lanka. The approaches to law and media taken in this volume challenge us to think outside of traditional disciplinary descriptions. Rather than approaching the law as being outside of, and constantly catching up with the media, the contributors of this book view law and media as being deeply intertwined.

The chapters in this volume address the relationship between law and media through different entry points—disputes over media and information systems shaping law, theories of law that incorporate media forms, and law and media co-producing trials. The multidisciplinary nature of this book has facilitated a rich and productive conversation among legal scholars, researchers and lawyers from disciplines such as constitutional law, law and technology, media and cinema studies, legal anthropology and political science.

Table of contents


Introduction: The Entanglement of Law and Media in Contemporary India Siddharth Narrain

PART I: Law and Media Infrastructures

What Is Video? Video and the Moment of Legal Disruption Ishita Tiwary

Censored, Curated and Licensed: Item Numbers after Film Silpa Mukherjee

Sexual Expression, Law and Media in Contemporary India Bishakha Datta

The Constitutional Basis for Internet Freedom Apar Gupta

Revisiting the 2012 North East Exodus: Virality, Incitement to Violence and the Law in India Siddharth Narrain

On WhatsApp, Rumours and Lynchings Chinmayi Arun

Hate Speech and Social Media in Sri Lanka Sanjana Hattotuwa and Roshini Wickremesinhe

PART II: Evidence, Forensics and Trials

True Lies and False Truths: The Case of Talwar Veena Hariharan

Narco Videos, Forensic Psychologists and the Truth Telling Apparatus: Tracing Evidence, Law and Media Trials Jinee Lokaneeta

The Talwars and Presumed Guilt Shohini Ghosh

Objects as Exhibits: Performances of the Forensic Pallavi Paul

Censorship Through Forensics: Video Evidence in Post-war Crises Rebecca Wexler

About the Editor and Contributors


Siddharth Narrain is currently a Scientia PhD Candidate, Faculty of Law and Justice, University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney, Australia. He has previously worked as an Assistant Lecturer (Visiting) at the School of Law, Governance and Citizenship (SLGC), Ambedkar University Delhi (2018-19); as a Research Associate with the Sarai Programme, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi (2015-17); as a lawyer and legal researcher with the Alternative Law Forum (ALF), Bangalore (2006-13); as a Principal Correspondent with The Hindu newspaper’s Delhi Bureau (2005-6), and as a Reporter with Frontline Magazine (2003-4). He has a bachelor’s degree in law (BA LLB Hons) from the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore, a post-graduate diploma in print journalism from the Asian College of Journalism (ACJ), Chennai, and a master’s degree in law (LLM) from Harvard Law School. He is a recipient of the Fulbright-Nehru Master’s Scholarship in 2012. Siddharth has co-edited (with Mayur Suresh) The Shifting Scales of Justice: The Supreme Court in Neo-liberal India (Orient Blackswan, 2014).

The Acts of Media workshop was conducted at Sarai-CSDS between 8-10 January, 2016, bringing together academics, researchers, and legal practitioners, to discuss themes that were broadly related to law, media and technology. Details of the event are available on the website here.

The book is available for download here.

Afterlives of Modernism

In this episode Ravi Sundaram and Ashish Rajadhyaksha speak to the art critic and curator Geeta Kapur. The long twentieth century produced powerful movements that shaped politics, aesthetics and the idea of the contemporary. In the late 1990s, we have seen a renewal of postcolonial critiques in the contemporary art spaces, especially from the South. In this wide-ranging conversation with Kapur, we take stock of the idea of the contemporary, along with debates on art and cultural theory in the Global South.

Please visit Apple Podcasts or Spotify, or SoundCloud, to listen to this podcast episode.

Geeta Kapur has several publications, among them her much-discussed When Was Modernism.  She was one of the founder-editors of the well-known Journal of Arts and Ideas. Her curatorial projects include major shows like ‘Bombay/Mumbai’ (co-curated with Ashish Rajadhyaksha) for the exhibition, Century City at the Tate Modern in 2001, ‘subTerrain’ at the House of World Cultures in Berlin in 2003 and most recently the cycle of shows called ‘Aesthetic Bind’ in  Mumbai in 2013-14. She is working on two books, Speech Acts and Critics Compass: Navigating Practice.

Speaking Otherwise is a podcast series on the Contemporary, hosted by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS).  In this podcast, we speak to well-known scholars from the humanities and the social sciences on the critical questions of our times.

Sarai-CSDS, New Delhi, in partnership with Liquid Architecture, Melbourne is thrilled to have received one of six inaugural Maitri Cultural Partnership Grants, from the newly instituted Centre for Australia-India Relations.

Capture All is a multiyear collaboration, initiated in 2021, between Sarai-CSDS and Liquid Architecture, featuring artists, scholars, and writers based in India and Australia contributing to a series of critical intensives and dialogues, public programs and publications.

In 2024, Sarai and Liquid Architecture (LA) will co-host a symposium and exhibition at the Collingwood Yards arts precinct in Melbourne exploring the creative potentials and affective states of new technologies in sound and media. Led by Suvani Suri (Sarai) and Laura McLean (LA), the program will bring together Australian and Indian artists, arts workers, and researchers to address situated ways of listening, and Indigenous and diasporic experiences contextual to the Asia-Pacific, creating grounds from which to visualise and audibilise entangled fraternities, histories, and futures together.

For the past 20 years, Sarai and Liquid Architecture have operated at the forefront of media and sound practice and research.

The Sarai Programme, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), has been South Asia’s most prominent and productive platform for research and reflection on the transformation of urban space and contemporary realities, especially with regard to cities, data and information, law, and media infrastructures.

Liquid Architecture has been Australia’s leading organisation for artists working with sound and listening. LA investigates the sounds themselves, but also the ideas communicated about, and the meaning of, sound and listening.

Thursday 16 – Monday 20 February 2023 (excluding Sunday 19 February)

ACCA is pleased to open our call out for enrolments to Data Relations Summer School. Taking the exhibition Data Relations as a point of departure, Data Relations Summer School comprises a series of experimental workshops, discussions, performances and talks at ACCA and other venues, with an emphasis on pedagogy and the sharing of ideas. Presenters and participants will come together to respond to critical and creative approaches to questions regarding data relations.

Featuring the exhibiting artists, alongside invited guest artists, researchers, and critical technologists. Speakers include:

Plus more to be announced…

Data Relations Summer School also features evening performances and talks at ACCA by exhibiting artists and other guests, which are free and open to all.

Who Can Enrol?

ACCA encourages artists, researchers, students, writers, critics and enthusiasts interested in data relations to apply for the Summer School. The program offers a platform for discussion, collaboration, knowledge sharing and exchange. EOIs are encouraged from both creative and/or technological perspectives.

Data Relations Summer School will have limited capacity and selection will consider the diversity of age, gender, ability, cultural and disciplinary background to expand the ways art and data may intersect in the everyday. The selection process will prioritise access and inclusion, and the program will cater to participants of all abilities.

Required Commitment

Data Relations Summer School runs from Thursday 16 – Monday 20 February (excluding Sunday 19 February). Each day comprises an afternoon session between 12– 4pm incorporating discussions, workshops and talks, complimented by optional evening events hosted at ACCA that will be open to the general public.

Participants will form a cohort and attend all sessions. The Summer School requires a significant time commitment and ongoing participation in discussions and workshops over the four days.

Expressions of Interest

  1. Tell us about yourself and why you are interested in attending the Data Relations Summer School? (200 words)
  2. Are you available to attend all sessions over 16 – 20 February? (200 words)
  3. Do you have any accessibility requirements? (200 words)

Enrolments Close

Monday 30 January 2023, 5pm

Enroll here.

Data Relations Summer School is curated by ACCA in collaboration with RMIT Research Fellow Joel Stern and presented with the support of The Ian Potter Foundation, ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making & Society (ADM+S), RMIT School of Media and Communication, University of Melbourne, Australian Research Council (ARC), Capture All with Liquid Architecture x Sarai, ACMI and UNSW Sydney.


We are happy to share the publication of a special issue of Disclaimer, co-edited by Laura McLean and Mehak Sawhney, with a focus on sonic creative practices from India and Australia. It has been collaboratively published by Liquid Architecture, Melbourne, and Sarai-CSDS, Delhi. The collection of artworks can be found here:

This collection of writing and artistic works was conceptualised as part of a broader project called Capture All: A Sonic Investigation, initiated as a collaboration between Liquid Architecture and Sarai in the midst of the pandemic. Capture All responds, albeit indirectly, to this crisis experienced in asynchronous waves across the world that closed borders, isolated individuals, and radically reconfigured patterns of life and death — conditions which prompted an acceleration of the mediatisation of interpersonal relations, and a consequent, curious collapse in subjective experiences of time and space.

It was under these circumstances that that we first came together from four different time zones with six artists and writers for a series of intensive online workshops, to consider how experimental practices of sound and listening may be mobilised as resources for understanding and intervening in forms of capture, extraction, and governance that haunt and influence life in settler- and post-colonial Australia and India.

In the midst of the radical reconfigurations taking place globally, we wondered if this was a moment to critically analyse the recursive colonial patterns and infrastructures that permeate contemporary life across contexts. Could we use this break in business-as-usual to intervene in and resist perpetual patterns of capture that are increasingly abstracted, automated, and blackboxed beyond reach? Through creative and critical conversations with guest artists and scholars spanning over a year, the workshop intensives focussed on sound as a form of knowledge and expression, as an object that has been archived and datafied, and as a situated sensory experience.

This collection attempts to destabilise any purist notion of sound and sound art, and lay bare the fragmented nature and multi-modality of sonic thinking and making. In that sense, it addresses a foundational question for sonic creative practice — how can artists move away from an object-oriented and unidimensional understanding of sound to create works that reflect the complexity of the spatio-temporal and geopolitical contexts from which they emerge? Scholars of sound studies have delved into the socio-cultural specificities and multiplicity of sonic experiences across questions of race, class, colonialism, gender, and disability. The works collected here, in a parallel and connected artistic endeavour, reveal a variety of formal and aesthetic choices made by the artists to represent sonic situatedness in all its intricacy.

By centering various episodes in Australian and South Asian histories, presents and futures, this issue foregrounds sonic thinking as a fragmented and archaeological process that cannot be tied to a singular and stable sonic object or experience. It presents sound art as a relational medium beyond sound, and as a mode of thinking by blurring the divide between theory and practice. In other words, it demonstrates how sound art can be fragmented and archaeological, non-sonic and multi-modal, analytical and theoretical. All of the aforementioned attributes form the premise of creating situated soundworks that steer away from stable sound objects and universal listening subjects. Each of the artworks is thereby a scaffold, held together through image, text and sound, and woven together to aesthetically perform and reveal the politics of sound and listening in various contexts.

Ravi Sundaram’s new book ‘Technopharmacology’ published by Meson Press (co-authors Aleena Chia, Joshua Neves, Susanna Paasonen).

Technopharmacology is a modest call to expand media theoretical inquiry by attending to the biological, neurological, and pharmacological dimensions of media and centers on emergent affinities between big data and big pharma.

It is available here.

We’re happy to announce the publication of BioScope vol. 13. no. 1.

The new issue of Bioscope has a special section on Media in the Pandemic. Pallavi Paul considers the media form of viral analysis, and different types of information-gathering and speculation that challenge the authority of medical expertise; Anirban Baishya looks at drone use during lockdown and the death-ravaged summer of 2021; Kuhu Tanvir explores the affective forms of the Zoom funeral; and Laleen Jayamanne captures the post-pandemic potentialities of Zoom in networks of political reflection on performative and disappeared bodies. Our main article section is devoted to Media Technologies and Publics. Isabel Huacuja Alonso develops a rich account of Radio Ceylon’s popular film song hit parade, Binaca Geetmala, analysing publicity practices based on measurement of record sales and a focus on listener voting that parallels the emergence of electoral democracy in 1950s India. Sagorika Singha situates the popularity of Reality TV in Northeast India in advances in telecommunications and the importance of listener voting by landline and mobile telephony. Spandan Bhattacharya, analysing the Bedeni (woman snake-charmer) genre of 1980s Bengali cinema, and other “new” popular genres explores the industrial, legal, and technological contexts of their emergence, including the importance of video as technology and aesthetic. Finally, as we move through the 50th year of Bangladesh’s independence, Srideep Mukherjee draws on Tanvir  Mokammel’s Chitra Nadir Pare (1999) to reflect on the tragic force of an ethno-religious nationalism  that originated with the Partition in 1947, and continues to challenge the Bangladeshi nation today. And there are book reviews by Alastair Phillips on Priya Jaikumar’s Where Histories Reside: India as Filmed Space, and Arpana Awwal on Harisur Rahman’s Consuming Cultural Hegemony: Bollywood in Bangladesh.


Ravi S. VasudevanRosie ThomasS. V. SrinivasSalma SiddiqueDebashree MukherjeeKartik NairLotte Hoek

Special Section: Media in the Pandemic

Mediatised Contagion: Some Propositions on Pandemic Media

Pallavi Paul

Chronicle of a Funeral Webcast: Mediating Death in the Time of COVID-19

Kuhu Tanvir

Through a Drone Darkly: Drone Media as Pandemic Witnessing

Anirban K. Baishya

A Critical Film Zone on Zoom

Laleen Jayamanne


Songs by Ballot: Binaca Geetmala and the Making of a Hindi Film-Song Radio Audience, 1952–1994

Isabel Huacuja Alonso

Vote for Visibility: Talent Hunts, Networked Infrastructures, and the Emergence of Northeast India’s First Reality TV Star

Sagorika Singha

Transgressing Boundaries, Transforming Film Culture(s): Tales of Bedeni and the Constructs of Female Performer Figure in the 1990s Bengali Cinema

Spandan Bhattacharya

Mangled Homes, Tangled Homeland: Religion and Gender in Tanvir Mokammel’s Chitra Nadir Pare

Srideep Mukherjee

Book Reviews

Book review: Priya Jaikumar, Where Histories Reside: India as Filmed Space

Alastair Philips

Book review: Harisur Rahman, Consuming Cultural Hegemony: Bollywood in Bangladesh

Arpana Awwal

We’re happy to announce the publication of BioScope vol. 12. no. 1-2.

The Keywords Issue marks 10 years of BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies. We first conceived of this special issue in 2018 when we were nearing our 10th anniversary. At the time, the editorial group sought a celebratory stock-taking – a means of noting the dynamism of the field of screen studies from and about South Asia – and signalling emerging directions for the future. A lot has happened since 2018. Most dramatically, we are living through a global pandemic with devastating and differential impacts across South Asia. Stark inequalities within this region have tragically come to the fore, as have the geopolitics of vaccine patents, aid infrastructures and news reportage that exacerbate and consolidate the difference between the West and the rest. The current moment underscores the necessity to view the field of intellectual production itself with a diachronic and spatially comparative lens, one that is attuned to the past constructions of a place and its media and the ongoing ramifications of these constructions.

At its most polemical, the ambition of this issue is to confront the geopolitics of knowledge production and disciplinary norms. A keywords approach allows us to ask what some of the central epistemes currently at play in film and media studies are. Each keyword in this collection aims to present concise accounts of core themes and debates, thereby illustrating the conceptual underpinnings upon which the field has been built. As such, the issue serves to highlight important areas of media scholarship pertaining to South Asia and serves as a ready reference for those unfamiliar with this thriving field of study. More significantly, this special issue also allows us to interrogate these central epistemes, illuminating both the promises and the challenges of South Asian screen studies. In a field dominated by Anglophone scholars trained in Euro–American paradigms of film and media studies, our work fundamentally operates with a double consciousness. At one level, we find great value in critical frameworks generated in French, American, or German contexts that help us approach and analyse South Asian media cultures. At another level, we often find that categories of analysis are contingent on the grounds (and languages) from which they have emerged.


The Keywords Issue


Analogue and Digital
Ravi Sundaram

Ashish Rajadhyakhsha

Art Cinema
Aparna Frank

Stephen Putnam Hughes

B & C Circuit
Valentina Vitali

Kajri Jain

Darshana Sreedhar Mini

Lotte Hoek

Monika Mehta

M. Madhava Prasad

Ranjani Mazumdar

Amardeep Singh

DIY Media in South Asia
Amit S. Rai

Documentary in Contemporary India
Veena Hariharan

Richard Allen

Tejawsini Ganti

Bishnupriya Ghosh


Uma Maheshwari Bhrugubanda

Film Music
Shikha Jhingan

Kartik Nair

Nitin Govil

Rahul Mukherjee

Iftikhar Dadi

Vebhuti Duggal

Salma Siddique


Ravi S. Vasudevan

Manishita Dass

Sudhir Mahadevan

Sabeena Gadihoke

Lawrence Liang

The Popular
Anustup Basu

The Public
Anupama Prabhala

Shohini Ghosh

Moinak Biswas

Region/Regional Cinema
Ratheesh Radhakrishnan

Kuhu Tanvir, Ramna Walia

Social Media Platform
Aswin Punathambekar, Sriram Mohan

Song-and-dance sequence
Usha Iyer

Indranil Bhattacharya

Priya Jaikumar

Rachel Dwyer, Rakesh Sengupta

Shanti Kumar

Pavitra Sundar

Author Biographies



We’re happy to announce the publication of BioScope vol. 11. no. 2.

‘Can I share my screen?’ asks someone in a meeting. They fumble with the buttons. We move from a close shot of their face, inside the contours of their domestic background, and arrive jerkily onto their desktop. In the foreground is their presentation, hastily expanded to fill our screens. ‘Can you see that?’ Thumbs go up in the small frames around the screen, heads nodding and someone mouthing a monologue while on mute. We now share the screen. Who and what do we find when we share the screen in this manner? Many readers of BioScope will have had the opportunity to engage with one another in new ways, as seminars in Dhaka, New York or Singapore became accessible to vastly distributed participants in ways always already possible but previously rarely realised. While we have withdrawn physically, we have connected virtually in new ways. Across border and visa regimes, in different time zones, we are newly reconnected. We share a screen.
For a journal and community dedicated to exploring the screen in its multiple ways, the current moment presents plentiful avenues for reflection. How might we explore the plural mise-en-scène of the shared screen? What mode of spectatorship emerges when you continually see yourself somewhere inside the frame and where you spend a lot of time watching others watching their screen? What processes and practices of the personal screen have been hastened or diverted by pandemic life in all its forms, whether epidemiological (live graphs, stats), social (Bluetooth to register who nearby will prove to be infected), or political (antivaxx WhatsApp’s, stay at home directives)? And in what ways may the anomie of our progressive move to personal screens be attenuated to some extent by ‘sharing our screens’? Is the watchparty here to stay? With the personal screen a scholarly frontier and new screen-based social lives enveloping many, we draw on our collective knowledge and research practice to parse the contemporary moment.
In this issue of BioScope, we focus on forms of adaptation, transnational connectivity and changing social and political landscapes.


Share your screen
Ravi Vasudevan, Rosie Thomas, S.V. Srinivas, Kartik Nair, Debashree Mukherjee, Lotte Hoek


At Home in the World: Co-productions and Indian Alternative Cinema
Harmanpreet Kaur

#ImNotAChickFlick: Neoliberalism and Post-Feminism in Veere Di Wedding (My Friend’s Wedding, 2018)
Megha Anwer, Anupama Arora

Author-Screenwriter-Director (1930s-1950s): Articulating Authorship through Self-Adaptations and Film Novelisations in Bengal
Priyanjali Sen


Nigar Hai Toh Industry Hai: Notes on the Morale and Morality of Pakistani Film
Salma Siddique

Book Reviews

Book Review: Rahul Mukherjee, Radiant Infrastructures: Media, Environment, and Cultures of Uncertainty
Nusrat S. Chowdhury

Book Review: Nusrat Sabina Chowdhury, Paradoxes of the Popular: Crowd Politics in Bangladesh
Rahul Mukherjee

Book Review: Nusrat Sabina Chowdhury and Rahul Mukherjee in Conversation
Rahul Mukherjee, Nusrat Chowdhury

Book Review: Elora Halim Chowdhury & Esha Niyogi De, eds, South Asian Filmscapes: Transregional Encounters 
Chinmay Sharma

Capture All: A Sonic Investigation Cohort

We are delighted to announce the six participants of Capture All: A Sonic Investigation – Aasma Tulika, Joel Spring, Shareeka Helalludin, Suvani Suri, Thomas Smith and Uzma Falak. This project is a collaboration between Liquid Architecture (Melbourne) and Sarai (Delhi), supported by the Australia Council for the Arts.

AASMA TULIKA is interested in moments that disturb belief systems, and how apparatuses of control operate in such encounters experienced in everyday life. Her practice locates technological infrastructures as sites to unpack the ways in which power embodies, affects and moves narrative making processes. It is through a form of prodding narratives that circulate on social networks and mass media that she attempts to draw out experiences of ideological disorientation and slips. Her recent work explores the relationship between language and communication, and looks at the ways in which computational systems interpret language and participate in processes of social interaction and conditions of knowledge production. She was recently a fellow at the Home Workspace Program 2019-2020, Ashkal Alwan, Lebanon. Her work has appeared in Abr Circle and Restricted Fixations publication, and has participated in the Undivided Mind III – Art + Science program, KHOJ International Artists Association; HH Art Spaces, Goa; InOctober School, International Network for Contemporary Public Art. She has been a recipient of the Inlaks Fine Arts award and the Art Jameel Research and Practice Platform grant. She currently lives and works in Delhi.

JOEL SPRING is a Wiradjuri man raised between Redfern and Alice Springs with a practice based in architecture and interdisciplinary research. Currently, he is undertaking an MArch Research thesis at UTS that considers ongoing colonisation as both a geo-and-meta-physical event that locates materiality (and its materialising affects) as a critical site wherein ideas of race and extractive practices are trafficked through aesthetics and narration.

SHAREEKA HELALUDDIN is an experimental artist and community facilitator interested in the sonic, written word and performance; currently working on unceded Gadigal Country. Creating under the pseudonym akka, her sound practice explores temporality, drone, dissonance, archive, memory and a pursuit of deep listening. Her practice is informed by the lineage, theories and sounds of her mixed Tamil-Bengali, multi faith upbringing. Here, she utilises soundscapes as an optic through which she can explore senses of self and connectivity. Also a DJ, akka gathers warped global club with found sounds, in an attempt to unhinge expectations of form and aesthetic. She conjures a politicised understanding of the club that foregrounds the movement and joy of marginalised bodies. Her work also oscillates between lived and imagined experiences, interested in creating a tension between personal and theoretical. Whilst she has spent time exploring and writing within the realms of queer and feminist theories, studies of diaspora, digital humanities and speculative non-fiction; she is drawn to destablisising knowledge systems, learning to listen and defer to bodily and alternative ways of understanding. She has shared and collaborated on work as part of Digital Writers Festival, MCA’s Art Bar, First Draft Gallery, Verge Gallery, Parramatta Artist Studios, Sydney University Journal of Musicology as well as graduating from fbi Radio’s music mentorship program Dance Class. She has also co-facilitated anti-racism workshops and publications, and currently serves on the Hashim Advisory Committee for Aurora Group NSW. Having recently begun her studies into therapy, she hopes to move towards a healing practice that explores somatics, care and sonic expression as a means of liberation for communities who have been maligned by dominant and problematic structures of mental health. By coalescing creativity and therapy, she also hopes to decentre institutionally-bound art to more sustainable, community-orientated pursuits.

SUVANI SURI is an artist and researcher currently based in Delhi, India. She works with sound and intermedia assemblages and has been exploring various modes of transmission such as podcasts, auditory texts, sonic environments, maps, objects, installations, workshops and live interventions. Actively engaged in thinking through the techno-political processes that listening is embedded in, her curiosity about the spectral qualities of sound lends itself to the uncanny acoustic constructions, often found in her work. She is drawn towards generating chronicles of absurd sonic instances while recomposing the concepts, histories, fictions, myths, sensations and intensities that the aural carries and reveals. A graduate of the New Media Design programme (2014) from the National Institute of Design, India, she has been a component of several interdisciplinary practices, alternating between the roles of an artist, assembler, designer, educator, researcher and sound-producer. Her work has been exhibited at Khoj Studios (2014), 4th Kochi-Muziris Biennale (2018), Mumbai Art Room (2018), Sound Reasons Festival VI (2018) and Khoj Curatorial Intensive South Asia (2019). As part of an artists’ collective, she co-conceived and realised an online telephonic exhibition, Out of Line (2019). More recently, she was one of the artist-actants in Five Million Incidents, a program organised by Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan with the RAQS Media Collective (2020).

THOMAS SMITH is a Melbourne-based artist, musician and researcher. His practice combines performance, video, electronic music, speculative fiction, websites, curatorial projects and critical writing. Thomas’ work explores the tyranny and poetics of computational systems and other technology through eerie video assemblages, speculative texts, and live performances. Thomas’ work is concerned with the politics of creative economies, digital subjectivities, planetary futures, generic digital aesthetics, ambivalent affect and music as a mode of critical inquiry. Thomas is also one half of music production duo Utility, and runs an independent record label called Sumactrac with Jarred Beeler (DJ Plead) and Jon Watts. Thomas has completed a PhD through UNSW Art & Design, and teaches in the School of Design and Social Context at the RMIT Melbourne. Thomas’ works have been exhibited and/or performed at institutions such as the Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney), Unsound Festival (Poland), National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne), Central Academy of Fine Arts (Beijing), Nasjonalmuseet (Oslo), Floating Projects (Hong Kong), Goldsmiths College (London), Firstdraft Gallery (Sydney), Queensland University Art Museum (Brisbane), Alaska Projects (Sydney) and Blindside Gallery (Melbourne). Thomas’ writing has been published in Realtime Magazine, Runway Journal, Un Magazine and Plates Journal.

UZMA FALAK is a DAAD Doctoral Fellow at the University of Heidelberg where she is pursuing her PhD in Anthropology. Her poetry, essays, articles and reportage have appeared in The Baffler Magazine, Adi Magazine, Al Jazeera English, Warscapes, The Caravan, Himal Southasian, Kindle Magazine, Jadaliyya, Anthropology and Humanism, The Economic and Political Weekly, Himalaya Journal, The Electronic Intifada, The Palestinian Chronicle, New Internationalist including anthologies and collections like Gossamer: An Anthology of Contemporary World Poetry, Of Occupation and Resistance: Writings from Kashmir, Cups of Nunchai, among others. She won an Honourable Mention in the Society for Humanistic Anthropology’s Ethnographic Poetry Award. She was also an invited artist-scholar at the 2018 Warwick Tate Exchange held at the Tate Modern where she deployed sound, film and embroidery as forms of inquiries. Through intergenerational narratives, archival photographs, grassroots’ memory practices, poems and women’s songs, her documentary film Till Then The Roads Carry Her explores Kashmir women’s lifeworlds and repertories of resistance as alternate epistemes and seeks to disrupt the official histories and exoticised iconographies. It has been screened at the 2nd Annual Memory Studies Association Conference (University of Copenhagen), The 24th European Conference on South Asian Studies (University of Warsaw), Karlstorkino (Heidelberg), Tate Modern (London), CineDiaspora Film Festival (New York), School of Arts and Aesthetics (JNU), 12th IAWRT Asian Women’s Film Festival (New Delhi) and Open Frame Film Festival and Forum 2015 (New Delhi) among others.

About Capture All: A Sonic Investigation

How might experimental practices of sound and listening be mobilised as resources for understanding and intervening in questions of power, capture, and extraction? What aesthetic and political possibilities emerge by investigating sonic practices in relation to both domestic and urban space and their network interfaces?

From April to August 2021, Liquid Architecture (Melbourne) and Sarai (Delhi) will collaborate to support six artists, scholars, and writers based in India and Australia through a series of creative and critical workshops, intensives, and dialogues. Capture All sets out to investigate the sonic at a moment of accelerating surveillance capitalism that enmeshes individuals and communities in networks of capture and control.

This opportunity is contextualised and grounded in Sarai’s pioneering work on critical questions of media and information, urbanism, infrastructure, media archaeology, data and law, the commons, and the public domain in South Asia, and in Liquid Architecture’s ongoing research project ‘Machine Listening, a curriculum’, a critical platform for writing, interviews, music and artworks investigating the dystopian and utopian effects of algorithmic, machinic, networked and technologised listening on our social and political lives.

The Capture All program extends and departs from Sarai and Liquid Architecture’s work via research curators Laura McLean (Liquid Architecture) and Mehak Sawhney’s (Sarai) interests in forms of sonic capture in settler-colonial and post-colonial contexts. Capture All will consider Australia and India’s complex relationships to coloniality and extraction, and contemporary sonic transformations across physical and digital spaces in both countries. Within these contexts, we are interested in the ways user data is extracted, exploited, monetised, and used to govern user behaviour. Equally we are also interested in public and private sound; evolving uses of mobile phones and social media; the idea and reality of the ‘smart city’; uses of voice interfaces, biometrics, and sonic databases; forms of forensic listening; the economics of data-labour and listening-labour; the production and politics of artificial intelligence; music cultures and streaming; new acoustic ecologies; and sound and listening as modes of evasion and resistance.

In the midst of the profound mediatisation and turbulence of interpersonal relations – particularly in the wake of pandemic-induced lockdowns that have altered our online and offline, local and global engagements – this project aims to critically inhabit so-called ‘immaterial’ spaces and consider the value and agency of our online and offline togetherness.