This study of the Indian cinema is concerned particularly with cinema-goers in Madurai, a city in Tamil Nadu, South India. Sara Dickey reviews the history of Tamil film, explains the structure of the industry, and presents the perspective of the filmmakers. However, the core of the book is an analysis of the films themselves and the place they have in the lives of poor people, who organize fan clubs, discuss the films and the actors, and in various ways relate these fantasy worlds to their own lives. Dickey argues that the effect of these films is ultimately conservative, for they glorify poverty while holding out the hope of a better future. Her rich ethnography makes an interesting contribution to the study of film in India and, more generally, to the understanding of popular culture in an Indian city.
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