First Full Draft Finished!

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Looking over it, I know there’s A LOT more work to be done in the next several months, but I finally have a full first draft – complete with a Works Cited page and footnotes 🙂 34 pages! Putting a 40-pg draft together over break doesn’t seem so bad now!

Govil Office Hours

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  • read introduction, Ch 3, and Ch 7 from Partha Chatterjee’s book Wages of Freedom
  • introduction: bring up complications about Bollywood term and the contradictory meanings/representation it has
  • also include paragraphs on industrial trade, IT and pharmaceutical alliances: interesting for reader PLUS they will further legitimize the study of Indo-Hungarian interactions from a new standpoint, namely that of film
  • also consider section on “Why India?” … more for what India gets out of the relationship rather than the point of studying India (this is implied in the fact that popular Hindi cinema IS the focal point)
  • introduction: don’t use “transpired” in research question; try “framed” or “enabled”
  • Govil’s “Frictions” article:
    • look into cause/effects
    • state is NOT directly funding Bollywood! it is always private: state started opening up processes of investment, opening up barriers for foreign corporations to ally with Indian/national corporations…this is not a story about direct subsidies or tax cuts!
  • with Hungarian film festivals, consider/mention if other categories of film (besides that of Bollywood) have been featured over the years

Freewriting Exercise 3

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Okay so I have to figure out how to write this introductory section of my paper; it’s due on Wednesday and I’m aiming to put something together with my introduction as well as the significance of studying Hungary in particular. I have to figure out how to morph the proposal language into something more scholarly and less “assignment-y.” There’s always the strategy of moving from passive to active voice gosh I can’t believe I’m making that mistake so often even now and generally cutting out the more meta-narrative heavy elements.

So with the introduction what am I doing? I’m creating a roadmap for myself, trying to figure out how to succinctly sum up my argument, moving temporally from the 1956 starting date of interaction between India and Hungary and then transfer over to the period of centralization but only in the context of the later period of economic liberalization, and then how media-related technology’s rise coincided with the 1990s when the shift of the Hindi film production process became more of an industry, and was seen as such officially by the Indian government. 1998? Still need to look into that. Then how Hungary has been growing and pushing to be seen as a primary shooting location (and cheaper). Then there are the film festivals between the two countries, especially with Bollywood filming in Hungary and overall globalizing. This is where ideas of media flow, globalization, electronic media etc this is where this all comes into play.

But it’s just so intimidating and daunting to realize I’m writing this first page of the first draft of this paper. Gahhhh. I still have to remember to continue refining my questions. Also have to post this up on the blog, maybe I should post up sections of the draft as I complete them? I’ll have to be careful about that though.

I talked to my roommate earlier about the project, just explaining it, and I was happy to see that I’m starting to get more coherent when summarizing it. I never thought I was that good at talking about things, and I still know I’m better at forming my arguments/thoughts on paper, but there’s something about the easy flow of speech (yeah Tredinnick already making his mark on my own approach to writing and researching) that has been helping me formulate my argument’s structure in a much more understandable way. Let me try to think back to what I told my roommate, or even better, pretend I’m writing out what I was talking about earlier:

So I’m doing this thesis project for Comm, and basically it’s about Bollywood’s presence in Hungary. It’s unusual because Hungary hasn’t been seen historically as a site for real scholarly work with the Hindi film industry, and that’s part of the reason I decided to focus there. Plus I have cousins there so there’s that bit of personal interest. Okay, so what’s strange is that the South Asian diaspora in Hungary is in the low hundreds, so there’s not this “reaching to the homeland” kind of desire to connect to India with Bollywood films as there is in the UK or the US, or a dozen other bigger diasporic clumps. What’s interesting about Hungary is that Bollywood’s role there has been more of a carefully constructed and invested plan by the governments of both countries to use film as a way to culturally connect. For some reason — and probably because India is the much stronger country, both economically and infrastructurally — Bollywood has had much more of a presence in Hungary than the other way around. I’m sure there’s something in that related to the aesthetic uniqueness of Hindi films, but I’m not sure at all. Don’t even know if that’s going to factor in my final paper…way too early to start eliminating threads to talk about.

Anyway, so I’ve found out that the origin of present-day interactions between India and Hungary stemmed from the 1956 Hungarian revolution, or rather, the Indian response to it, which was surprisingly open and sympathetic — surprising because amicable Indo-Soviet relations were still blooming at this time. So since the 1950s, there has been a constant progression (or at least existence) or Indo-Hungarian trade; in the last 10-15 years this has been revolving around IT and pharmaceutical industry. This really boomed after the respective periods of economic liberalization for each country. Both countries won their independence in the last 60 years, and because of their relative youth, both have historically had governments that strove for strong central control, which makes sense, given the need to reform and progress in the most controlled way possible.

With this period of economic liberalization in India came the idea of granting Bollywood (rather, the Hindi film collective entity) the status of “industry,” which would make it qualified for government subsidies and other forms of formalized funding and backing. So this is the era when Bollywood films really start branching out in a global sense, as finally they have the infrastructural backbone needed for global movement. Govil’s article (“Size Matters”) highlights this ongoing corporatization of the Bollywood industry.

Similarly, it is in the last 10 years that Hungary has started holding film festivals featuring Bollywood movies. As part of its push to be seen as a viable shooting location for many foreign production companies, Hungary has been actively promoting itself. Here is where the idea of “small nations” comes in; Hungary can never really (in the near future, at least) hope to gain wide global presence with its films…it has neither the infrastructure nor the linguistic relevance to achieve this popularity. Thus it has found its own niche in the realm of cinema to be importing films as well as exporting its physical locations for other countries to use. This is not without complications of cultural identity and representation, but economically it has been very successful.

So when it comes down to it, there is the Bollywood globalization movement (here focusing on its spread into Hungary), the preceding decades of bilateral trade that allowed this cultural conduit to even exist (or make financial sense as a source of investment), and simultaneously the effect of this relationship in the bigger context of Hungary’s own progression in the global network of interactions related to cinema/film production and distribution. This complex relationship brings me to my main research questions…

All right, that’s enough for now. I think I’m slowly understanding how to incorporate the idea of economic/market liberalization into the more film-heavy angle that I was originally pursuing. Time to save/publish this; it’ll be interesting to read it tomorrow and reflect on it more objectively 🙂

Freewriting Exercise 2

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Let’s focus on the significance or justification of the Hungary choice now. First there’s the idea of it being non-diasporic, meaning that it isn’t really impacted by natural desires among its population to see Bollywood films as a way to related back to or connect to the homeland, traditions, etc. This means, subsequently, that the original reason for Bollywood films coming to Hungary had to have been injected somehow. I think this is where the more political-economic relations come in…I need to look maybe on LexisNexis for when the first such film festival was held — probably in the early 1990s?

Then secondly there’s the conception f Hungary being a small nation; why is this relevant? Again, like with the first factor, the largeness of nation size (US, UK, etc) with very strong governments and infrastructure — and therefore cinematic funding potential — have otherwise been the focus on study up until now. Hungary is different in that it has a lively but limited cinema industry, and only recently  has it started looking for foreign investment with films (on a bigger funding level; there have been international co-directing projects since the 1950s). As it doesn’t have the means — or the viability really with the linguistic obstacle — to export its own films widely with much success, Hungary instead has opened itself up as a cheap filming location. There are social hierarchies at work here, but then again, this provides an example of a small nation doing what it can to boost foreign interest (and therefore its own economic status) without overtaxing its limited resources. India has also jumped on this shooting location bandwagon, and it has had other investment success.

Now I hope to make a third reason (justifying my academic focus on Bollywood in Hungary) with the fact that the Indo-Hungarian alliance, despite it being somewhat low-key, was a very significant move by an Indian government that was only into its ninth year of sovereignty. I need to still double check this but if it is true, then that might show the potential ongoing interest in Hungary as one of the first small nations that India actively interacted with soon after its independence. I really need to look up details of the non-alignment, plus the overall Indo-Soviet atmosphere in the 1950s.

Freewriting Exercise 1

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Okay, just scribbled into a notebook for 15 minutes – no real topic/guidelines, I just wanted to try this free-writing approach out that I’d read about in an article assigned for the seminar (by Joan Bolker). Here’s the unedited transcript from that…later on I’ll look over it and trying to pull out things that seem useful.

Hmm okay so what am I looking at here? One thing is the idea of Bollywood globalizing, but I honestly think most emphasis should be on the build-up of this interaction between Hungry and all of the media/communication consequences from there. By establishing how this relationship is unique, I can proceed to suggest why it is so significant. Why? Because it shows an emergence of film as an inter-cultural bridge. It emphasizes the potential of Bollywood film and its own role/identity as following certain classical-based or mythical tropes and how this transcends culture-specific boundaries. While the whole things with diaspora and NRI is important generally, it would need a critical mass of research and explanation to be understandable and ultimately a waste of time because the Indo-Hungarian history basically contradicts all of that. So Bollywood’s uniqueness and the potential of cinema as a vehicle for communication. But more importantly, I need to place that in the context of the other types of interaction between the two countries. SO start with India’s independence and films at that time? 1947 is close to 1956, but it will be critical to see the Indo-Soviet (filmic?) relationship prior to the 1956 Hungarian Revolution to tie the two times/moments together. From there I need to do more research of India’s (related to non-alignment) position in the 1950s. Should the 1956 Revolution and India’s support be the starting point? Yes, but should be qualified as the starting point and not the focus. I think even by this section it should be clear that there are other more theoretical elements related to media flow and geo-politics, because that’s what it’ll come to by the end: the importance of this Bollywood/Hungary relationship as a culmination – or perhaps just the most recent step or progression – or the more long-enduring interactions. This shows how India and Hungary have been able to first break out of post-colonial peripheral roles, although Hungary is still in its throes, at least much more than India. From there, how technology has let these flows occur more frequently and ubiquitously, and how cinema or at least Bollywood has come to be a platform for broader cultural interaction and representation with the official film festivals and all. Then comes the issues of how this is a new type of media flow, and again more Appadurai stuff will be relevant. Definitely have to weave in the Larkin/Hausa example in somewhere, because it is another example of 1) Bollywood as a form of cultural interaction in a place without much South Asian diasporic representation and of 2) this more global form of media flow between formerly colonized countries. I have to figure out how to keep the focus fairly contemporary too, which means some starting point in the more recent past with India/Hungary relations. Also, there is the idea of Hungary’s own cinematic past? Is it worthwhile to try and go into the issue of colonialism as a temporal framework and how it isn’t good enough to use for analysis simply because it imposes a Western-oriented context onto non-Western issues? Or rather, that these phrases are no longer sufficient because there has been a significant reordering and shift away from the West/Rest type of info dissemination, etc.?