Films constitute the most vibrant mirror of South Asian culture and societies. This series of sixteen films, including commercial, ‘alternative’ or ‘art’ and experimental short films, brings together a broad spectrum of South Asian film in all its diversity. Indian film is a highly influential cultural phenomenon, meaningful not only to Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, but also Middle Eastern, Southeast Asian, African and Eastern European people. It is also a primary window through which people in the larger South Asian diaspora in the United States and Canada maintain their connection to their worlds of origin.

Selections from Bengali, Tamil and Malayalam films, offbeat and independent films, the Parallel Cinema, and shorts, as well as the better-known productions of “Bollywood,” are showcased in the series. While Bollywood has great appeal in the popular imagination, the virtuosity and sophistication of Indian filmmaking as a whole is less known or appreciated except by cinephiles and specialists in South Asian culture. The films have been selected on the basis of their historical and cultural significance, critical reception, and artistic excellence.

Three panels involving major scholars of cinema and society, filmmakers, faculty and students from Queens College are open free, along with the films. The panels and films highlight themes that have concerned South Asian directors and audiences over the years such as gender, political rights, urbanization, and identity and cosmopolitanism in rapidly changing societies. They also draw attention to distinctive aspects of the work of specific directors and actors, such as Satyajit Ray, Mani Ratnam, Amitabh Bachchan and Shabana Azmi.

The program is sponsored in collaboration with the Kupferberg Center for the Visual and performing Arts and the Departments of History, Economics, Media Studies, and Classical, Middle Eastern, and Asian Languages and Cultures, as part of Queens College’s “Year of India.” It was assembled by the Film Committee of the Year of India at Queens College, Serinity Young, Amy Winter, and Satadru Sen.


September 12-December 5, 2012

All screenings and programs take place on
Wednesdays, 4:30 in the Godwin-Ternbach Museum,
405 Klapper Hall


September 12:
(1975), 162 min.
Directed by Ramesh Sippy
Film Series Introduction Amy Winter, GTM
Film Introduction, Satadru Sen, History Dept, QC

Two gunfighters hired to protect a village from the bandit Gabbar Sing. An “eastern western” and the most celebrated Hindi blockbuster of all time.

September 19:
Panel “Representing India on Film”


  • Dilip Menon, Prof. of History and Mellon Chair in India Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa: “Making a Song and Dance of it: Taking Bollywood Seriously”
  • Jyotika Virdi, Assoc. Prof., Communication, Media and Film, University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada: “Challenges and Resistance to the National Framework in Indian Cinema Studies”
  • Chair: Satadru Sen, History Dept., QC

A reception will follow

October 3:
(The Orphan) (1951), 193 min.
Directed by Raj Kapoor
Film Intro: Amy Winter, GTM

A crusading woman lawyer, the thief she loves, and his father the judge, come together in the courtroom. The legal system of independent India becomes a mechanism for examining the ancient story of the Ramayana in this seminal film by director and actor Raj Kapoor. This was also the first Indian film to be a major hit outside India (especially in the USSR).

October 10:
(The Tax) (2001), 224 min.
Directed by Ashutosh Gowarikar
Film Intro: Satadru Sen, History Dept., QC

Cricket meets nationalism meets Bollywood as desperate peasants take on British soldiers in a game with very high stakes.  One of the great sports films of all time, even for people who know nothing about cricket.

October 17:
Shatranj ke Khiladi (The Chess Players) (1977), 129 min.
Directed by Satyajit Ray
Film Intro: Serinity Young, Classic, Middle Eastern & Asian Languages & Cultures, QC

Ray’s masterpiece of social decadence and political intrigue, and a brilliant satire of a key moment in the British conquest of India.

October 24:
36 Chowringhee Lane (1981), 122 min.
Directed by Aparna Sen
Film Intro: Serinity Young, Classical, Middle Eastern and Asian Languages & Cultures, QC

A young couple befriends a lonely old Anglo-Indian woman so that they can use her home as their love nest. One of the first major Indian films by a woman director, and a nuanced study of callousness, intergenerational relations and class in modern India.

October 31:
Elippathayam (The Rat Trap) (1981), 121 min.
Directed by Adoor Gopalakrishnan
Film Intro:  Satadru Sen, History Dept., QC

Gopalakrishnan’s most acclaimed work, this Malayalam film about acceptance and rebellion examines a man and his three sisters living in feudal Kerala.

November 8:

Two short films
Film Intro: Satadru Sen, History Dept., QC

  • Fear of Flying, 2005, directed by Naeem Mohaiemen and Anjali Malhotra, a Visible Collective project.
  • Lingering Twenty, 2004, directed by Sehban Zaidi and Naeem Mohaiemen, a Visible Collective project.

These short films examine the attempt of people to live with dignity under the threat of state violence.

Panel: “The Cultural Politics of the National Security State”


  • Uzma Rizvi, Social Science and Cultural Studies, Pratt Institute and Visible Collective member
  • Prerana Reddy, Douglas Redd Ford Foundation Fellow, documentary filmmaker and researcher, Queens Museum of Art and Visible Collective member (

Moderator: Satadru Sen, History Dept., QC

December 5:
The Namesake
(2006), 123 mins.
Directed by Mira Nair
Film Intro: Madhulika Khandelwal, Asian American Center

Based on the novel by Jhumpa Lahiri, this film focuses on a family of Indian immigrants in contemporary America. Part love story, part family tragedy and part immigration epic, this is probably the best example of the cinema of the Indian diaspora.

A round-table discussion follows


February 6-April 24, 2013

All screenings and programs take place on
Wednesdays, 4:30 in the Godwin-Ternbach Museum,
405 Klapper Hall


February 6:
The Cup
(1999), 93 min.
Directed by Kyentse Norbu
Film Intro: Serinity Young, Classical, Middle Eastern & Asian Languages & Cultures, QC

Young Tibetan monks in India try to find a television on which to watch the soccer World Cup.

Introduction to the program in Himalayan Studies Minor: William McClure, Dean of Arts & Humanities and Professor, Classical, Middle Eastern & Asian Languages & Cultures.

February 13:
Aparajito (Undefeated) (1956), 110 min.
Directed by Satyajit Ray
Film Intro: Amy Winter, GTM

The second, and perhaps the best, of Ray’s famous Apu Trilogy, the film follows Apu as he leaves home for school. A narrative of the complex interplay of social change, family ties and freedom.

February 20:
Ekdin Pratidin
(A Day Like Any Other) (1979), 93 min.
Directed by Mrinal Sen
Film Intro: Serinity Young, Classical, Middle Eastern & Asian Languages & Cultures, QC

One day in the life of a lower-middle-class Calcutta family. The daughter who supports the family has not come home from work, and imagination and anxiety run wild in this taut drama about gender roles and class values.

February 27:
(Obsession)  (1977), 141 min.
Directed by Shyam Benegal
Film Intro:  Serinity Young, Classical, Middle Eastern & Asian Languages & Cultures, QC

A Eurasian family is kidnapped by rebels during the ‘Sepoy Mutiny’ of 1857, only for the kidnapper to become infatuated with the young daughter of the family. One of the best films to come out of the Parallel Cinema movement of the 1970s and 1980s, and a reflection on race, war and colonialism.

April 3:
(2002), 185 min.
Directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Film Intro: Anupama Kapse, Media Studies, QC

One of the most lavishly produced Indian movies of all time, this film version of Sarat Chandra Chatterjee’s 1917 novel of love and tragedy epitomizes the cinema of Indian economic liberalization.

April 10:
Pratidwandi (The Adversary) (1971), 100 min.
Directed by Satyajit Ray
Film intro: Satadru Sen, History Dept., QC

The first part of the Calcutta trilogy based on the novel by Sunil Gangopadhyay. This film is set during the period of the naxalite movement in Bengal, and tells the story of Siddharta, an educated middle-class man caught within the turmoils of social unrest. Corruption and unemployment is rampant, and Siddhartha cannot align himself with either his revolutionary activist brother, or career-oriented sister.

April 17:
Nayakan (The Hero) (1987), 145 min.
Directed by Mani Ratnam
Film Intro: Anupama Kapse, Media Studies, QC

Mani Ratnam’s gangster classic of Tamil cinema about a boy who sees his father gunned down by a policeman.

April 24: Closing event
Lecture: Anupama Kapse, Media Studies: "Clothing, Dress and Fashion in Indian Cinema."

A round-table discussion and reception follow


Museum Hours
Mon.–Thurs. 11 am to 7 pm, Sat. 11 am to 5 pm

Please note that the museum, located in Klapper Hall, Room 405, is not open on holidays and when the college is closed. Admission is free. For directions to Queens College, please visit:

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