ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Tamil Cultural Elites and Cinema-Outline of an Argument

Tamil Cultural Elites and Cinema Outline of an Argument M S S Pandian The arrival of the talkies in Tamil in the 1930s confronted the Tamil elite with a challenge in that while they were implicated in the cinematic medium in more than one way, they, in retaining their exclusive claim to high culture, had to differentiate their engagement withcinema from that of the subalterns. This essay discusses how the Tamil elite negotiated this challenge by deploying notions of realism, ideology of uplift and a series of binaries which restored the dichotomy of high culture and low culture within the cinematic medium itself THE arrival of talkies in Tamil during the 1930s was received with much enthusiasm by the lower class film audience. However, such subaltern enthusiasm for this new form of leisure was simultaneously accompanied by enormous anxiety among the upper caste/ class elites.' Though this anxiety was initially framed in terms of low cultural tastes of the subalterns and resolved within the binary of high culture vs low culture, the elites were soon confronted with newer problems. Quickly they realised that cinema as a medium carried the unwelcome possibility of upsetting and recasting the already existing and carefully patrolled boundaries between high culture and low culture.

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