Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Four-Meter-High Gods and Heroes: Mythological Bodies

Linda Hemphill


The earliest genre of Indian film, the Mythological, presented the gods and heroes from the myths and epics of Hinduism in a new medium, with all the entrancing corporeality that the cinema screen suggested. Audience reception, to be found in an energetic culture of newspaper review, over time expresses not only the changing tastes of a maturing filmic critical faculty, but the way in which this feedback influenced cinematic portrayals, often leading to an eventual transmogrification of beloved characters. The physical representation on the screen of the bodies of divinities and avatars presented different problems to producers as their concerns grew to encompass not only censorship, but competition from other increasingly popular genres; such as the social genre film, in which sexuality could be scrutinized by the audience while pruriently censured. Films of such genres came to accommodate those physical types that had long been a staple of the Mythological genre, its champions and villains, along with its stories; without the growing confusion that the Mythological genre displayed in the physical portrayal of characters, or in faithfulness to character histories or even names. The alterations over the period of the genre’s dominance and decline, to clothing, sexuality and personal relationships, extended to the representation of myth and epic in other mediums, that of picture books and television, the two worlds in which the Mythological genre was reincarnated.

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