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Celluloid Deities

The Visual Culture of Cinema and Politics in South India

by Preminda Jacob


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Towering billboards featuring photorealistic portraits of popular cinema stars and political leaders dominated the cityscape of Chennai, in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, throughout the second half of the twentieth century. Studying the manufactureand reception of these billboards—known locally as banners and cutouts—within the context of the entwined histories of the cinema industry and political parties in Tamil Nadu, Preminda Jacob reveals the broader significance of these fragments of visual culture beyond their immediate function as pretty pieces of advertising. Jacob analyzes the juxtaposition of cinematic and political imagery in the extra-cinematic terrain of Chennai's city streets and how this placement was pivotal to the elevation of regional celebrities to cult status. When interpreting these images and discussing their political and cultural resonance within the Tamil Nadu community, Jacob draws upon multiple perspectives to give appropriate context to this fascinating form of visualmedia.

Publication Details

Lexington Books
Lexington Books
Publication Date:


  • Adobe PDF eBook 2.8 MB

Preminda Jacob (Author)

Preminda Jacob is associate professor of art history and theory in the department of visual arts at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

More about Preminda Jacob
Celluloid Deities
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