Sharing the silver screen : the social experience of cinemagoing in the Indian diaspora
Faculty of Social Sciences. Communication Sciences
Bioscope: South Asian Screen Studies
, p. 88-106
University of Antwerp
Despite the growing attention paid to the social practice of cinemagoing and to Indian diasporic film cultures, little research has combined these two topics. This article looks into issues of community as well as discursive practices occurring at the intersection of these two phenomena. First, it examines the physical community formation generated by the theater space as a setting for watching homeland films, in accordance with more general theories about diasporic communities and media consumption (Georgiou, 2006). Second, it looks into the audience discourses that precede and follow the actual cinemagoing act (Gillespie, 2002; Staiger, 2000). Based on a case study in the Belgian city of Antwerp, large-scale as well as in-depth insights are developed through a multi-method approach, combining analyses of in-depth interviews with the results of an exploratory cinema survey. These revealed that Indian diasporic cinemagoing is limited in its community-forming function (by issues of comfort, audience diversity, as well as behavioral conformism to a Western context) and is characterized by transnational discursive practices informing film preferences. A general change in the social experience of cinemagoing occurred in the diasporic context when compared to India and intercommunity differences found expression in cinemagoing culture.