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Deities and DevoteesCinema, Religion, and Politics in South India$
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Uma Maheswari Bhrugubanda

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199487356

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199487356.001.0001

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The Exemplary Citizen–Devotee and the Other

The Exemplary Citizen–Devotee and the Other

Negotiating History and Religious Difference in the Saint Film

Chapter:
(p.86) 2 The Exemplary Citizen–Devotee and the Other
Source:
Deities and Devotees
Author(s):

Uma Maheswari Bhrugubanda

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780199487356.003.0003

Chapter 2 begins with a theoretical discussion of majorities and minorities within a secular liberal nation. Later it examines two saint films, Bhakta Ramadasu (1964) and Sri Ramadasu (2006) in which the story of a seventeenth century devotee-poet who was an administrative official under the Muslim Qutub Shahi rulers of Golconda, is mobilized at different moments in Indian history to deal with the question of difference both within Hinduism and outside it. More specifically it demonstrates the ways in which Muslims and the Urdu language are ‘made minor’ in mainstream cinema and thereby in the Telugu cultural imaginary. The first film is representative of the syncretic approach to the Muslim presence while the later film reflects the majoritarian Hindutva logic. Despite this crucial difference, both films are unable to imagine modes of toleration that overcome the limitations of liberal secularism.

Keywords:   Saint films, Telugu devotional cinema, Ramadasu, liberal secularism, syncretism, minority, Nagaiah, Nagarjuna, Muslims, Kabir

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