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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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Embodied Engagements

Embodied Engagements

Viewership Practices and the Habitus of Telugu Cinema

(p.157) 4 Embodied Engagements
Deities and Devotees

Uma Maheswari Bhrugubanda

Oxford University Press

Through ethnographic explorations of the question of viewership, this chapter shifts the focus from film texts to film-viewing contexts. It critically reflects upon the embodied character of viewer engagement with mythological and devotional cinema through a special focus on the figure of the possessed spectator. It theorizes the interesting intersections between film viewership and religious practice through the concept of habitus. It engages with the question, does affective engagement necessarily preclude critical and rational engagement with the narrative? It argues that viewers bring with them to the cinema embodied dispositions and sensibilities, that is, a particular habitus that has been cultivated in traditional performative contexts and this shapes their responses. However, this does not necessarily render them passive or uncritical in their engagement with film.

Keywords:   embodiment, habitus, viewership, film reception, devotional cinema, mythological cinema, film publicity, viewer ethnography

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