Of Reels, Romance and Retakes carries the reader on a fascinating journey into the genesis, evolution and reception of Odia cinema. Telling the story of its quiet emergence in 1936, the book goes on to chronicle its unexpected triumphs in the coming decades when cinema arose as an undisputed cultural form of both the middle class and the masses. The account the book gives of how Odia cinema, aesthetically intertwined with the indigenous folk and literary tradition, carried forward both the project of modernity and Odia cultural identity is particularly illuminating and instructive. At the same time it takes an introspective look at the crisis Odia cinema faces now, sandwiched as it is between two competing social trends - one following the route to Hindi as the chief language of entertainment and the other that is focused on regional cultural assertion as a key to commercial success. On the whole, it is a timely and much awaited book that seeks to construct the hitherto uncharted ‘social narratives’ of cinema in Odisha.
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