Architectures of pirate film cultures: encounters with Korean Wave in “Northeast” India
Abstract The essay examines the multiple force fields within which South Korean films and teleserials circulate in Northeastern India. It looks at the complex imbrications of infrastructure, the political tensions between the region and the nation, pirate modes of cultural reproduction, dissemination, and reception to re-negotiate the larger terrains of identity, national culture, and modernity. The argument is built-up through an analysis of the socio-political world of film viewers, engagement with film theory, theories on globalization, and writings on cultural travel and access in non-Western contexts. It examines the forms of “localization” and appropriation of South Korean popular culture by emphasizing the materiality of media, the role of diverse socio-political agents, digital technology, and the dense networks of circulation. While refraining from textual analysis, the study draws attention to how the imageries of modern life offered by films and teleserials are accessed in “debased” and dubbed forms that often distort authorial intent. Such modes of engagement engendered by piracy and non-legal media distribution and reception introduces certain “aesthetics” that have a bearing on the consumption of media. Thus the narrative of access—in fits and starts—to a world of consumerism exemplified by the Korean Wave is also a narrative of the various modernities that exist within Asia.
Keywords: Korean Wave, Northeast India, infrastructure, insurgency, piracy, globalization, flows, movement, modernity.
The author is PhD candidate in Cinema Studies at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.