Distribution and circulation of Indian films in Singapore
Anjali Gera ROY
Abstract Despite the long history of the export and exhibition of Indian films in Southeast Asia, a systematic documentation of how Hindi and Tamil films from India found their way into the region has yet to be undertaken. Theatrical exhibition of Indian films is reported to have sharply declined or ended since the late 1970s in their traditional markets in Malaya, Ceylon, British East Africa, Burma, Persian Gulf Ports, Thailand and South Vietnam. Yet films continued to be circulated through formal and informal networks such as video parlours, CD shops, television and, lately, on the internet. Although Singapore has the unique distinction of being the only Southeast Asian country, which still has a few theatres exclusively dedicated to screening Indian films, theatrical exhibition is not the only medium through which they are circulated. Based on fieldwork conductedbetween 2008 and 2010, this paper contrasts the formal distribution of Indian films with their informal circulation through which they “leak” into the multi-ethnic spaces of the global city. Drawing on photographs, exhibits, interviews, reports and observations, the essay focuses on television, CD shops, lending libraries and internet through which Indian films are disseminated in Singapore.
Keywords: Bollywood, Indian Films, Hindi films, Leakage, Cinematograph Act, Great World, New World, Shaw Brothers, Jade, Mediacorp, Vasantham Central, Suria.
Anjali Gera Royis a Professor in the Department of Humanities of Social Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur. She has published a number of essays in literary, film and cultural studies. Her publications include a co-edited volume (with Nandi Bhatia) Partitioned Lives: Narratives of Home, Displacement and Resettlement (Delhi: Pearson Longman, 2008) and a monograph Bhangra Moves: From Ludhiana to London and Beyond(Aldersgate: Ashgate, 2010). She has recently co-edited (with Chua Beng Huat) The Travels of Indian Cinema: From Bombay to LA(Delhi: OUP, 2012) and edited The Magic of Bollywood: At Home and Abroad(Delhi: Sage, 2012).