Mythologicals and Modernity

Contesting Silent Cinema in South India


  • Stephen Hughes SOAS, University of London



Tamil film, mythological cinema, early modern cinema


During the 1920s mythological films provided the first Indian cinematic formula for commercial success based on this presumed all-India appeal of Hindu religious stories. This article examines the early history of mythological films as a particularly useful site for addressing questions about the complex and changing relations between media, religion, and politics. In particular, this article concentrates upon a series of significant films and debates contesting the contemporary significance of mythological films in Tamil speaking south India during the 1920s. It argues that mythological cinema was implicated within and refigured a series of ongoing religious, political and cultural debates on modernity during the 1920s.

Author Biography

Stephen Hughes, SOAS, University of London

Stephen Hughes currently teaches Anthropology and Sociology at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, where he is the Director of Studies for the MA program in the Anthropology of Media. Department of Anthropology and Sociology University of London Thornhaugh Street Russell Square London WC1H OGH


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How to Cite

Hughes, S. (2005). Mythologicals and Modernity: Contesting Silent Cinema in South India. Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts, Cultural Histories, and Contemporary Contexts, 1(2-3), 207–235.