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University of Wisconsin–Madison

South Asian Film and Media Collection


This project builds a strong research focus on South Asian Cinema at UW–Madison by bringing in archival material as a part of the film studies collection. The materials to be procured include trade magazines, film scripts, song-booklets, posters, and film related ephemera. The aim of this project is two-fold.

First, to identify databases related to South Asian films that can be purchased to provide access to our faculty, staff, and students. This will be crucial in making study courses on Indian films more research intensive. This can help students conduct primary research, an experience that will equip them to analyze and historicize film production practices.

Second, the project will identify private collectors and work with provincial libraries in India to identify and collect material and in turn, track primary film-related sources dispersed across different libraries. The investigators plan to reach out to film society groups, publishers of little magazines, state film development boards, and film distributors to collate material that can be housed in the South Asian Film and Media collection.

Expansion of film-related materials will allow students to critically think about how South Asian cinema has been built around a history of absence and allow them to also learn about critiques of South Asian films by South Asian authors in their time. The general lack of attention to film preservation has impacted the documentation of the material histories of film production and circulation.

There is a growing interest in courses based on South Asian film and media in UW–Madison offered by departments such as Communication Arts, English, History, Asian Languages and Cultures, as well as language intensive courses in Urdu, Hindi, Tamil and the SASLI language program, which include many more South Asian Language courses, offered through the Center for South Asia and the Language Program Office/WISLI and the Center for South Asia every summer. This collection will benefit undergraduate and graduate students (particularly PhD student research), making UW–Madison a top archival destination for scholars interested in pursuing Indian cinema research. Diversifying what Indian cinema means is essential for decolonizing how Indian films are taught in the West, as well as offer space for Dalit, indigenous and otherwise marginalized film cultures to enter the archival logics of Indian and global film studies.


Darshana Sreedhar Mini, Assistant Professor of Communication Arts


Todd Michelson-Ambelang, Senior Librarian South Asian Studies, Memorial Library


Anirban Kapil Baishya, Assistant Professor of Communication Arts

Mou Banerjee, Assistant Professor of History