Product of a Historical Moment
by Jerry Pinto , , pp.,
August 2006, volume 30, No 8

Superstars and cult figures are products of historical moments. Emerging at particu- lar socio-historical junctures, cult figures in cinema begin to embody much more than just the character they play. Film and Cultural studies have tried to understand the concept of stardom and iconicity as sustained by a dual engagement with the site of fictional performance and the fears and aspirations in the world outside. Helen, dancer par excellence and iconic vamp of Bombay cinema, is one such figure. Popular cinema scholars and commentators agree that song and dance sequences are significant narrative tropes. Despite their artifice and flight from reality, song sequencers are elaborately staged fantasies that allow people to transcend the material and mundane realities of everyday life. Dayanita Singh has a remarkable series of photographs of choreographer Saroj Khan exploring precisely this idea. Moreover, song and dance sequences have always had a special relationship to women both in the film and in the audience.

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