This course is discontinued

SAS3010 – Bollywood and the Nation: Conflict lines in Modern India

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

Choose semester

Course content

Forbidden love between the rich and the poor, a Muslim man standing up against a Hindu political party, a middle-class woman finding out her son is gay-- in Bollywood, all of these conflicts are resolved while singing and dancing in exotic locales, designer costumes and choreographed moves. Studying Bombay cinema, with its unique capacity for tying together the real and the fantastic, is a window into the dreams, struggles and pleasures of billions of people.

The course will explore the ways in which the postcolonial Indian nation is imagined, produced and reproduced in Bombay cinema by locating it within contemporaneous socio-political history. Bollywood, the largest film industry in the world, not only has significant ties with the world of politics as an industry; it has constantly reflected the changing public imaginary of the nation and ideal citizenship with its conflict lines, moral dilemmas and resolutions. In order to understand how contemporaneous political events are reflected, represented, and negotiated by Bollywood, this course will focus on the content, plots and ideology of Bollywood films from 1950s to the present.

Placing films as cultural texts in the political field, the course will show the changing face of the Indian nation from the nascent, socialist utopia in the 50s, to the crisis of the ‘emergency’ period in the late 70s, to the global dreams ushered by liberalization in the 90s and finally the return to vernacular political realities in the 2010s. How does the ideal citizen (almost always a Hindu male) placed in these changing political situations, do the right thing? How does the image and roles of the woman in Bollywood change through these periods?

Learning outcome

Bollywood is not only one of the main cultural imports of India; it informs the popular imagination of its people in significant ways. Understanding some of the tenets, tropes and major films of Bollywood will allow students to understand key conflict lines in modern India. On completion, students will have:

  • an ability to read films as cultural texts
  • the skills to analyse important conflict lines in modern India through the prism of Bollywood
  • the capacity to understand, deconstruct, and effectively use popular cultural material in their research and fieldwork.
  • an ability to work independently, select essay topics, and identify and analyse relevant material


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

Sufficient reading skills in English.


14 two-hour sessions, consisting of a mix of lectures, seminars, and films. Seminars and individual supervision are offered in English. The curriculum is in English.

The teaching format has the goal of activating the students in the learning process, to give ongoing feedback on academic progress and understanding, as well as to make the individual student’s progression visible to him/her. The majority of the lectures are concentrated in the first part of the course whereas most of the second part is dedicated to seminar-based teaching focussed on the term paper.

Since the lectures are centred on the screening of film clips, it is essential that the students be present in class to learn the tools of analysis as a group. After five of the lectures, five respective feature films will be provided which the students are expected to watch at home.

Compulsory activity:

Students must submit a list of literature to be approved by the course leader before the term paper can be submitted. The deadline for the literature list will be announced at the start of the semester.

All compulsory activities must be approved in order to qualify for the exam. It is the student’s responsibility to check whether or not the compulsory activities are approved. This is how you apply for valid absence from compulsory activities/compulsory attendance.


The exam consists of a term paper of approximately 10 pages (2300 characters / page). Students are expected to work on their term paper throughout the course and a number of seminars are reserved for presentations of draft papers.

Students can choose their own topic based on the themes covered during the course. Students must actively use the course curriculum in their essay, and must also identify and use an additional approximately 300 pages of academic literature relevant to their chose essay topic. A list of this literature must be submitted to and approved by the course leader before the term paper can be submitted. Alternatively, if – as a preparation for the MA studies – the students wish to write on a South Asian topic unrelated to the theme of the course they must also identify and use an additional approximately 800 pages of academic literature relevant to their chose essay topic. A list of this literature must be submitted to and approved by the course leader before the term paper can be submitted.


Previous exam questions and censor guidelines

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.

Facts about this course






Every spring


Every spring

Teaching language