Film is a migratory medium that has traveled across the globe ever since the Lumière Brothers first brought the world to the world in their films from 1895. More than a century later a documentary film, Shifting Frames: Migration and the Movies in India, shows audiences and owners of Indian cinema halls are also migratory.

Although Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) is the capital of Bollywood’s commercial Hindi cinema, migrant workers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh prefer Bhojpuri films in their mother tongue. And they watch them in single-screen picture palaces like the Palace Talkies and Super Plaza there. In these once foundering but now thriving cinema halls, these men find a sense of home and belonging in a city now hostile to migrants, especially Muslims. Migrants founded many Bombay cinemas, and their families still operate them.

Seven hundred miles south of Mumbai in Calicut prosperous Gujarati traders, who settled there more than 140 years ago, do not watch films made in the local language of Malayalam. Instead they and their families have long preferred Hollywood and Bollywood blockbusters screened at the Crown Theater, another family-owned cinema, since the 1940s. Shot on location at theaters in Mumbai and Calicut and villages in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, Shifting Frames: Migration and the Movies in India probes how cinema halls preserve old identities and create new ones for very different migrant communities today.

Shifting Frames

 

Direction Vani Subramanian
Camera pooja sharma, adri thakur
sound amrita singh
Editing Vani Subramanian, deshraj
Producer mary woods
work in progress