By Sayandeb Chowdhury

Popular cinema in India is being harnessed to drive home a majoritarian imagination. Photo: Dey Alexander/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 DEED

Like several instances in the last century, the political leashing of cinema is a concern again in India.

“I filmed the truth as it was then. Nothing more.”

This assertion by 1930s German film director Leni Reifenstahl, best known for her documentary films supporting Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist Party, would likely find favour with a section of Indian filmmakers today with releases lined up before the Indian general elections.

The ‘truth’ is a slippery thing, with cinema being pushed to be part of a new media ecology much of which thrives on post-truth.

This is one of the revelations in this season of national elections in India, which is gigantic in scale and the Indian state’s most formidable exercise. This particular election is prone to more than a share of anxiety that India, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is showing tell-tale signs of majoritarian tyranny, and a wanton disregard for participatory democratic ethos.

Mr Modi and his right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party are expected to return to power for the third time in a row, riding on an alarming centralisation of power, and an increasingly institutionalised practice of bare-knuckle majoritarianism that goes by the name of ‘Hindutva’. Popular cinema is seen to have become a bedfellow to this aspiration.

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