Beginning in the early 1920s, the Hindutva (“Hinduness”) movement has dominated conversations about religious identity and national religion in India. Born out of the regional nationalist movement in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, Hindutva has always coexisted regionally and across India with another, equally powerful cultural force—the Hindi film industry. The two have maintained an uneasy truce with one another in the years since Indian independence and the partition of the subcontinent. Each also engage in the work of “imagining” the nation—that is, creating the nation of India in the images they desire to be the dominant idea of what it means to be a “true” Indian. This thesis examines the historical narratives surrounding the imagined nation in both Hindutva and Hindi cinematic contexts, and embeds both of them in both a regional context and a larger, pan-Indian one. By focusing on three issues in Indian life that are important to both the Hindutva movement and Hindi cinema—native/foreign identities, urbanization, and the family—this essay teases out the ways in which Hindutva and Hindi film inform each other in the work of creating the nation and, depending on the historical moment, either run parallel or completely apart of one another’s ideas.


Crothers, Lisa

Second Advisor

Parker, Jeff


History; Religious Studies


Asian History | Cultural History | Ethnic Studies | History of Religions of Eastern Origins | Islamic World and Near East History | Other Film and Media Studies | Other Religion | Political History | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Social History | South and Southeast Asian Languages and Societies


India, South Asia, Hinduism, Hindu nationalism, Hindutva, Bollywood, Indian cinema, Hindi cinema

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2014 Rachel A. Rothenberg