The Department of Film Studies at Jadavpur University, established in 1993, was the first of its kind in India. In a way this is a fair reflection of the strong film culture in this city, embracing not only filmmaking but also discussion of and writing on the subject of cinema for several decades. The late Satyajit Ray had proposed the study of cinema as an academic subject when, in 1980, he visited the University to accept an honorary D.Litt. Jadavpur University has an enormous support base for an emerging discipline like Film Studies; it has a considerable fund of expertise in the three faculties of Arts, Science and Engineering, and a very good infrastructural base. The strong cultural and intellectual tradition of Calcutta has also been of considerable importance in providing the right kind of atmosphere for the study of a frontier discipline.
Right at the outset, it was decided that an indigenous notion of Film Studies must be developed in order to relate to our specific historical context. Along with MA and BA (Extra-Departmental) courses a PhD programme has been initiated. The Department has already become a meeting ground for the best film scholars in the country. With a special arrangement for visiting faculty, it has been possible to maintain a steady stream of distinguished visitors, from both home and abroad.
The new curriculum, introduced in 2003, incorporates the recent developments in the field and reflects the experience that we have gained in the past years. The primary aim is to produce the critical mind that enables the student to engage film and media actively in life, rather than to be passive recipients of messages. The courses are meant to produce critics and scholars, planners and advisers, teachers and journalists. Film, television and the emergent new media forms have created a second environment of sorts for us where one unaware of their cultural, artistic and political dimensions is likely to lead an impoverished existence. The curriculum is designed to familiarize students with both the rudiments of film form and the most advanced theories of film practice. It is historically inclusive and theoretically intensive in nature.
Though cinema constitutes a broad space in the curriculum, there are also courses on Media Studies and Communication Studies. Contemporary theoretical and historical research in media forms such as newspaper, radio and television and internet will be discussed with due importance in these courses. At the same time, the students will be encouraged through projects and fieldwork to develop their own critical perspectives on recent developments in media practices. Since Film Studies and Media Studies share a lot of common grounds with disciplines like Cultural Studies, and draw upon contemporary social sciences, we have courses that deal with issues like nationalism, postcoloniality, modernity, postmodernity and globalization. The Indian context is studied with special emphasis in most of the papers, often in connection with other non-western cases such as Japan, the Latin American countries, China and Iran.
From getting to know the aesthetic aspects of film and being familiar with the current intellectual debates on culture and society, to acquiring skills of writing creatively on culture and media and gaining hands-on experience in audiovisual production, the student will have an exciting journey of discovery to embark.
The Department has a Ph.D programme under which the researchers can be either self-funded or funded by any legitimate agency. The teachers of the Department have undertaken research in various areas in their individual capacity. Key areas of research by teachers are Indian cinema, Indian Television, European cinema, Asian Cinema, and the Cinema of Satyajit Ray.
PhD researches completed:
1. Censorship and Cinema
2. Cinema and Stage: Interaction in the Major Plays of Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams
3. Moments of Modernity: Cinema and Social Response in Bengal between Two World Wars
Ongoing PhD researches:
1. The Non-fiction film in the Context of War of Independence in Bangladesh: Problems of Realist Representation
2. Realism as an Authorial Stance in a Third World Cinema: The Instance of Satyajit Ray
3. The Rhetoric of ‘Kitsch’: Bengali Popular Cinema (1980-2000) in Search of Political Identity
4. The Citizen in Bangla Cinema, 1950-1990
5. Imagination of Science and Technology in Indian Popular Cinema, 1947-1970
6. Othering Space, Forging Selves: Contemporary Cinema, Globalisation and the New Indian Middle Class
7. Reframing Representation in Non-Western Film Culture: Old Canvases, New Perspectives in Asian Cinema