10 Recommended Books on Indian Movies for Cinephiles

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As they say (or should say, if they don’t), everything starts from the page. Almost every movie has its inception through a screenplay (or a book), and then it absorbs and develops new dimensions with time. Hence, it’s fascinating to read books on movies and the worlds they create and return where we started. Our article today looks at some of the best writings on Indian movies for cinephiles, capturing their various aspects.

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For the sake of concision, we’re limiting ourselves to recent books on Indian cinema. If you can’t find a title in our list, comment below and we’ll consider it for this article. Let’s begin!

Recommended Books on Indian Movies for Cinephiles

Indian Horror Cinema: (En)gendering the Monstrous

Title: Indian Horror Cinema: (En)gendering the Monstrous

Author: Mithuraaj Dhusiya

Publisher: Routledge India

Price: 5465

Pages: 314


Our first pick for the best books on Indian movies is a scholarly work examining the horror genre in cinema.


Despite its diversity, horror has been mostly disregarded in Indian cinema. Horror takes numerous forms in Indian cinema, ranging from fear of the unknown, supernatural components, and occult rituals to multiple indigenous supernatural beings. Mithuraaj’s book examines how feminine and male subjectivities are represented in horror films, as well as stereotypes based on caste, class, gender, and anthropocentrism. The results are fascinating.

There are resistance structures in vampirism, gendered narratives of animal transformations, masculinist undertones in animal transformation, and cultural anxieties in zombies and witches. Lying at the intersection of film studies, media, cultural studies, art, popular culture, literature, gender studies, and sociology, among other disciplines, it’s the perfect book for filmmakers and cinephiles. With an exhaustive filmography, it’s also a guide to exploring the best of Indian horror through the years.

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Fingerprinting Popular Culture: The Mythic and the Iconic in Indian Cinema

Title: Fingerprinting Popular Culture: The Mythic and the Iconic in Indian Cinema

Author: Vinay Lal and Ashis Nandy

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Price: 370

Pages: 226


Our next pick for the books on Indian movies you must read examines how the society impacts cinema in South Asia.


There’s no doubting the immense cultural significance that cinema holds in South Asia. But the reverse is simultaneously true, and that’s what this book primarily looks at. Lal and Nandy’s work is about the cultural and political dynamics molding Indian cinema, specifically in the context of middle-class sensibilities. Cinema often shapes collective identities while serving as a mirror to society by imbibing and portraying its changing sentiments and priorities.

Through a series of essays, the authors look at how myths, icons, and the South Asian urban culture intersect in popular Indian movies. Try this if you’re interested in learning more about Indian culture, Indian cinema, or the interesting relationships between art, myth, and society.

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Dancing with the Nation: Courtesans in Bombay Cinema

Title: Dancing with the Nation: Courtesans in Bombay Cinema

Author: Ruth Vanita

Publisher: Speaking Tiger Publishing Pvt Ltd

Price: 378

Pages: 272


The third book on Indian movies is about courtesans and their presence across Indian cinema.


Courtesans have had a prominent presence across Indian cinema and society at large. Ruth Vanita comprehensively analyses the histories, representations, repression, and re-emergence of courtesans. She looks at their matrilineal family structures and how the early feminists and artists were erased from Indian history. Using examples from Hindi films, the book analyses the significance of the Tawaifs.

It’s as much of a historical perspective as it is a challenge to existing narratives and problematic portrayals. Through courtesans in Bombay cinema, Vanita explores gender, power dynamics, and cultural representations.

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100 Years of Jump-Cuts and Fade-Outs: Tracking Change in Indian Cinema

Title: 100 Years of Jump-Cuts and Fade-Outs: Tracking Change in Indian Cinema

Author: Shoma A. Chatterji

Publisher: Rupa & Co

Price: 388

Pages: 352


Let’s journey through the history of cinema in our next pick for books on Indian movies for cinephiles.


With historical contexts, critical analyses, and anecdotes, Shoma creates a vivid picture of Indian cinema through the years. There are numerous themes present here. From literary adaptations to representation of marginalized communities, Chatterji’s analysis is as comprehensive as thrilling to read.

The book also talks about the portrayal of violence and political ideologies in cinema, the constant interplay between censorship and artistic freedom, and the rise of regional avant-garde cinema. While scholarly in scope, the book is accessible and perfect for anyone interested in learning about the evolution of Indian movies.

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Light of Asia: Indian Silent Cinema 1912-1934

Title: Light of Asia: Indian Silent Cinema 1912-1934

Author: Suresh Chabria

Publisher: Niyogi Books

Price: 695

Pages: 340


In this book on Indian movies for cinephiles, we travel to the era of silent cinema.


Published around the centenary of Indian cinema, the book pays homage to Dadasaheb Phalke’s 1913 Raja Harishchandra. It’s a detailed look at the early formative years of Indian movies, particularly the era of silent cinema. Through archival records and contributions from film historians, the book captures the essence of this period in Indian cinema history.

With essays, silent film stills, and historical photographs, the book shows the creative vision of early Indian filmmakers and the technological advancements of those years. It’s a beautiful tribute to the era of silent films with a romantic vision that movie-buffs will love.

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City Flicks – Indian Cinema and the Urban Experience

Title: City Flicks – Indian Cinema and the Urban Experience

Author: Preben Kaarsholm

Publisher: Seagull Books

Price: 450

Pages: 288


It’s no secret that Indian movies have largely centered on the urban experience through the years and this book captures that connection.


City Flicks explores the relationship between Indian cinema and urban experiences, looking at how cinema and modernity intersect with each other in an Indian context. The essays cover a variety of topics: urbanity, realism, fantasy, film language, female spectatorship, the cultural impacts of Bollywood, and more.

The essays in this collection are by major figures in the film and cultural studies space. They also capture the almost adjacent growth of Indian film production with the rapid expansion of Indian cities. If you’re interested in cinematic representations of metropolitan Indian life and how Indian movies have impacted global audiences, pick up this collection!

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India’s New Independent Cinema: Rise of the Hybrid

Title: India’s New Independent Cinema: Rise of the Hybrid

Author: Ashvin Immanuel Devasundaram

Publisher: Routledge

Price: 5189

Pages: 292


Indian movies are not all Bollywood, but we often equate the two. This book dispels that myth and shows how there’s another emerging world of cinema.


We often equate Indian cinema with Bollywood. But behind the glam and show, there’s an emerging independent Indian film movement reshaping the cinema of the nation. Devasundaram’s book focuses on this sector that works as a middle ground between the mainstream and the art-house parallel cinema. Analyzing these independent films (like Peepli Live, Dhobi Ghat, The Lunchbox, and Ship of Theseus), the book highlights the balance of global aesthetics and local sensibilities in these works.

But the book isn’t limited to the artistic aspects of these movies as it tries to understand the practical aspects too. From funding and distribution to exhibition, how do these movies operate? Ashvin uses interviews with directors, actors, academics, and members of the censor board to understand the evolution and impact of these films. The book is an important piece to understanding modern Indian cinema and the mechanics of independent filmmaking in a corporate space.

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Wide Angle: History of Indian Cinema

Title: Wide Angle: History of Indian Cinema

Author: Manoj Srivastava

Publisher: Notion Press

Price: 252

Pages: 130


How have Indian movies evolved over the decades? Let’s see.


This book looks at the major milestones and the important aspects of the Indian film industry. It explains some of the unusual things about Indian cinema, like why characters break into a song out of nowhere, or why the language of cinema is distinct from the language of our everyday lives. There’s much to explore here, with chapters on different regional cinemas.

It analyses the differences and unique features of Indian cinema compared to other nations and how their influence spreads from the local to the global. The book can be a great starter on Indian cinema for curious movie lovers.

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Beyond Bollywood: The Cinemas of South India

Title: Beyond Bollywood: The Cinemas of South India

Author: M.K. Raghavendra

Publisher: Harper Collins

Price: 378.16

Pages: 352


Indian movies go beyond Bollywood, and this book attempts to cover one of the most thriving regional film industries in India.


Not only does Indian cinema not just mean Bollywood, but the regional cinematic spaces are thriving locally and globally. Raghavendra’s book looks at the diverse and rich cinematic traditions of South Indian film industries. It also places these movies in the larger context of an “Indian film landscape” while looking at them individually.

Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada cinemas have their unique nuances and histories, and this book tries to capture all of that in one place. Using different approaches, Raghavendra’s comprehensive text helps you understand the different aspects of South Indian cinema better.

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Bengali Cinema: An Other Nation

Title: Bengali Cinema: An Other Nation

Author: Sharmistha Gooptu

Publisher: Routledge

Price: 3635

Pages: 248


Bengali cinema typically differs from the usual Indian movies, and that’s what this book explores.


Sharmistha’s book covers Bangla cinema from the early 20th century to the 1980s from a historical perspective. With detailed analysis, you see the definitive genres and trends of Bengali cinema and how they’ve evolved through the years.

It distinguishes Bengali cinema from the overarching Indian or national cinema, highlighting it as a distinct entity. The first comprehensive study of Bengali cinema, the book captures the essence of a vibrant cinematic tradition. It’s a must-read for anyone interested in the history of Bengali cinema and culture.

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Amritesh Mukherjee

Amritesh Mukherjee

Amritesh doesn't know what to do with his life, so he writes. He also doesn't know what to write, so he reads. Gift him a book if you chance upon him and he'll love you forever.

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