In Focus: Ajay Gehlawat

Hutchins School of Liberal Studies

Ajay Gehlawat

What is your research focus? and, what is it about this particular research focus that inspires you?

My research focus is on Bollywood, one of the most prolific and widely disseminated film industries in the world and, simultaneously, one of the least known here in the US. What's particularly exciting (beyond the films themselves) is the growing body of scholarly work emerging on this cinema, which provides both crucially needed information for newcomers to the field, and examines the multifarious aspects of this cinematic form within a decidedly interdisciplinary context. Disciplines such as anthropology, film and theatre, gender studies, and sociology, along with emerging fields such as queer studies and transnational studies, are all brought into a productive dialogue with one another via this hybrid cinema, which is sometimes described as having an aesthetic of "masala," or spicy mixing.

How has the library helped you achieve your goals in this area?

Schulz Library has provided me with multiple opportunities to further develop my research into this cinema, through the substantial (and growing!) number of Bollywood films in the multimedia collection, as well as the increasing number of critical texts on this cinema available in the main stacks. Schulz also provides online access to many relevant journals in the field, such as South Asian Popular Culture and, via Link+ and the Interlibrary Loan (ILL) system, to an even larger body of emerging critical work. This is particularly exciting for me as I will be teaching a course on Bollywood this fall semester at SSU, in the Hutchins School of Liberal Studies. The growing body of resources that Schulz offers on this cinema will allow students to access a trove of materials and further advance their own research interests in a variety of ways. All of these resources have also directly contributed to my own scholarship including, most recently, the completion of my own book on this cinema, Reframing Bollywood, a copy of which should soon be available at Schulz!

On a personal note, I cherish the countless discussions I have had over the years with the knowledgeable and gregarious library staff, particularly about more obscure films and also about watching Bollywood which, as anyone who has had the opportunity to do so will attest, is definitely an experience!