Essays on Media, Culture, Cinema
This collection of Sashi Kumar’s contributions to various journals and magazines for over three decades – from the late 1970s to the present – is informed by his exposure to, quest and passion for, practice in, and contemplation on the media as a broad category of culture and the ecology, and including film, print, television, radio and the net. It is informed too by the author’s brief engagement, in between, with advertising across different media, and an entrepreneurial phase of establishing and running a satellite and cable television enterprise at the cusp of the transition from the analogue to the digital.
This is broadly a reflective collection of essays on the media, mediated culture and film/cinema that is Indian and international in its scope. It is not, or about, daily retail journalism. It provides perspective to the agency of the media; aspects of freedom of expression and creativity; coercive and persuasive forces at work in the media and in culture; film genres and the oeuvre of distinctive filmmakers; the art, craft and aura of cinema; the emerging media ecology; cognitive shifts triggered by technology; the push and pull of convergence and digitization; the rampantly unequal media order and the rise of digital capitalism; and the new mutuality of the writerly, readerly, aural and oral.
“Sashi Kumar’s reflections on the media as a broad category of culture are founded on his unrivalled experience and authority in the field…. This wide-ranging collection of the author’s shorter writings… spans the period from 1979 to 2014 and covers some of the most urgent issues facing the mass media, which constitute an essential and always contested element of the democratic public space. The reader can start or stop at any point as themes are developed and modulated, give way to others, and are then picked up again, with something new added each time, from the political and legal through to the aesthetic, sometimes via high but accessible cultural and political theory…. There is of course far more to the media than news and commercial cinema, and the author’s reflections on the contemporary visual arts illuminate and celebrate the complexity and difficulty of the arts.”
Arvind Sivaramakrishnan, The Hindu