ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Cinema of Discomfort: Audience-Making at the Multiplex


Chatterjee Tupur - University College Dublin, Department of English, Drama, and Film, Dublin, Ireland


49 – Public Knowledge: Audiences in South Asian Media and Screen Studies


 Focusing on the Indian multiplex’s new gendered and classed spectatorial imaginations, this paper looks at the emergence of a new genre in popular cinema: the multiplex film, and traces its relationship to the built environment of the mall-multiplex. A significant number of these films have chosen to narrativize the dark and unintended consequences of globalization as the key trope, leading to a surge in location-centric realism on screen. Crucially, the multiplex spectator and her exhibition environment are both intrinsically foreseen at the site of production. In other words, the multiplex film can read neoliberal desires for safe anxiety tourism. In a secure environment, surrounded by cohorts of their own socio-economic class, marveling at the sparkling interiors and atmospheric sound, the neoliberal spectator can journey through the uneasiness of those spatial experiences that are carefully and continuously scrubbed from the mall. The multiplex engenders a psychic space where a film can address the complex and uncanny sides of the nation’s contemporary condition and simultaneously negate the need to make this experience public when it can so easily be appropriated in private. It makes the disquieting landscapes of these films palatable. By placing a few recent multiplex films within the architectonics of their exhibition space, I argue that the multiplex is writing a new history of relations between cinema, space, and spectator in the subcontinent.