Due: Send your essay to me via email before class on Thursday, 11/3 (aid24@cornell.edu) *Revised: The essay is due by Saturday, 11/5.


How do Hindi films and film songs participate in constructing ideas of “the nation”? What forms of inclusion and exclusion, normalcy and deviance, are visually and musically narrated? Choosing one film, analyze the work of its songs in creating a narrative about the nation and nationalism. Drawing on the analytical themes and readings we have been discussing in class, consider how the film’s “song-track” supports, amplifies, and perhaps complicates the social and ideological themes of the movie. Your essay should be roughly 7 pages long and should incorporate the insights of at least two of our assigned readings (see Guidelines below).



  • Your movie should either be a movie we have discussed in class or from the list below. You may propose a different movie to me, as long as it is not Lagaan or Roja.
  • You do not have to discuss every song in the movie, or accord every song the same amount of analytical space. You may hone in on a single song, or two. However, you should think about the work of the songs as a whole.
  • You should describe the sounds of a song with as much precision and musically accurate terminology as possible, building on our class discussions.
  • You should meaningfully incorporate the insights of at least two of our assigned readings in the course of your analysis.
  • Your essay must be formatted according to the standards listed in the syllabus. (I reserve the right to return your essay unread if these standards are not met).


  • Separate the visuals and music of the songs in order to engage more carefully with each.
  • Consider lyrics.
  • Think carefully about the evidence you use – how do your descriptions bolster your argument and orient the reader?
  • You must cite any outside research, even if it is just Wikipedia or a popular website. It might be helpful to return to the Beaster-Jones and Ganti books.
  • Come speak with me if you feel in any way daunted by any aspect of this assignment.



In your first essay, you analyzed one (sometimes two) discrete songs. Here, I want you to think about the totality of a film’s song-track. While songs do, as we know, circulate as single and autonomous units, they are part of a broader musical and narrative whole in the space of a film. This is your chance to think about this musical whole and the kind of affective trajectory that is created through it. This is also a chance to go back to movies we have already watched and apply the lens of “nation and nationalism” to them, drawing out what was perhaps invisible to us earlier.


Movie Options

Mother India (1957)

Pyaasa (1957)

Amar Akbar Anthony (1977)

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995)

Bunty aur Babli (2005)

Dil Se (1998)

Madhumati (1955)

Swades (2004)

Rang de Basanti (2006)

Mughal-e-Azam (1960)







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