Sci-fi meets Bollywood at the next KPU Science World talk

Tue, Jan 7, 2020

It’s the largest film industry in the world, producing over 1200 movies a year. Yet, the Indian movie industry doesn’t have significant representation in the world of science fiction. Kwantlen Polytechnic University English instructor, Dr. Asma Sayed, will be discussing this and the overall culture of Bollywood (Hindi language cinema) films at the next KPU Science World Speaker Series event.

“Talks such as this are a good opportunity for those who may not be much exposed to India’s film industry to capture a few glimpses, but also to think about how cultural texts impact our society,” says Sayed.

Sayed’s research focuses on South Asian literary and cultural studies. Her work intersects with postcolonial, feminist and critical race theories. She brings these elements of her research to this talk.

“Science fiction film has not been a very popular genre in India, but it is becoming more appealing; however, this genre also follows the tropes of mainstream Bollywood films which tend to take much of their inspiration from mythology and classical Indian literature. It thus leads to an interesting mix of the traditional and the modern.”

To appeal to the masses, Indian cinema continues to use classic staples and themes that the industry is known for but with modern twists.

“For instance, in science fiction films, we see robots dancing to popular songs, or aliens challenging the existence of gods.”

Sayed will use Bollywood sci-fi examples such as Ra One and PK. She says while some films push boundaries and shed light on social justice issues, the movies still have existing stereotypes.

“For instance, popular culture can perpetuate misogyny, toxic masculinity, and rape culture. Thus, it is important for us to have a critical eye when consuming these products generated for masses.”

Sayed hopes to introduce people who may not be familiar with Bollywood to a little glimpse into the industry.

Between Science and Mythology: The World of Bollywood Science Fiction Film takes place on Monday, January 20 at 7 p.m. Learn more here and register for the free event. Seats are limited.