Accepted Paper:

Workers Leaving the Cinema: Rhythms of work and cinematic-time in Old Delhi  
Rosemary Grennan (University College London)

Paper short abstract:

This article will look at the relationship between work and cinema spectatorship through examining the exhibition of Bhojpuri films in Old Delhi. It will argue that the increasingly erratic rhythms of precarious labour experienced by workers in the area is mirrored in the space of the cinema.

Paper long abstract:

Screenings at the Moti cinema in Old Delhi are a disruptive affair, the cheap front seats are full of daily wage-labourers from the neighbouring market there to watch the latest Bhojpuri film release. As the film progresses the people wander in and out of the exits, called to work to make a delivery and later returning to catch the rest of the film. Indian cinema has been often characterised as a 'cinema of interruptions' in which song-and-dance sequences, censorship, other factors create a distinct visual and narrative time-space, however the role of work in this has had little attention.

The name of this paper is a reference to the first film ever shot 'Workers Leaving the Factory'. The purpose of this film above all meant to show the possibility of rendering movement in images, however the compulsion for the movement in the film is the end of work not the velocity of the image form. The act of leaving formed the first articulation of cinematic-motion; the same is now true in the cinemas of Old Delhi. It is rhythms of increasing precarious labour in the area that propels workers away from the cinema, transforming the experience of film into partial units of expression defined by work rather than linear narrative coherence. Using ethnographic fieldwork to probe these practices around work and cinematic spectatorship, this paper will outline how cinema in this context becomes destabilized as a coherent product becoming instead a measurement of duration for work-time, waiting and distraction.

Panel P22
Rhythm, sight and sound: work in times of uncertainty
  Session 1