Is everybody Kung Fu fighting? Indian popular cinema and martial arts films
journal contributionposted on 07.09.2020, 12:48 authored by Clelia CliniClelia Clini
Hong Kong’s martial arts film have been popular in India since the 1970s (Srinivas 2012: 66) and they have had a profound influence on the Hindi action films of the 1970s-1980s, as martial arts were progressively integrated into their narratives (Banerjea 2005; Vitali 2006). This article investigates the appeal of Hong Kong the martial arts films, and of the figure of Bruce Lee in particular, with specific reference to the social, cultural and political context of reception in India. The context within which Bruce Lee made his entrance on the Indian screens was in fact critical for his success. In particular, the article examines the appeal of martial arts, and their incorporation in the Hindi action films of the 1970s, in relation to (post)colonial discourses of Asian masculinity. Drawing upon Yvonne Tasker’s examination of the “anticolonial narrative” embedded in Hong Kong martial arts films (2012: 504), the analysis discusses the incorporation of a martial arts style of combat within Indian popular films as a response to colonial and orientalist tropes of Asian effeminacy and softness (Said, 1978) and argues that martial arts allowed the 1970s Hindi action hero to articulate an alternative, anticolonial, version of Asian masculinity.
- Loughborough University London