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Angry Young Man: Anger in Indian Popular Cinema ca. 1970-1990

The "angry young man" conquered Indian cinema screens in the 1970s. The angry underdog hero, who fought in the action-packed films against a criminal and corrupt establishment, is still remembered today as the most prominent cinematic icon of the 1970s and 1980s. This dissertation project explores the change in the concept anger in Indian popular discourse by means of Hindi and Telugu films.

The 1970s were a period of political, social, and economic crisis in India. Increasing unemployment, poverty and political violence created an atmosphere of discontent and resentment, which underpinned ideological realignments and political fragmentation. Against this background "angry young man" films offer valuable insights in the study of emotional changes and revisions, of knowledge about them, of the norms applied to them and of the audiovisual conventions in expressing them. The project seeks to answer the following questions: What different emotional styles of anger can be found in Indian "angry young man" films, and what audiovisual codes characterize and distinguish them? Why and how is young, male anger popularized and made iconic? How is anger integrated into the national ideology of this patriotic film genre? How and why does the emotional style of anger become an identity building category?

The project is based on the working hypothesis that a popularization and politicization of anger took place in Indian popular films in the 1970s and 1980s. It aims to further explain how the meanings, narratives and symbols arising in this dynamic were changed or erased and how they shape popular Indian films today. The research contributes to the history of emotions in post-colonial India and at the same time sheds light on the role of audiovisual entertainment media for the history of emotions in the twentieth century.

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