Bollywood Superstars Indian Cinema
Bollywood Superstars: A Short Story of Indian Cinema
   Reading 2 min

Collaborating with the Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac and France Museums, Louvre Abu Dhabi is hosting Bollywood Superstars: A Short Story of Indian Cinema. Julien Rousseau (Head of the Asian Collection at the Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac), and Hélène Kessous (an anthropologist and specialist of South Asian cinema) are the exhibition’s curators. It will be open to the public until June 4, 2023.

The show delves into the Indian cinema’s history from its origins and dawn to the impressive global industry it is nowadays: India releases 1,500+ movies per year in about 20 languages. Shedding light on this country’s image-making traditions, Bollywood Superstars tells about the influence storytelling, dance, and theatre have had on Indian cinema and its close connection with religion and mythology. The latter played a crucial role in early Indian cinema and still continues to inspire filmmakers.

Bollywood Superstars: A Short Story of Indian Cinema (installation view). Louvre Abu Dhabi, 2023.

The show features extracts from 40+ movies and more than 80 art pieces. There are a full range of early examples of storytelling on display: 19th century Hindu temple lamps, shadow puppets, paintings of deities including Krishna and Shiva; mythological and religious lithographs which include the artworks of Raja Ravi Varma, one of the greatest Indian painters. The exhibition also showcases costumes, 20th century painted storyteller panels and fabrics that depict scenes from the Ramayana, an epic from ancient India, and photos of Indian dancers. Besides, visitors can have a look at Mughal armour, daggers, vessels, architectural panels, and other similar artefacts.

A collection of daggers, 3 daggers to the (left): Ceremonial daggers 19th, Abu Dhabi, Louvre Abu Dhabi (Right) Dagger from Late 11th century–late 17th century, Kuwait, al-Sabah Collection. Image courtesy: Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi. Photo: Ismail Noor/Seeing Things

In the show’s sections devoted to early Indian blockbusters and contemporary Indian cinema, one learns about the country’s classical filmmakers (such as Satyajit Ray) and their work and about renowned Indian actors through movie posters, film stills, and clips. The Bollywood celebrities Bachchan, Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai, and others are represented by large illuminated cut-outs. The exhibition also explains fan culture in India. It includes a screening of the documentary For the Love of a Man (2015) shot by Rinku Kalsy, an Indian/Dutch film director. It tells about four of the most extreme fans of Rajinikanth, an Indian actor, producer, and screenwriter. Visitors can also have fun with an interactive exhibit such as a green screen which lets them place themselves in a Bollywood movie.

“Indian cinema can be approached from countless perspectives,” Emmanuel Kasarhérou, President of the Musée the Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, said. “Bollywood Superstars reveals a variety of narrative and stylistic repertoires that mirror the diversity of the country’s histories, local identities, and languages.”

To get more information about the exhibition, please visit its official web page.

You might also be interested in visiting the Notations on Time exhibition.