Chapters (Layout Features)

Energy and Exhaustion in a Coal Melodrama: Kaala Patthar (1979)

Mukherjee, Debashree

Melodrama serves as an important mode to interrogate assumptions about the temporal, spatial, and ontic features of carbon modernity. This chapter analyses the 1979 Hindi coal melodrama, Kaala Patthar (Black Rock), to present a situated history of mediatized sentimental coal imaginaries and their role in the extractivist developmental logics of a postcolony. The film opens up the history of coal and cinema as a history of not just energy, but also exhaustion, offering glimpses into the simultaneous co-depletion of minerals and humans. Drawing on recent work in energy humanities and ecocriticism, and moving across histories of public advertising, film form, and production, the chapter reframes theories of slow violence and geologic life to argue for a relational and non-binary study of extractivism and cinema’s relation to carbon modernity.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies
Published Here
April 3, 2024