Making movies: workers in the Bombay Film Industry

My initial research in 2002 was to discover the everyday activities and interactions of film workers as participants in the making of cultural artifacts. I wanted to know how work habits were woven into the structure of a film, arguing that the professional activities of even low level crew members were not simply to be seen as tasks to be executed, but were reflective, informed practices that might cast new light on how to make sense of Hindi film. I ended up focusing mostly upon costume producers, as a logical progression from my previous ethnography of an embroidery industry in Lucknow, India. This allowed me to include film personnel from a range of backgrounds (from costume/fashion designers to dresswalas (costume shops) to tailors), with a variety of different skills, both men and women, and critically maintaining economic and social relations with the changing commodity economy of Bombay. Over a seven year period, I have conducted well over 100 in-depth interviews with film personnel, alongside participant observation at film and television sets, workshops and retail stores. The research has resulted in five published articles with two more pending, and one other in preparation. In 2010 I did further research in the city with the help of a WSU Vancouver mini-grant award. My book on this research, Fashioning Bollywood: The Making and Meaning of Costumes in Hindi Film was published in 2014.

Associated personnel

Related publications

-- Wilkinson, Clare M 2022. Shifty outfits: Dressing Villains in Hindi Films. Wiley-Blackwell, 103-121.
-- Wilkinson, Clare M 2021. Power Dressing: the sari in Sujoy Ghosh's Kahaani. Film, Fashion and Consumption, 10,1, 251-263.
-- Viswamohan, Aysha Iqbal and Wilkinson, Clare M 2020. Stardom in Contemporary Hindi Cinema: Celebrity and Fame in Globalized TImes. Singapore: Springer.
-- Narayanan, Pavithra and Wilkinson, Clare M 2016. Urban Dreams: Sudhir Mishra’s Representations of Social and Political Change, In Behind the Scenes Contemporary Bollywood Directors and Their Cinema. Aysha Iqbal Vishwamohan and Vimal Mohan John. New Delhi: Sage India.
-- Wilkinson, Clare M 2016. The Real Professional: Designers and Discourse in Hindi Film Costume. Studies in Costume and Performance, 1,1, 19-40.
PDF Wilkinson-Weber, Clare M 2010. Diverting Denim: The Ecology of Jeans in Popular Hindi Film,. in Global Denim, Daniel Miller and Sophie Woodward, eds. Berg Publishers.
PDF Wilkinson-Weber, Clare M 2010. A need for redress: costume in some recent Hindi film remakes. Bioscope, 1(2).
LNK Wilkinson-Weber, Clare M 2009. Costume in the films of Bimal Roy. In : R. Bhattacharya (ed) The Man Who Spoke in Pictures: Bimal Roy. Penguin India.
PDF Wilkinson-Weber, Clare M 2006. The Dressman's Line: Transforming the Work of Costumers in Popular Hindi Film. Anthropological Quarterly, 79, 4.
PDF Wilkinson-Weber, Clare M 2005. Tailoring Expectations: How film costumes become the audience's clothes. South Asian Popular Culture: Special Issue on Bollywood Audiences, 3(2), 135-160.
-- Wilkinson-Weber, Clare M 2004. Behind the Seams: Designers and Tailors in Popular Hindi Cinema. Visual Anthropology Review, 20,2, 3-21.