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Ajay Gehlawat

Ajay Gehlawat
Ajay Gehlawat

Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, Theatre & Film


Carson 33

Selected Course Offerings

Bollywood and Globalization (LIBS 209)
Minorities in American Cinema (LIBS 204)
Contemporary Hindi Cinema (LIBS 320C)
Migrants and Contemporary European Cinema (LIBS 320D)
Stardom and Cinema (LIBS 320C)


Ph.D., Theatre and Film, City University of New York Graduate Center, 2007

M.A., Cinema Studies, New York University, 2000

B.A., English, UC Berkeley, 1998

Academic Interests

My research and teaching interests range from international cinema and film theory to transnational forms of popular culture and cultural identity. My primary areas of expertise include non-Western cinemas, particularly popular Hindi cinema, aka Bollywood; film and postcolonial theory; South Asian diasporic studies; and critical cultural studies. I am also interested in representations of race and ethnicity in American cinema; multiculturalism in European cinemas; and, more broadly, in the global circulation of popular cinemas and cultures. In addition to teaching in the Hutchins School of Liberal Studies, I serve as Founding Director of the MA program in Film Studies at Sonoma State (

Selected Publications & Presentations

"Disco Nazia: disarticulating female playback and the heroine in early '80s Hindi cinema." South Asian History and Culture (2023)

“Female Bonds in Bollywood.” International Journal of James Bond Studies, 5:1 (2022)

"Hungama ho gaya? (An uproar has happened?): the erotic threat of female intoxication in Hindi film songs." Feminist Media Studies (2021)

“Plus-Size Femininity: The Multiple Figurations of Bhumi Pednekar,” In Bollywood’s New Woman: Liberalization, Liberation and Contested Bodies, Ed. Anwer and Arora (Rutgers UP, 2021)

“Bollywood studies at 2020.” Studies in South Asian Film & Media, 12:1 (2021)

“From Indianization to Globalization: Tracking Bond in Bollywood,” in The Cultural Life of James Bond: Specters of 007, Ed. Verheul (Amsterdam UP, 2020)

"Having It Both Ways: The Janus-Like Career of Kareena Kapoor," in Stardom in Contemporary Hindi Cinema, Ed. Viswamohan and Wilkinson (Springer, 2020)

The Evolution of Song and Dance in Hindi Cinema. Co-edited with Rajinder Dudrah (Routledge, 2019)

"Hindutva politics and South Asian cinema - media in the age of Modi." Studies in South Asian Film & Media, 9:2 (2019)

"Triumph of the Rajput: Sanjay Leela Bhansali and the fascist aesthetics of Padmaavat." Studies in South Asian Film & Media, 9:2 (2019)

"The Metatext of Bajirao Mastani: Intolerance in the Time of Modi." South Asian History and Culture, 8:3 (2017)

Main Hoon Farah: The Choreographer as Auteur,” in Behind the Scenes: Contemporary Bollywood Directors and their Cinema, Ed. Viswamohan and John (Sage, 2017)

"From Vamp to Queen: The Remixed Sound of the Bollywood Scene," in Music in Contemporary Indian Film: Memory, Voice, Identity, Ed. Beaster-Jones and Sarrazin (Routledge, 2016) 

Twenty-First Century Bollywood (Routledge, 2015) Bollywood/Gehlawat/p/book/9781138654273

The Slumdog Phenomenon: A Critical Anthology (Anthem, 2013)

"Why Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle: The Representation of Otherness in Mainstream Teen Cinema," in Lost in Media: The Ethics of Everyday Life, Ed. Frymer and Kashani (Peter Lang, 2013)

"Goris in the Story: On the Shifting Dynamics of Whiteness in Bollywood." Center for South Asia Studies, UC Berkeley, CSAS Public Lecture Series (2012)

"The Strange Case of The Princess and the Frog: Passing and the Elision of Race." Journal of African American Studies, 14:4 (2010)

Reframing Bollywood: Theories of Popular Hindi Cinema (Sage, 2010)