Shadow Craft: Visual Aesthetics of Black and White Hindi Cinema

The years between Indian independence (1947) and the dominance of colour cinema (early 1960s) saw the emergence and fruition of a distinct, confident, and nuanced black and white aesthetic in Hindi mainstream cinema. Shadow Craft is an ardent and immersive study of cinematic craftings that emblematise the oeuvres of Kamal Amrohi, Raj Kapoor, Nutan, Bimal Roy, Guru Dutt, and Abrar Alvi. Films such as Aag (1948), Mahal (1949), Seema (1955), Pyaasa (1957), Sujata (1959), Kagaz Ke Phool (1959), Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962), Bandini (1963) remain formative to the visual psyche of generations of South Asian viewers. This enduring visual language demonstrates a minutely attuned and sympathetic camera, evocative pools of shadow, affect-rich atmospheric composition, and the visual autonomy of performance.

With seventy five rare and curated images from the archives, Shadow Craft offers for the first time a consolidated and intimate journey through this pioneering black and white cinema aesthetic at its most expressive and climactic moment.

Reviews and Excerpts

Shadow Craft turns out to be more than a worthy idea: this is an invigorating cinema book that is serious and detailed without being dense or inaccessible.” — Jai Arjun Singh in Biblio: A Review of Books, posted on the blog Jabberwock

Shadow Craft pulls us back into the frame of the films and makes us ponder over the affective surface it lays before our eyes, and coaxes us to see them with fresh eyes, as they might have been received in those hopefully immediate years of independence.” — Mohamed Shafeeq Karinkurayil in Asian Movie Pulse.

“[Shadow Craft] offers an attentive and scrupulous exploration of the ‘cinematic frame’ […and] asserts the visual language assembled by these aesthetic forms of black and white cinema, which the spoken can often not reach.” — Sujith Kumar Parayil in The Book Review –

Excerpt in Mint Lounge –

Excerpt from the opening pages (The Establishing Shot) in Asian Review of Books –