Media Review: Bollywood Religious Comedy: An Inaugural Humor-neutics

  • Author(s): Sheila J. Nayar
  • When: 2015-07
  • Where: Journal of the American Academy of Religion
  • This media review explores the nascent genre of religious comedy in mainstream Indian film (also known as Bollywood). Focusing on two recent hits, OMG! (2012) and PK (2014), the review investigates what conventions or unspoken rules license laughter “at” religion in successful iterations of the genre, as well as how such films navigate India's cultural landscape, which is sensorily alive with multiple religions. Some of the more idiosyncratically Indian (which is to say, not merely Hindu) properties of the genre that are addressed include the subcontinental notion of secularism; the parallel texts produced by the actors' own religions; and the saliency, ironically enough, of television to the films—of a portrayed tele-belonging. In this way, the review offers pedagogical guidance for those who may wish to teach a religious comedy from the Bollywood corpus.

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