Heetesh and Dimpal Patel are on the Board of Visitors for UT’s Department of Religious Studies and have given a generous gift to the department to start a series of lectures on Hinduism, the first of which will be held in the McClung Museum Auditorium on Tuesday, March 28.
The lecture’s title, “Calling God on the Wrong Number: Religion in Hindi Cinema,” comes from the film “PK,” which is considered one of the top recent Hindi films.
Rachel Dwyer, a professor of Indian cultures and cinema at the University of London, will be speaking about how “PK” and “Bajrangi Bhaijaan,” another Hindi comedy, deal with and depict religious groups and practices.
The emergence of Hindi film in popular culture has, mainly, been due to the prevalence of Bollywood films.
“A lot of students already know about Bollywood,” Rosalind Hackett, professor and head of the Department of Religious Studies, said.
However, Rachelle Scott, associate professor and associate head of the Department of Religious Studies, stressed that there is a lot of diversity in Hindi film, not just Bollywood, even though they aren’t as widely known.
“There is no single location with the same status for the other languages,” Scott said.
Scott said she believes that the general interest in film in academia is a growing phenomenon and that she is happy to be a part of it.
“Film is a popular medium for both students and faculty,” Scott said. “The stories that used to be in print are now on film, and movies can address all themes and issues.”
Scott uses film as material in some of her classes, and the Department of Religious Studies, as a whole, is adding more film-based classes to the schedule in the fall 2017 semester.
“Downtown West Cinema shows Indian films, and you can find films in Indian grocery stores now,” Scott said. “The movies are more than just entertainment. They become a place for the diaspora community to re-immerse and reconnect.”
The lecture will begin on at 5:30 p.m. on March 28, and a Q&A session with Rachel Dwyer will take place afterwards.
This story has been modified from its original version, published on March 27, 2017. The original version stated that the lecture will take place in the Cox Auditorium of the Alumni Memorial Building. It has been changed to state that the lecture will be held in the McClung Museum Auditorium.