Cinema, Cinema and Media Studies, Faculty Advisor: Priya Jaikumar
Darshana’s project looks at Indian cinema’s relationship to sexuality, import policy and censorship by tracking the emergence of the South Indian state of Kerala as a hub of soft-core pornography. Made on shoestring budgets, these films mobilized the autonomous female figure as a key node to challenge the mainstream film industry’s top-down operations, also unsettling the limits of social permissibility. Her research on gender and sexual publics have been published in Feminist Media Histories, Music Sound and Moving Image, South Asian Popular Culture, Porn Studies and Bioscope: South Asian Screen Studies. The work culminated in a 2017 student writing prize awarded by the Society for Cinema and Media Studies. She received a Mellon International Dissertation Research Fellowship and Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship from the Social Science Research Council and a Research Enhancement Fellowship from the Graduate School, among other funding. In the fall, she joins the Department of Communication Arts at University of Wisconsin-Madison as an Assistant Professor of Global Cinema and Media.