Managing Theatre and Cinema in Colonial India: Maurice E. Bandmann, J.F. Madan and the War Films’ Controversy

Christopher Balme



The aim of this article is to investigate the highly unusual situation of direct state involvement in theatrical business activity in a colonial context and in particular the managerial activity involved. The central case study concerns the rivalry between two theatre and cinema managers active in India in the first decades of the 20th century, Maurice E. Bandmann and J. F. Madan and their remarkably parallel activities. In 1915 both were involved in a bidding war for a lucrative contract to distribute British government war films in India and the Far East. Both controlled theatrical and cinematic networks which the British government needed to access. The first part of the article discusses the importance of the new managerial and/or entrepreneurial function in theatre and cinema and proposes that one can speak of a ‘managerial turn’ in the period in question. The second part looks briefly at the two protagonists, Bandmann and Madan and then, how the narrative of the war films’ controversy played out in India and other countries. Christopher Balme holds the chair in theatre studies at LMU Munich

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