The author has classified these feature films into four main categories: mythological films, devotional films, Islamic films and the films propagating religious and secular ideals. She has then discussed the characteristic features of each of these categories of cinema under different chapters of the book.
According to Dwyer, the Hindu religion in India has always had a strong relationship with the various forms of the artistic expressions. Much before the medium of films came into existence, the traditional forms of the Indian media such as “drama, poetry, music, dance, painting etc.” have been found to be replete with depiction of Hindu religious practices. This proves that, right from the ancient times, Indian religion has had a significant influence on the different forms of the country’s art. The medium of cinema was no exception to this rule, and the all-encompassing impact of India’s religious culture paved the way for the regular portrayal of the religious practices on the large screen. That is why, Dwyer has considered it important to study the mutual relationship between the Indian religion and the medium of films. In her work she has evaluated the methods in which the medium of cinema has influenced the religious practices in India. She has also tried to determine whether Indian films have portrayed the religious rituals in their true form or have modified them while exhibiting these practices to a larger audience. (Dwyer, 2) Dwyer’s book makes significant contributions in other spheres as well. The author has studied the importance of Indian cinema in constructing various national identities related to films. Dwyer has outlined how the cinematic medium has helped to form India’s political identity, its nationalistic zeal, the religious identity and also facilitated the creation of the different religious communities. In his book, the author has further argued that Indian films have not restricted themselves by depicting only the religious rituals, the religious communities and their philosophies. Instead, Indian cinema portrays an Indian society whose customs and practices are grounded in the basic religious ideals of the country. This modern Indian society transcends the political boundaries and religious divides to register its presence amidst the larger global audience (Dwyer, 2). In 2008, Dwight Friesen (University of Edinburgh) had published a review of Rachel Dwyer’s book in The Expository Times. Friesen has identified Dwyer’s book as an unprecedented effort mainly directed towards evaluating the significance of Indian religion in their cinema. The first chapter of the book traces the origins and development of mythological films in India, while the second chapter describes the same aspects of the feature films belonging to the devotional genre. In the third chapter, the author has described how Indian films have depicted the Islamic religion, culture and their ways of life in the relevant “Islamicate films”. The fourth chapter has enumerated how Hinduism has significantly influenced the framework and the basic themes of the Indian social cinema. (Friesen, 206) Friesen declares that Dwyer’s book bears testimony to her investigations and research about the subject matter of her work. Friesen has appreciated Dwyer’s knowledge about the evolution of the Indian motion picture industry which is reflected abundantly in the book. As such, Friesen points out that the book has minimal flaws. However, the reviewer rightly identifies that Dwyer has concentrated more on the depiction of religion in Hindi films ( produced in the Bombay film industry) rather than the