Navigation | The difference between a parody and ceniphillic film. Posted by: Abie Troen

The difference between a parody and ceniphillic film. Posted by: Abie Troen

Posted by:  Abie Troen

Both of Farah Khan’s films “Om Shanti Om” and “Main hoon na” can be viewed as ceniphillic pieces.  This means that in both works the director is self consciously making reference to conventions of cinema; these conventions are ones audiences immediately recognize and enjoy.  In this way they become an integral part of the “visual pleasure” the film provides and a central part of the film’s aesthetic form and content.

But while “Om Shanti Om” primarily makes reference to Bollywood, popular Hindi cinema, “Main Hoon Na” does so in respect to many contemporary Hollywood, or mainstream American films.  One can find numerous examples for this including the direct reference to the “Matrix”’s aesthetic in the film’s action scenes.

The following link is an example for this, where during an action scene chasing sequence the Matrix frozen-slow-motion aesthetic is combined with the theme of “Mission Impossible” – two blockbuster American films:



But Farah Khan does not only make reference to Hollywood action conventions.  Much of the film’s college scenes are also directly related to the way American colleges are portrayed in American cinema.  The entire form and content are directly appropriated, using clichés to create the characters’ looks and values.

The following link is from the scene in which we first encounter the college ensemble, which is comprised the easily identifiable elements taken from American cinema including the attractive female cheerleaders and the “bad boy” motor-cycle-riding hunk:


In light of the Farah Khan’s references to American College films, and the class discussion which termed these references “cinephillia” – I began asking myself – what is the difference between being ceniphillic and making a parody?  On the surface of things, it is hard to differentiate the two.  Contemporary American cinema is full of parodies which use many elements in a similar fashion to those that appear in “Main Hoon Na”.   Look at the following link – the trailer for the American film: “Not another teen movie”


Does this trailer not articulate ALL the elements Farah Khan makes reference to?  An adult posing as a student?  The hot jock and the evil good looking popular nasty girl?  The cheerleaders?  The unpopular student who wins the day at the end?  Why isn’t “Not Another Teen Movie” considered a parody, while “Main Hoon Na” considered ceinphillic?

Perhaps the best way to answer this question is to see how the director’s attitude towards these appropriated elements affect the film.  For, although there are many similarities between both films, this is one significant distinction, which makes the difference between a “parody” film and a cinephillic one.  In “Not another Teen movie” the director is laughing AT the conventions.  The director is highlighting them for viewers in order to create humor and produce comedy.  “Main Hoon Na”, on the other hand makes affectionate references to Hollywood but these are not for pure comic effect.  Farah Khan takes the element of cinephillia seriously, as the themes she incorporates become part of the film, and not the sole purpose of the film.  She is paying homage, but not mocking.  By the end of the film, real national and personal questions are asked – the cinephillic elements incorporated only adding to the greater multifaceted complexity of the work.

In this sense her film are elevated from the lesser category of a parody, and can be considered a sophisticated work of cinematic art.

Filed by abtroen at April 29th, 2013 under Uncategorized

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