NOTE TO THE READER, ALSO A LISTENER AND SEER
This is a book about experience in a world that looks
and feels so much like cinema—the sensory textures
of this experience, and the circumstances of their craft-
ing. Books on cinema typically focus on ﬁlms already
known for their critical value or popular appeal. They
are usually written with the assumption that their
readers would know something about these ﬁlms.
This book, however, concerns a Tamil cinema still
marginal in the contemporary world. More to the
point, my choice of ﬁlms is almost purely an accident of
ethnographic circumstance: it so happened that I found
myself in the midst of these projects as they unfolded.
What follows is therefore written with no assump-
tion that you do know, or even should know, anything
about these particular ﬁlms. The chapters take up vari-
ous cinematic moments as events in their own right,
and my hope is that these stories will hold all that you
may need as a reader. Still, though, I’m guessing that
you might sometimes want a bit more—after all, the
book seeks to think with the tangible sensations of
If and when such curiosity strikes, there is a web-
site, www.reelworldbook.org, meant to accompany this
book. There you’ll ﬁnd a number of photographs and
ﬁlm clips that may resonate with the words that follow
here, each keyed to one section of a particular chapter.
These are images and sounds that confronted me
ceaselessly in the writing of this book. But I’d like to
think that you might also see and hear them, or some-
thing like them, even as you thumb through these
pages. This is something that tends to happen in a
world of pervasive cinema. I’m trusting that your facul-
ties have gotten as restless and entangled as mine.