“One More Dirham”: Migration, Emotional Politics and Religion in the Home Films of Kerala

  • Bindu Menon University of Delhi
  • T T Sreekumar MICA, The Institute of Ideas Shela, Ahmedabad, - 380 058, Gujarat, India,


This article explores the Islamic home-film movement in Kerala, India, a video film movement by amateur filmmakers of the Muslim Community. These films circulate in VCD and DVD format in retail outlets in both Kerala and the Gulf Council Countries (GCC). These films are important for their supporting group, Jamaat-e-islami, one of the most powerful Islamist groups in the South Asian countries of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, as they try to gain hegemony among Kerala’s Sunni Muslims through an alternative Islamic public culture. Home-films now circulate beyond their original audience of Muslim women in Kerala, among Keralite migrants in the Arab Gulf, who organize public screenings in social gatherings and labour camps. Indeed, the large-scale migration of labor to the GCC has led to a re-imagination of the moral geography of Kerala Muslim households to account for changing gender norms and family structures. The films, concerned with social reform among the Muslim Community of Kerala, also refract the experience of migration to the GCC, particularly in narrating an emotional landscape characterized by precarious conditions of labour, racialised hierarchy and the kafala (the specific employment system in many GCCs, that is a combination of a contract and patronage) through specific tropes of precarity and philosophy of risk in these films.


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Author Biographies

Bindu Menon, University of Delhi
Bindu Menon Mannil is an Assistant professor in Journalism at Lady Shri Ram College, University of Delhi,  New Delhi. She received her PhD in  Cinema Studies from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi in 2014 and in her thesis she explored a Sensory history of Cinema in South India from 1920-1950.. Her research interests are in cinema studies, religion and media and Migration.
T T Sreekumar, MICA, The Institute of Ideas Shela, Ahmedabad, - 380 058, Gujarat, India,
T. T. Sreekumar holds an M.Phil. in Applied Economics from the Jawaharlal Nehru University (CDS/JNU) , New Delhi and is a PhD in STS (Science, Technology & Society) from the School of Humanities & Social Science, Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST), Hong Kong. Prior to joining MICA, he has taught at the Communication and New Media Department, National University of Singapore (NUS) and at the Division of Social Sciences, HKUST, Hong Kong.
He is the author of the book “ICTs & Development in India: Perspectives on the Rural Network Society” (Anthem Books, London, 2011). Widely published in national and international journals, Sreekumar has research experience in India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore and has presented research papers in major Communications and Social Science Conferences/Seminars held in Asia, USA, Europe, Africa, New Zealand, Canada and Latin America.
He is also the Editor of the Journal of Creative Communications (peer reviewed and an international journal, Sage Publications) and an editorial board member and manuscript reviewer for several other prominent journals.


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