Bombay Talkies - hero image

Bombay Talkies and intercultural understanding

Discover stories, films and artifacts connected to the Bombay Talkies film studio and other short films related to Indian culture, develop your intercultural understanding and be inspired to share your insights.

Recommended for Year levels: 7-10

Learning areas: Media, Media Arts

Capabilities: Intercultural understanding

Bombay Talkies captures the excitement and glamour of early Indian cinema, as pioneered by the ambitious and entrepreneurial filmmaker Himansu Rai (1892-1940) and his movie-star wife Devika Rani (1908-1994).

Running for 20 years and releasing 40 films, Bombay Talkies was one of India’s most innovative and highly-resourced movie studios. With lavish production values and a global outlook, the studio was renowned for producing films on controversial topics such as the caste-system and women’s roles in Indian society.

Explore the exhibition or read the inside story:

1. What different cultures are represented? How are they represented?
2. What representations of different values and perspectives can you find?
3. How can this exhibition, or the story of the exhibition, help develop a respect or understanding for different cultures?


1. Discover more about Indian cinema and culture by investigating the representation of women in film.
2. Research Devika Rani's role in the Bombay Talkies studio and the films it produced.
3. What are some of the characters she played and how did they represent beliefs and values surrounding the role of women in Indian culture?
1. Watch the short video From Mother India to Mary Kom on representation in Bollywood films:
2. What arguments does this video make about how do Bollywood films often portray female characters? What are some of the female archetypes mentioned? Are these archetypes also represented in films from other cultures?
3. What has changed since Devika Rani's films?

Watch and learn

Watching films and animations can be an interesting way of developing an understanding of different cultures, how these cultures are represented and the purpose and effect of these representations.

Watch the short video above about the making Sanjay’s Super Team, a Pixar short animation.

1. How does Sanjay define the different cultures represented in his animation ‘Sanjay’s Super Team’. What cultural rituals does he describe?
2. If you were going to make a short film or animation about two different cultures influencing one another, what story would you tell? Which cultural rituals and symbols you would include in your film?
3. Find out about the Hindu deities that are represented in Sanjay’s animation: Vishnu, Hanuman, and Durga.
4. Find out about the Indian super heroes Chakra the Invincible and Leela the mysterious Mighty Girl. Why were these heroes created?

Watch Sai Selvarjan’s beautiful animation Sugarless Tea.

1. How does this film explore connections between cultures?
2. Describe the emotional impact of the film. How does Selvarjan create this impact?
3. If you were going to tell a story with similar emotional journey, how would you represent this journey to an audience?

Watch The Masterchef by Ritesh Batra:

1. What beliefs and values does this film communicate? Compare these to your own beliefs and values? What’s the same? What’s different?
2. What role does food play in the film?
3. Is food an important part of the cultures you relate to? What role does it play?
4. If you were going to make a short film or animation about food and identity, what kind of film would you make?