Sabu: elephant boy, international icon
Lawrence, M. print (2012) Sabu: elephant boy, international icon. British Film Institute. [Unpublished]
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Publisher's URL: http://www.bfi.org.uk/
Sabu: Elephant Boy, International Icon will be the first full-length study of the career of Sabu, the first Indian to become an international film star. Born Selar Shaik Sabu in Karapur, Mysore, Southern India, on 27 January 1924, Sabu (also known as Sabu Dastagir) became one of the most popular international film stars of the late 1930s and 1940s, working first in England and then mainly in the United States until his death in 1963. Despite his significance as the first Indian actor to achieve international fame, Sabu has yet to receive serious critical recognition or evaluation. This book will examine an international star whose career reveals the effects of the mythologizing and typecasting of non-white performers in Anglo-American popular culture, and whose performances raise questions about the perception and appeal of the ‘natural’ performer, the ‘primitive’ child and the ‘exotic’ body. Sabu will address his stardom and his individual performances in relation to their immediate historical, political, cultural and industrial contexts. The book will also examine his significance today: Sabu’s legacy is controversial and contested due to the kinds of characters for which he is remembered—the native savage, the exotic sidekick-and the naïve innocence that is often ascribed to his professional life. I will argue for the necessity of reassessing the full range of Sabu’s film work in order to properly address the meaning of his stardom and the pleasures of his performances.
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