As Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, Bibek Debroy’s contributions to economic theory, study of income and social inequalities, and to law reforms, and additionally to Indology are well known. But Debroy has also, surprisingly, co-authored a paper that looks at India’s economic transition through Bollywood’s eyes. “We made a film on CD, with clips: the idea was to use Bollywood to drive home economic policy messages. This paper was born of that,” he confides. In this offbeat interview, he expands on the theme.

Your paper notes that films over the years reflected the changing moods in economic policy…

We’re essentially talking about commercial films: films that began to reflect liberalisation, with a time lag. We also wanted to look at the portrayal of villains. At the time of land reforms, the typical villain was the landlord. Then, when the Essential Commodities Act came along, the villain was

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