Gendering in Bollywood

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  • Topic: Cinema of India, Bollywood, Film
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Students’ Research Global Media Journal – Indian Edition/ISSN 2249-5835 Sponsored by the University of Calcutta/ Summer Issue / June 2012 Vol. 3/No.1

GENDER REFLECTIONS IN MAINSTREAM HINDI CINEMA Nidhi Shendurnikar Tere Junior Research Scholar Department of Political Science, Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Gujarat, India Website: Email:, Blog:

Abstract : Cinema is meant and believed to entertain, to take the viewer to a world that is starkly different from the real one, a world which provides escape from the daily grind of life. Cinema is a popular media of mass consumption which plays a key role in moulding opinions, constructing images and reinforcing dominant cultural values. The paper deals with representations of women characters in mainstream Bollywood movies. It is deemed appropriate to examine this issue because women are a major chunk of the country‟s population and hence their portrayal on screen is crucial in determining the furtherance of already existing stereotypes in the society. The paper begins with a discussion on the field of feminist film criticism and how mainstream Hindi Cinema has restricted itself to defined sketches of womanhood. It also undertakes some glimpses from popular films to analyse this process of stereotyping the „other‟ – considering that reality in mainstream cinema is constructed from the male view point. A section is devoted to discussion on contemporary realistic brand of cinema and its understanding of women. In conclusion, a debate ensues on whether mainstream Hindi cinema has been successful in portraying Indian women of different shades in a society dominated by patriarchal values. Key Words: Cinema, popular, media, women, Bollywood, movies, stereotypes, feminist, mainstream, patriarchal

Feminist Film Criticism The issues of media, identity and gender are being discussed all over today. They have become integral to the discipline of media studies. The reason is the popularity and diversity of media as a source of mass consumption and its influence on constructing ideas and generating debate. The media scene in India has expanded in the recent times as there is a plethora of media choices available to the audiences. Media structures and systems have also undergone a sea change with privatization and globalization. Huge corporations with their own profit motives own media houses. Media has been able to transcend borders and look at issues more holistically rather than in the context of nationalism. Hence, these developments are bound to affect the manner in which media scrutinizes and covers any issue – gender being an important one. Women are also major consumers of mass media and thus the way they are represented in media coverage is a major concern for the discipline. Several international forums have recognized the ramifications of such a transformed media environment on women‟s access to media, their role in the media structure and the presentation of their perspective in media coverage. i In this paper, there has been an attempt to examine the relationship between women and popular Hindi cinema. While cinema in India is in itself a diverse strand of expression incorporating mainstream cinema which holds popular appeal, art/parallel cinema that engages with social issues, middle cinema and regional language cinema. The explorations in this paper are limited to mainstream/popular Hindi cinema better known as


„Bollywood‟1 because such cinema is seen to exercise widespread influence over people and enjoys mass appeal. Popular cinema and culture derive from each other. Films are believed to be the opium of the Indian masses as people rely on this medium to help them escape to a world of fantasy. ii In a very explicit way, cinema2 has shaped the cultural, social and political values of people of this country. While, the other forms of cinema are also...
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