Mother India

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Reaction Paper 1: Mother India

Mother India is a 1957 Bollywood film, written and directed by Mehmoob Khan. The movie was made 10 years after India obtained its independence from the British. The movie had major significance in terms of the patriotism and the changing situation in the nation at the time, and how the country was functioning without British authority. The term "Mother India" has been defined as "a common icon for the emergent Indian nation in the early 20th century in both colonialist and nationalist discourse". The theme of female chastity and honour appears to be an extremely intriguing and engaging topic explored in the film. Lonely Planet described the film as "perhaps the most compelling film about the role of women in rural India, a moving tale about love, loss and the maternal bond". In the 1950s, in India, a woman was expected to protect her chastity, especially prior to her marriage. Mother India illustrates how, the protagonist, Radha “stayed true” to this even after her marriage. The sequence set in the bedroom after Radha and her groom, Shamu just got married portray how valuable chastity is to an Indian woman. Her shyness is portrayed in a series of close-ups and medium shots of her turning her head away from Shamu as her tries to get intimate with her. This act of moving away or turning away from an intimate situation suggests a sense of purity in a woman, that she is not accustomed to situations like this and that it is new to her and in a sense depicts her to be a virgin, to both her husband and the viewers. Furthermore, the use of front lighting in the sequence amplifies Radha’s innocence through the soft, direct lighting on her face. Moreover, Radha’s character is continued to be represented as introverted during intimate circumstances with her husband, even after their first marriage night and after she bore children. This is exhibited in the sequence where Shamu tries to get intimate with Radha at home, while his mother is...
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