Social Issues in Cinema

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THE STEREOTYPICAL PORTRAYAL OF WOMEN
IN COMMERCIAL INDIAN CINEMA
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A Thesis
Presented to
The Faculty of the Department
of Communications
University of Houston
___________________________________

In Partial Fulfillment
Of the Requirements for the Degree of
Master of Arts

_______________________________________

By
Sowmya Nandakumar
May, 2011

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter 1 _________________________________________________________________1 Introduction
Chapter 2 _________________________________________________________________8 Pilot Study – Quantitative Methodology
Chapter 3 ________________________________________________________________19 Methods and Research Questions
Chapter 4 ________________________________________________________________22 Women in Indian Cinema: History, Socio-Cultural Factors and Women’s Roles in Films Chapter 5 ________________________________________________________________44 The Great Indian Epics and Indian Pop culture

- Character Prototypes in Epics and Their Influence on Story Telling in Indian Cinema Chapter 6 ________________________________________________________________54 Elements that Encompass the Film Viewing Audience

- The Film, Audience and Film, Film and Other Media
Chapter 7 ________________________________________________________________64 The Controversy over Films with an Alternate Storyline
- Films Fire 1996 and Water 2005, Directed by Deepa Mehta
Chapter 8 ________________________________________________________________72 Answering Research Questions
Chapter 9 ________________________________________________________________74 Discussion – Objectification of the Female Lead
Chapter 10 _______________________________________________________________82 Conclusion
Appendix 1_______________________________________________________________85 Appendix 2_______________________________________________________________88 Appendix 3_______________________________________________________________92 References _______________________________________________________________93

Chapter 1: Introduction
According to Census of India (2001), India has 22 official languages included in the eighth schedule of the Indian constitution. In addition to these there are 100 other languages which are not included in the eighth schedule of the Indian constitution. Of these 122 existing languages feature films are made in 20 of them. Ganti (2004) writes, “Feature films are produced in approximately 20 languages in India” (p. 3). The term “Indian cinema” therefore could refer to films made in any of these 20 languages. On the basis of the percentage of films generated, “the four South Indian film industries (Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada), that account for almost 60% of the films made since 1971 together represent the largest section of the Indian film industry” (Kindem, 2000, p. 37), followed by Hindi cinema or Bombay cinema, popularly termed “Bollywood” which produces “about 150 to 200 films of a total of 800-1000 films a year, 20% of the total number of films made in India” (Ganti, 2004, p. 3).

According to Ganti (2004), Hindi films, though comprising only 20% of the film product of the nation, are the ones that circulate nationally and internationally dominating discourses on Indian film. Hindi film represents Indian cinema internationally and is regarded as the standard archetype to follow or oppose (p. 3). This is because the principal official language of India is Hindi succeeded by English. Hindi is the national language of India, and in a country which has 22 official languages it is convenient to have one official Indian language, which is representative of India, and Hindi is that language. Therefore, Hindi feature films become representative of Indian films in any international forum. In the purely regional context of India itself, films made in Hindi are viewed across the nation owing to the commonality of this language....
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