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Women Journalists in Hindi Films: Stereotyping the stereotypes By Saswat Pattanayak Subscribe to Saswat Blog
Not just the films themselves, the writings on the portrayal of women in popular Hindi films have too, long been dictated by assigning extremes—the woman’s prerogatives to belong to a side, of the evil or the virtuous, the vamp or the Madonna.
Most authorship have evolved with historical representation of women in Bollywood to lead a discourse on the idealized women figures. Virdi (2003) justifies most studies as the “necessary first step” for providing a rich and abundant characterization of the idealized women figures: passive, victimized, sacrificial, submissive, glorified, static, one-dimensional, and resilient. And then, in her own work, she goes no further than the “first step”, by limiting to content-analysis of three films to study the women representation.
Hindi cinema has been a major point of reference for Indian culture in this century. It has shaped and expressed the changing scenarios of modern India to an extent that no preceding art form could ever achieve.
And yet, the diversity in roles that women play is not aptly brought to examination either by the post colonial discoursers or the film studies intelligentsia. Gopalan (2000) leads discussion on the avenging women in Indian cinema. She argues that discussions of violence have to consider how films replete with avenging women, gangsters, brutal police force and vigilante closures stage some of the most volatile struggles over representations that shape the public and private fantasies of national, communal, regional and sexual identities.
Moreover, feminist discourses often have employed metaphors of space (containment, captivity, and immobility) to describe gendered oppression in the sphere of the private and the domestic. In these discourses, the space away from home (either nature or the public sector of labor) functions as the space of liberation.
Researchers have worked on the thesis that it was no coincidence that the first Indian film was ‘mythological’. There is a scarcity of literature dwelling upon portrayal of the working women in
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films. In her essay, “The Woman: Vamp or Victim”, Vasudev (1983) argues that the working woman has suffered an ignominious fate. “The ‘modern’ girl is either defeated or made to reform, having been brought to see the effort of her ways. Everything is idealized, romanticized, sentimentalized. Women are seldom shown capable of rational, logical thought or action.”
There is an elaborate discussion of one female journalist character by Bagchi (1996). However he steers the idea towards sexism in the Indian films and deliberates on portrayal of women as physical objects. “Roma's body language is the other thing which is supposed to depict her as a ``liberated" woman. In all her encounters with Amar she is shown to be sexually aggressive. (Bagchi, 1996). Roma (Raveena Tandon) is a journalist for ‘Samadhan’ (meaning solution) in the blockbuster Mohra (1994). Despite the fact that the journalist in her seeks the truths out and eventually is victorious in her purpose, the discourses centering her portrayals have only focused on her “sex appeal”. “The Changing Face of the Hindi Film Heroine”, by Motwani (1996) also trivializes the role of journalist that Raveena plays and focuses instead on ``.. [the] traditional exhibitionist role [in which] women are simultaneously looked at and displayed, with their appearances coded for strong visual and erotic impact so that they can be said to...