Indian Woman’s Search for Identity Vis-A-Vis Mainstream Bollywood Cinema


Bollywood cinema, while entertaining India�s millions, plays an important role in reinforcing cultural stereotypes. The Indian Woman�s �drama of self-formation� (John Storey) is best understood through a deconstruction of the representation of the hero, both male and female, in Bollywood cinema. This research proposes to problematize the continuing abstract identities of Indian women who are denied any independent existence besides that of the �other� in mainstream film. Most female leading ladies are cast in larger-than-life roles involving the values of love, care, discipline and obedience, whose lives are marked by self-sacrifice. The other end of the spectrum lies the tawaif-the wayward, reckless, irresponsible woman who dies in the end or is actively denied a place in the film�s happy ending. Real women who walk and live in the grey area, who can be either good or bad when the situation demands, are conspicuously absent. Roles have changed, the focus of the camera has shifted and even as the active female spectator is treated to a view of the objectified male form in recent Bollywood films, she continues to be presented as the other. This researcher hopes to show how the modern Indian woman�s identity has reinvented itself to being an active spectator but from behind the curtain; a double voyeur in a sense. The focus of this paper will be the Indian woman as a flipped Dr. Jekyl and Mr Hyde persona but bold, strong, evolved, unapologetic woman.

Author Information
Michelle Philip, Wilson College, India

Paper Information
Conference: EuroFilm2014
Stream: Film Criticism and Theory

This paper is part of the EuroFilm2014 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon