Reading the Bollywood Film Posters: Semiotic Analysis of Gender Representations from 1970-2020


Film studies have primarily focused on the analysis of films and have neglected film posters’ analysis, even though posters have been an essential tool in film promotions in earlier times as billboards and current times on social media in digital forms. Film posters not only communicate just about the content of the films, but when analyzed collectively, they may convey the changing culture over the years. Gender as a cultural construct has been of prime relevance in the traditionally patriarchal society of India. However, gender analysis of Bollywood film posters has remained under research. To address this gap in the literature, the present study takes a semiotic approach to trace the changes in the depiction of gender protagonists in Bollywood film posters over fifty years from 1970-2020. Based on the analysis of two hundred Bollywood film posters and thirty one-on-one semi-structured interviews, we found interesting insights. The study contributes to the film and communication literature in three ways. First, it highlights the importance of film posters, which have remained neglected. Second, it builds on and advances the semiotic theory in film poster analysis by focusing on elements like props, postures of the protagonists, lighting, colours, facial expressions, body language, and so on. Last, the study shows how film posters are reflective of the cultural changes, in our case, gender issues in India.

Author Information
Hitender Sehrawat, Amity University, India

Paper Information
Conference: MediAsia2023
Stream: Visual Communication

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon