Bollywood and Gender
Research Proposal Aim: To study and compare the role of women in some of the women centric Hindi films released between 1980 to 1990 and 2000 and 2010. Objective: To study the issues of gender, caste, development that were perceived in Indian cinema then and now in women centric films. A comparative study about the representation of women in Indian cinema then and now in women centric films. Scope: There are a numerous women centric films that are created in diverse languages around the world. When we focus even on one specific type, we get to know about the culture and thought process of that specific region.
Also, a strong statement emerges out of the analysis which is a reflection of the prevailing ideologies in the society. This paper will be mark a statement on the thought process, beliefs of the people especially for the women. These beliefs systems and ideologies will be compared through women centric Bollywood movies that were released between 1980’s to 1990’s and 2000 to 2010. The scope can be extended to many women centric movies made in various languages other than Hindi. One can also include the earliest of the eras for a detailed comparison and in-depth study.
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Not only a comparison on the issues like gender and caste but also a comparison on other issues like lifestyle, costumes, movie posters etc can be done. Limitations: This paper is limited only to Bollywood films because of the language constraints. Also, only two decades have been chosen since the comparison and study would be possible with a limited number of films to study. Also, from each decade four women centric films are chosen and then studied thoroughly. Followed by is a detailed analysis of the movie based on the issues of Gender, caste, development, ideologies. Research Question: What is the difference in the representation of women portrayed earlier (1980-1990) and that which is shown now (2000-2010)? • What are the factors that have affected the change in the representation of women in Hindi cinema esp. between the 1980- 1990 and 2000-2010? And how is the transition identified? • Was the image of women shown in the movies of 1980-1990 stronger, bolder than those shown now (2000-2010)? Introduction: Confirming Aristotle’s view of art as an imitation of life, gender discrimination in the Hindi film industry does indeed reflect the bias that exists in Indian society.
The gender ratio in India is heavily skewed in the favor of males (1. 08 male(s)/female) (from CIA’s publication). Thus, Indian moviegoers are presumed to be mostly men—roughly between the age of 15 to 34 years. These moviegoers, according to an all-India survey by a research organization, enjoy mindless comedies. Such thinking dominates cinematic expression in one of the world’s largest centers of film production. The Indian entertainment industry stands at $10 billion today and is expected to grow at 18 percent per annum compounded annually over the next two years (Economic Times).
An average Indian spends approximately 4. 6 percent of disposable income on movie watching in theaters. And because issue-based films are not a favorite with the masses, a producer opts for subjects with more appeal so that he or she can recuperate the huge investments involved in film production. Even female filmmakers do not risk funding for their films by focusing on women-centric subjects. At New York’s iView Film Festival held in 2009, which explored gender and sexuality issues, filmmakers and actors on the panel were asked to comment on the presentation of social issues through Indian films.
Zoya Akhtar, the filmmaker of Luck By Chance (2009), and a panel member commented on the female protagonist in her film saying that, “The character could have been any; the fact that she is a woman is a coincidence. ” But because the film ends up centering on the story of a woman, the director struggled for six years to make the film—apparently because numerous male actors turned down the costarring role. She had a difficult time despite her insider status in the industry as the daughter of renowned Indian scriptwriters, Javed Akhtar and the sister of an accomplished film director, actor, producer and singer, Farhan Akhtar.
The absence of female centric scripts in main stream Hindi cinema is partially to be blamed because of its commercial viability. Also, commercially super-hit films like Jab We Met(2007) and Paa(2009) are termed as female centric films, but on observing closely, we realize that both the female characters in the end need their male counterpart to overcome their grief or are heavily relied on them to ensure a happy ending to their story. Hindi cinema is divided into ‘trends’ or ‘eras’. Starting from the silent ra in 1920s, Hindi cinema has evolved tremendously in terms of technique, story telling and the stories that were told. The period from late 1940s till 1960s is considered as the ‘Golden era’ of Indian cinema. Bollywood witnessed a new wave in form of content, where earlier movies focused mainly on mythological stories, after independence, their focus shifted on development issues (Do Bigha Zameen- in 1953), gender (Bandini-in 1963), caste discrimination (Sujata-in 1959), etc. In the early years of Indian cinema, it was Bimal Roy who made a host of films in which his heroines had the lead part to play.
Commercial cinema then had female centric scripts and Nutan, Meenakumari, Madhubala and Waheeda Rehman have portrayed some of the most powerful female characters in Hindi cinema and delivered super-hit films. The role played by Zeenat Amaan in the movie (Qurbani-in 1980) was much ahead of its time. It was bold and headstrong unlike of the characters that we seen in the movies of late 90’s. One of the outstabding commercial hits Seeta aur Geeta concentrated more on the heroines rather than the two heroes. Besides such mirrored plots, some movis have focused exclusively on the heroine and woven the script around a central female character.
In such films, the woman has no prototype. Jaya Bhaduri’s Guddi was one of the early hits where the innocent girl next door image of a star struck teenager became representative of each school going girl for years to come. In other films like Aandhi, an educated wife changes course midway from a happily married woman to a leading politician. When we compare those films with the films produced during 1990s and later, we can see stark contrast in the way female leads were being portrayed. Not only in their portrayal of the character, but also in the way the content of the movie that was generated.
At times or rather most of the times, they were meant to accomplishments to their male counterparts. Shridevi in Lamhe(1991), Madhuri Dixit in Hum Aapke Hain Koun-(1994), Karishma Kapoor in Dil to Paagal Hain-(1997), Fiza-(2000) ,Kajol in Dushman-(1998) and Aishwarya Rai in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam-(1999), Taal-(1999) and Guzaarish-(2010) were some of the most popular leading ladies during this era. Though they were brilliant performers, they hardly were part of a movie where they were not shown adhered to the wishes of the male lead, society and family.
It becomes mandatory to ultimately create an image of an ‘ideal’ girl/woman for the audience (here consumers) because that’s how our society works and secondly it becomes easy for that the idea to sell; hence increase in numbers and popularity. Films like “Dor” (2006), “Silsilay” (2005), “Tehzeeb” (2003), “Pinjar” (2003), “Chameli” (2003), “Satta” (2003), “Filhaal” (2002), “Zubeidaa” (2001) “Lajja” (2001), “Chandni Bar” (2001) and “Fiza” (2000) brought the woman into the spotlight – all these films got critical acclaim, but they didn’t turn out to be a commercial hit.
Surprisingly, in recent times, No One Killed Jessica was the only ‘women centric film’ that sort of worked at the box office. All said and done, it shows that we lack on ideas. We as audience are treading backward as we choose to accept only a specific image of woman being shown. Hence, I would focus on a comparative study of two different bollywood era. This will not only comment on the techniques and style of film making, but it will also comment on the kind of cinema accepted by the masses then and now.
It will clearly showcase the image of a girl or a woman being shown by the film makers and its acceptance by the audience. It will talk about how issues of gender, caste, development were perceived in Indian cinema then and now. Hence, it will become a cultural comparative study of two different decades from Indian history and will help us understand that how the term ‘Indian Culture’ has evolved over a period of time. A Tentative Bibliography: • Criticisicm and Truth by Roland Barthes | | |Television commercials and rural women as audience in India by Ila Patel | | | | | |Ways of Seeing by John Berger | | | | | |About Looking by John Berger | | | | | |Women and Art contested Territory by ChicagoJudy | | | | | |Bollywood in Posters by Ausaja. S. M. M. | | | | | |A Thinking Eye by Paul Klee | | Reference Links: www. indianetzone. com www. indianlink. com www. altlawforum. org www. expressindia. com www. semionaut. com www. sebsteph. com www. slideshare. net Heta Vyas MAJ 0310