Type: Process Essays
Sample donated: Jessica Anderson
Last updated: June 11, 2019
Chapter2Review of literatureManystudies have been conducted on the Indian Cinema Industry, and on thestereotypical portrayal of women in Indian cinema. This stereotypical portrayalof women in Indian cinema has been a subject of debate amongst the feministscholars. Although there have been studies on women – centered movies that havetried to address women’s issues, there has been very little, sociologicalresearch done on the portrayal of women in the films. The films which I havechosen, women are shown to break out of the conventional roles, and stand-upfor themselves. This thesis is an attempt to analyze such movies. TheLiterature Review section will do an in depth analysis on women orientedmovies. Astudy was conducted on gender stereotypeportrayal of women in the media: Perception and impact on adolescent by Archana kumarai & Himani Joshi.
Quantitative survey research method was usedfor the study. A sample of 100 students in the age group of 17 to 20 years wasselected for the study. The study concluded that there is stereotypicalrepresentation of gender roles in media. It reinforces the traditional patriarchal notions of gender as perceivedby the adolescents.
Female students showed more agreement with typicalstereotypical representation of women in traditional role or as a sex object.They felt a need for regulation on the content of media as compared to male.Astudy on women and their portrayal inIndian cinema by Mana Tabatabai Rad(2016) analyzes two Hindi movies: Daman-directed by Kalpana Lajmi and Mirtyudand – directed by Prakash Jha. The author examines women’s portrayal inIndian cinema by applying sociological approach which focuses on agency. And also Rad (2016) uses these films toinvestigate the inter relation of gender and portrayal of women in Indiancinema. The first film Daman explainshow woman can be physically and emotionally exploited by her own husband. Thedirector shows a woman who bears all the pain and suffering caused by herhusband.
Finally she uses violence as an instrument of her strength and shekills her husband. This movie indicates that women must arise above the maledominated society and fight for their rights. The director pays attention tothe topic of education of women. . In Daman,Durga, the protagonist, who could not take decisions regarding her own life,becomes empowered when she decides that she would not let her daughter sufferthe same fate and would ensure that her daughter gets the right to make thedecisions related to her life.
In Daman, the director has emphasized women’sempowerment and improvement of women’s status with help of education. In the movie, Mrityudand, heroine is an uneducated woman. The director depicts mental power of the women and that educatingher can bring lots of changes in the society.
Both films have shown how oncethe women take the first step towards decision making autonomy, the process oftheir liberation begins. Rad (2016) concludes that these films portray womenboth as victimized and empowered ones. To break down the gender stereotype insociety, education is the tool which can bring lots of changes in the societyand the lives of women in economic and in real life where they exercise theirfreedom. Discrimination can be irrigated by giving awareness to all the girlchildren and women empowerment can create better society, where cultural valuesare respected. Astudy on portrayal of women in Indianmass media: an investigation by HimashreePatowary (2014) analyzed various criticisms raised by feminist writers inprint media as well as visual media. Patowary (2014) analyzed various secondarysources of data like books, magazines, journals, periodicals. She adds that according to different feminists’writers such as Simon de Beauvoir, Shulamith Firestone, Kate Millet, Gallagher,Bretty Friedman, media are reinforcing stereotypical images of women asinferior, subordinate and submissive- house wives devoid of all qualities ofdecision making.
Media representations of Indian women reveal that they areless accepted and respected as persons and looked upon more as objects. She hasthree projected roles- biological, domestic and decorative. According tovarious feminist writers such as Ritu Menon, Kamala Vasin, Kiran Prasad, Indiansociety is male dominated and this dominance can be seen everywhere andunfortunately media is no exception to that. Astudy on Portrayal of Women in IndianCinema and Print Media: Socio-Psychological Perspective by Geeta Bharti and Kamlesh Kumar reveals the performance and portrayal of women inmedia. Bharti and Kumar uses thesecondary sources of data from books, magazines, journals, periodicals and different websites of year 2015 and Indian cinema from 2010 to 2015. They arguethat due to gender stereotyping in India, and India being a patriarchalsociety, the media is also portraying certain gender biases. In foreigncountries things are better as less stereotyping is present in their society.So media also portrays women in a better way.
In India things are changing veryslowly. The only way for women to be accepted in society is by creating gendersensitive awareness programs and education for people to give equality to women.Astudy on Women’s Cinema in the 1920sby Rosanna Maule and CatherineRussell argues that in order to understand how women experience cinema, oneneeds to look at their publications, memoirs and so on (during the silent era).The study emphasizes on the fact that women’s understanding of silent films wasdifferent not just because they tried to understand it at the backdrop ofsocial and cinematic experience (meaning the existing social and cinematicunderstanding and reality of people) but also the fact that cinema gave thatspace for giving new perspective on certain social and everyday aspects oflife.
Astudy on gender reflections in mainstreamHindi cinema by Nidhi ShendurnikarTere (2012) reveals that women in Bollywood have been unidimensional characterwho is good or bad white or black. This dichotomy in popular films hasdistinguished between the heroine and vamp. Films also been inspired to largeextend from religion and mythology.
Where the women’s character were perfect invirtues. For example Hindi Films like Dahej(1950), Gauri (1968), Devi (1970), Biwi ho to Aisi (1988), Pati Parmeshwar (1988) depicted womenas passive and submissive wives who are perfect figures and martyrs for theirown families. These films show the ‘victim’ wife who refuses to leave herhusband’s house even in the face of severe emotional violence. Abhimaan (1973) begins with premise ofthe wife (Jaya Bachchan) being more talented than the husband (AmitabhBachchan). Women rather than being depicted as normal human beings are elevatedto a higher position of being ideal who can commit no wrong. They are alsoportrayed as the ‘other’ because they are shown as not belonging to the worldlylife. The film shows that the wife cares about satisfying the husband’s ego,culminating into a conventional closure to traditional values of marriage andmotherhood.
The women in Madur Bhandarkar’s films are usually shown as bold andempowered women who lead life on their own terms, take their own decisions, are’rebels’ who don’t conform to social norms and excel in their respectiveprofessions.Astudy on Misogyny in Bollywood by Burhan Wazir (2013) analyzed the rapeand murder of a young physiotherapy student in Delhi led to criticism of theportrayal of women in films. Mohanrao Bhagwat, the leader of the RSS (RashtriyaSwayamsevak Sangh) felt that such crimes hardly took place in Bharat. NeerajKumar argues that in early years women’s were not allowed to study and theywere treated as house arrested. Even in those days women were seduced bymalechavernistic society. So this issue took place in Bharat not because ofbollywood films. The increasing number of rapes in the country is due towesternization. This has been continued may be due to the portrayal of media.
Wazir(2013) states that after independence in the 50s and 60s women were portrayedas cooking meals served husband and taking care of the children. In 70s and 80sfilmmakers didn’t wholly abandon the conservative values. Astudy on K. Balanchander: An InnovativeFilmmaker by Sathiavathi Chinniah(2009) analyzes few films of K.Balanchander. He has depicted women as courageous and readyto take risks in order to achieve their goals in his movies. Women arethe protagonists in many of his movies. Even when they are not, they areassigned a strong role instead of being the ornamental objects.
For example the movie Ethir Neechalwhich was released in 1968 and UnnalMudium Thambi in 1988 shows women as a strong role. Diskey in her researchabout Tamil audience in Madurai, She says “Frequently they show women are selfsacrificing, persevering wife, self centered women who transformed in to properTamil women. After the marriage breaks up the happy family life and avoidtraditional joint family. According to Wadly “Indian women are controlled bythree important roles in the society, that of daughter, wife, mother. Astudy on The Stereotypical Portrayal ofWomen in Commercial Indian Cinema by HariKrishna Behera analyzed two movies for the study. The two movies which were released in 1996-fire and water in 2005.
This film water begins with 1940’s in the preIndependence era, where Gandhi speaks about non violence movement the biggestphenomena in British colonial India. Widows were considered unlucky and curseon society. The movie examines the plight group of widows forced in to povertyat a temple in the holy city of Varanasi. It focuses on a relationship betweenone of the widows who want to escape the social restriction imposed on thewidows and bring relive for the women those who really go through lots pain andsuffering. The movie water portrayed the real situation of women in thesociety. The movie shows the reality of women specially widows who are notconsidered as human beings.
Themovie fire which was released in 1996, portrayed women in roles the ills of theHindu religion and atrocities committed on Hindu widows in the 1940’s wereshown in that movie. Both the films stirred the anger of the religious group.The movie examines two women by chance were daughter in law of the samehousehold in heterosexual marriage. They did not receive true love, support andcare from their own life partners brought them to involve in this acts. Theyfind satisfaction in heterosexual acts which they were lacking in the marriage.Astudy on Portrayal of women in media byDeepanjali Mishra (2015) analyzessecondary sources of data. Mishra (2015) in her study revealed thatin Indian Media women are shown in general as focusing only on their family needs,creating focuses on religion at times scruples.
In advertisements women are depicted as sex commodity. According to Mishra (2015) after Independence thefilm industry has seen a gradual change which focuses on modern feminism. Overthe past few years Hindi cinema broke the stereotypes depicted Indian womencoming of age not only the young ones but also women in different shades ofgrey. A study on Breaking the stereotypes: A feminist reading of the movie Dangalby Vikram Singh analyzed the movie Dangal. In the movie Mahavir singh Phogat is a formerwrestling champion had to quit the sport due to his family pressure as it wasnot helping his family financially.
He has four daughters. Mahavir realizesthat his daughters Geeta and Babita can do the game wrestling. Geeta soonbecomes a known wrestler in the state and international level. Mahavir and histwo daughters struggle towards glory at the commonwealth in the face ofsocietal oppression.
According to Singh (2017) the two girls prove thatgender is not restraint in their path to victory. In this movie women aredepicted as strong and they can make their mark without adopting the masculine.Astudy on Identity of Muslim women inHindi Movies by Kumar Paraganalyzes four Hindi movies. In the movies women are depicted as strong roles. Forexample the movie Nikaah (Marriage) released in the year 1982. The heroinecomes from a middle class Muslim family. He gets married to a Nawab Waseem.Nilofer is longing for love from her husband.
But he uses as commodity and needto fulfill the physical needs. When she voices out, in his anger shows talak(divorce) thrice. She has to leave the house. Finally stays in a ladies hostel.She decided to look for a job interview; her application is turned down becauseshe is a divorcee. In the working placeshe finds an old college friend Haider. They marry each other and living ahappy life.
The first husband realizing his mistakes and acknowledge hisfaults, and he wants Nilofer to live with him. The second husband ready todivorce her, thinking that still she has love towards her first husband.Nilofer, a strong woman, takes a bold step and expresses her desires that Iwant to live a free woman.
I don’t want to satisfy both of your needs. Paragconcludes that women are depicted as they have right to decide about their ownfuture in a male dominated society.A study on Portrayal of Women in National Awarded HindiMovies: A Content Analysis by ManjuKataria & Bandana Pandeyanalyzes the portrayal of women in National Awarded Hindi Movies.
In the movieRaincoat, Neerja, was in love with Manu. But she left him to marry a wealthierman instead. Manu is in need of money for his sister’s wedding. So he goes outto collect money from his former girl friend. When she meets him, she is poor.
But she never shows this to Manu and lies to him over and over again. In spiteof being poor, she gives Manu her bangles, without saying anything. She readsthe letter of Manu and gives him money and mobile. Women play a vital role in the movie. Finallythey have found that Indian cinema has adapted to the various socio- culturalaspects seen in Indian socie