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Bollywood’s Women November 2, 2009

Posted by Prof. RR in Uncategorized.
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Let’s begin broadly with a discussion of how women are represented in Bollywood. Are they seen mostly as victims of a patriarchal system, as Dasgupta contends? Are their stories/lives seen as significant in the films we’ve viewed? How are their roles rewritten in remakes of Hollywood films?

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1. Alex - November 3, 2009

Dasgupta argues that Hindi films originally depicted females as “long-suffering and submissive,” but eventually underwent a transformation to portray women as strong and independent. I think that through an analysis of the development of Bollywood over years, we can see this progression. For her examples of films that show the victimization of women, she uses films only made before 1990. “Om Shanti Om”, however was made almost twenty years later in 2007, portrays a more independent female character in all three of the main female roles.

Shanti comes back as a ghost that secures the avenging of her antagonistic husband almost single-handedly by haunting the film set to turn on him. She also saves Om from having to commit murder.

Sandy, though originally fickle and naive, manages to come through and secure the success of the revenge plot.

The female character that truly portrays the transformation from the typical depiction of women as submissive to their later depiction as independent, is the mother. At the start of the film she is constantly anxious about Om and seems to be entirely dependent as well as completely absorbed in his well-being. However, at the end of the film, we see that she steps up to the plate as a character who can help further the plot of revenge. She willingly dresses up as a crazy old woman to scare Mike, Shanti’s evil former husband. Through her personal transformation in the film, we can see the nature of the similiar transformation of the portrayal of women in Bollywood.

Considering that “Om Shanti Om” is such a recent Bollywood film, I think that we can get out of it that the portrayal of women has changed since the earlier films of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s that Dasgupta analyzes.


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