Portrayal of Women in the Popular Indian Cinema

Sharaf Rehman, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Original published version available at https://ifp.ujk.edu.pl/studia_filologiczne/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Portrayal-of-Women-in-the-Popular-Indian-Cinema.pdf


Popular Indian cinema is primarily rooted in formulaic narrative structure relying heavily on stereotypes. However, in addition to having been the only true “mass medium” in India, the movies have provided more than escapist fantasy and entertainment fare. Indian popular cinema has actively engaged in social and political criticism, promoted certain political ideologies, and reinforced Indian cultural and social values. This paper offers a brief introduction to the social role of the Indian cinema in its culture and proceeds to analyze the phenomenon of stereotyping of women in six particular roles. These roles being: the mother, the wife, the daughter, the daughter-in-law, the widow, and “the other woman”. From the 1940s when India was fighting for her independence, to the present decade where she is emerging as a major future economy, Indian cinema has shifted in its representation and stereotyping of women. This paper traces these shifts through a textual analysis of seven of the most popular Indian movies of the past seven decades.