Gendered representations in contemporary popular Hindi cinema : femininity and female sexuality in films by Pooja Bhatt and Karan Johar.
This dissertation focuses on a textual analysis of the representation of femininity and female sexuality in popular Hindi cinema. Popular Hindi cinema has been a major point of reference for Indian culture in the last century, and will undoubtedly persist in the 21 st century. To an extent, Hindi cinema has shaped and reflected the burgeoning transformation of a 'traditional India' to a 'modern India'. (I use the term modern to reflect the impact the west has had on Indian society, and how this impact in turn is reflected on screen). Issues surrounding gender and sexuality tend to be avoided, if not subverted in Hindi cinema. More specifically, issues surrounding femininity and female sexuality in Hindi cinema is either not recognised or 'mis-recognised' on screen. Feminist studies, in relation to film, have taken up these issues, to a large extent in the west (cf. Hollows, 2000; Kaplan, 2000; Macdonald, 1995). Chatterji (1998) maintains that the interest of feminists in film began as a general concern for the underrepresentation and mis-representation of women in cinema. This study explores issues surrounding the 'presences' and 'absences' (as identified by Chatterji) in the representations of female sexuality and femininity in popular Hindi cinema. The project offers a comparative study of the films produced by two popular Hindi cinema filmmakers. Pooja Bhatt's Jism (The Body) (January, 2003) is analysed in comparison to Karan Johar's Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham (Sometimes happiness, sometimes sadness) (November, 2000). The study compares, contrasts and analyses the ways in which each of these films (and thus, how each filmmaker) positions female sexuality and femininity in popular Hindi cinema. Keywords: popular Hindi cinema, femininity, female sexuality, gender, representation.