The Politics of 'other' Women in Indian Cinema

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 9:15 AM
Room: 417
Oral Presentation
Pranta Pratik PATNAIK , Central University of Rajasthan (India), Kishangarh, India
The category of women has never been a homogeneous one. In Indian cinema, a division has always been made between an ideal woman, who has to be necessarily docile, submissive yet standing up for her rights without transgressing her limits, and the ‘other’ woman who is seen as a threat that would disrupt the supposed normalcy of social order. The politics of ‘Othering’ the women in terms of her sexuality, dominance and capacity to lure/distract has put the vamps, courtesans (tawaifs), lesbians, call girls under the ambit of ‘dangerous women’. The paper is an attempt to analyse how further divisions are made within the category of the ‘Other’ women thereby conveying a message to the society that the place of women needs to be defined and determined within the confines of home. It is essential to undertake a critical analysis of such politics of representations particularly in the Hindi cinema because it has the potential to highlight the plight of such women. The paper would like to draw attention to these issues against the backdrop of recent cases of banning dance-bar girls in Mumbai hotels, reluctance of the government to legalise prostitution, where it has almost become a source of livelihood for several poor women and most importantly not recognising the rights of the sexual minorities i.e. lesbians. Based upon a critique of Laura Mulvey’s theory of male gaze, the paper goes beyond simplified versions of patriarchy to a more nuanced approach to understand the political, religious and cultural nexus behind such portrayal of women in Hindi cinema.