Review raised by feminist writers in print

Review of literature

Numerous studies have been conducted on the Indian Cinema Industry,
and on the stereotypical portrayal of women in Indian cinema. This
stereotypical portrayal of women in Indian cinema has been a subject of debate
amongst the feminist scholars. Although there have been some women – centered
movies that have tried to address women’s issues, there has been very little,
if any, sociological research done on the portrayal of women in these films. In
these movies, women are shown to break out of the conventional roles, and
stand-up for themselves. This thesis is an attempt to analyze such movies. The
Literature Review section will do an in depth analysis on women oriented

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A study on portrayal of women
in Indian mass media : an investigation by 
Himashree Patowary analyzed various criticisms raised by feminist
writers in print media as well as visual media. The author Himashree analyzed
various secondary sources of data like books, magazines, journals, periodicals.
Himashree (2014) argues 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 as inferior,
subordinate and submissive- house wives devoid of all qualities of decision
making. Media representations of Indian women reveal that they are less
accepted and respected as persons and looked upon more as
objects. She has three projected roles-
biological, domestic and decorative. According to various feminist writers such
as Ritu Menon, Kamala Vasin, Kiran Prasad, Indian
society is male dominated and this dominance can be seen everywhere and
unfortunately media is no exception to that.

 A study was conducted on gender stereotype portrayal of women in the
media: Perception and impact on adolescent by Archana kumarai & Himani
Joshi . Quantitative survey research method was used for the study. A sample of
100 students in the age group of 17 to 20 years was selected for the study. The
study concluded that there is stereotypical representation of gender roles in
media.  It reinforces the traditional
patriarchal notions of gender as perceived by the adolescents. Female students
showed more agreement with typical stereotypical 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.

A study on women and their
portrayal in Indian 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 in
Indian cinema by applying sociological approach which focuses on agency.  And also Mana Tabatabai Rad uses these films
to investigate the inter relation of gender and portrayal of women in Indian
cinema. The first film Daman explains
how woman can be physically and emotionally exploited by her own husband. The
director shows a woman who bears all the pain and suffering caused by her
husband. Finally she uses violence as an instrument of her strength and she kills her husband. This movie
indicates that women must arise above the male dominated society and fight for
their rights. In the second movie, the director depicts mental power of the women
and that educating her can bring lots of changes in the society. Also shown in
this movie, is the economic power games played by brokers and middlemen at the grass
root level and how men use animalistic power to dominate the fragile being called women in the society. In Daman, the director pays attention to the topic of education of
women. In the second film Mirtyudand the
protagonist is uneducated women . But she manages all the situations of
familial and public relations in her village community. 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 suffer the same fate and would ensure that her daughter gets
the right to make the decisions related to her life. Both films have shown how
once the women take the first step towards decision making autonomy, the
process of their liberation begins. In Daman, the director has emphasized
women’s empowerment and improvement of women’s status with help of education.
In Mrityudand also the heroine is an
educated woman, is a very strong person.   Mana Tabatabai Rad (2016) concludes that
these films portray women both as victimized and empowered ones. And to break
down the gender stereotype in society, education is the tool which can bring
lots of changes in the society and the lives of women in economic and in real
life where they exercise their freedom. Discrimination can be irrigated by
giving awareness to all the girl children and women empowerment can create
better society, where cultural values are respected.

A study on Portrayal of Women
in Indian Cinema and Print Media: Socio-Psychological Perspective by Geeta
Bharti and Kamlesh Kumar reveals the performance and portrayal of women in
media. The Geeta Bharti and Kamlesh Kumar  uses the secondary sources of data from books,
magazines, journals, periodicals  and
different  websites of year 2015 and
Indian cinema from 2010 to 2015. Geeta Bharti and Kamlesh Kumar argue that due
to gender stereotyping in India and India being a patriarchal society, the media is also portraying women by stereotyping
women. In foreign countries 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 very slowly.
The only way for women to be accepted in society is by creating gender
sensitive awareness programs and education for people to give equality to

A study on Women’s Cinema in
the 1920s by Rosanna Maule
and  Catherine
Russell argues that in order to understand how women experience cinema, one
needs 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 was
different not just because they tried to understand it at the backdrop of
social and cinematic experience ( meaning the existing social and cinematic
understanding and reality of people) but also the fact that cinema gave that
space for giving new perspective on certain social and everyday aspects of

A study on gender reflections
in mainstream Hindi cinema by Nidhi
Shendurnikar Tere (2012) reveals that women in Bollywood have been
unidimensional character who are good or bad white or black. This dichotomy in
popular films has distinguished between the heroine and vamp. Films also been
inspired to large extend from religion and mythology. Where the womens
character were perfect in virtues. Hindi 
Films like Dahej  (1950), Gauri (1968), Devi
(1970), Biwi ho to Aisi (1988), Pati
Parmeshwar (1988) depicted women as passive and submissive wives who are perfect
figures and martyrs for their own families. These films show the ‘victim’ wife
who refuses to leave her husband’s house even in the face of  severe emotional violence. Abhimaan (1973) begins with premise of
the wife (Jaya Bachchan) being more talented than the husband (Amitabh
Bachchan). Women rather than being depicted as normal human beings are elevated
to a higher position of being ideal who can commit no wrong. They are also
portrayed as the ‘other’ because they are shown as not belonging to the worldly
life. The film shows that the wife cares about satisfying the husband’s ego,
culminating into a conventional closure to traditional values of marriage and
motherhood. The women in Madur Bhandarkar’s films are usually shown as bold and
empowered 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 respective

A study on Misogyny in Bollywood
 by Burhan Wazir (2013) analyzed  the rape and murder of a young physiotherapy
student in Delhi led to criticism of the portrayal of women in films. Mohanrao
Bhagwat , the leader of the RSS( Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) felt that such
crimes hardly took place in Bharat. Neeraj Kumar argues that in early years
women’s were not allowed to study and they were treated as house arrested. Even
in those days women were seduced by malechavernistic society. So this issue
took place in Bharat not because of bollywood films.The increasing number of
rapes in the country is due to westerinazation. This has been continued may be
due to the portrayal of media.  Burhan Wazir (2013) states that after
independence in the 50s and 60s women were portrayed as cooking meals served
husband and taking care of the children. In 70s and 80s filmmakers didn’t
wholly abandon the conservative values.  

A study on K. Balanchander: An
Innovative Filmmaker by  Sathiavathi Chinniah (2009) analyzes few
films of K.Balanchander and secondary sources of data.  He has depicted  women as courageous and ready to take risks
in order to achieve their goals in his movies. Women are the protagonists in many of his movies.
Even when they are not, they are assigned a strong role instead of being the
ornamental objects. For example the movie Ethir
Neechal  which was released in 1968 and
Unnal Mudium Thambi in 1988 shows women as a strong role. Diskey in her
research about Tamil audience in Madurai, She says “Frequently they show women
are self sacrificing, persevering wife, self centered women who transformed in
to proper Tamil women. After the marriage breaks up the happy family life and
avoid traditional joint family. According to Wadly “Indian women are controlled
by three important roles in the society, that of daughter, wife, mother. The
wife is called sumangali, whose husband is alive wears thali which is very much sacred. According to Bharathiyar , a
famous Tamil poet who had vision in the 19th centuary. Where women
were not allowed to educate them. “He says “creature of self knowledge and self
respect and she would teach and as also love and she would claim her right to
follow the occupations that the males monopolized as their own.

A study on The Stereotypical
Portrayal of Women in Commercial Indian Cinema by Hari Krishna Behera analyzed two movies for the study.  The two movies which were released in 1996-
fire and water in 2005. The movie water portrayed the real situation of women
in the society. The movie examines the plight group of widows forced in to
poverty at a temple in the holy city of Varanasi. It focuses on a relationship
between one of the widows who want to escape the social restriction imposed on
the widows and bring relive for the women those who really go through lots pain
and suffering. A man from the high cast and follower of Mahatma Gandhi who want
to marry her. This film begins with 1940’s in the pre Independence era, where
Gandhi speaks about non violence movement the biggest phenomena in British
colonial India. Widows were considered unlucky and curse on society. The kept
in separate place among the child grows with different ideas. Accept the
hardships of the widowhood as she observes another widow in her early twenties
who is also confided her. The movie shows the reality of women specially widows
who are not considered as human beings. The movie fire which was released in
1996, portrayed women in roles the ills of the Hindu religion and atrocities
committed on Hindu widows in the 1940’s were shown 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 same household in heterosexual marriage.
They did not receive true love, support and care from their own life partners
brought them to involve in this acts. They find satisfaction in heterosexual
acts which they were lacking in the marriage.

A study on Portrayal of women
in media by Deepanjali Mishra
(2015) analyzes secondary sources of data.  Mishra (2015) in her study revealed that in
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 the traditional women
sita  and values upheld in the movies
gradually there is tragic change in the film industry focused on Modern
feminism comes in to contradict with traditional values. Women who stand for
values and would do no wrong.  Over the
past few years Hindi cinema broke the stereotypes depicted Indian women coming
of age not only the young ones but also women in different shades of grey.

A study on Breaking the stereotypes: A feminist reading of the movie Dangal
by Vikram Singh analyzed the movie
Dangal.  In the movie Mahavir singh
Phogat is a former wrestling champion had to quit the sport due to his family
pressure as it was not helping his family financially. He has four daughters .
Mahavir realizes that his daughters Geeta and Babita can do the game wrestling.
Geeta soon becomes a known wrestler in the state and international level.
Mahavir and his two daughters struggle towards glory at the commonwealth in the
face of societal oppression. According to Vikram Singh (2017) the two girls
prove that gender is not restraint in their path to victory. In this movie
women are depicted as strong in their thinking and they can achieve anything in
their life. Women can make their mark without adopting the masculine.