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‘Aadat Se Majboor’/‘Helpless by Habit’: Metrosexual masculinity in contemporary Bollywood

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This article considers the growth of neo-liberal culture in India through the advent of metrosexuality in contemporary, Bombay-based popular Hindi cinema, aka Bollywood. If, by the end of the twentieth century, the iconic ‘angry young man’ of 1970s popular Hindi cinema had been replaced by the ‘creative young man’, the first decade of the twenty-first century witnessed the emergence of the metrosexual male protagonist – one largely defined by his physical fitness, grooming and cosmopolitanism. This article explores the ways in which such a masculinity is ‘packaged’ in several recent films. In particular, these films appear to signal to their audience a certain postmodern savviness about the artifice of such masculinity, as well as its commercial underpinnings in marketing global consumer culture. Such metrosexualization, this article concludes, has now gone one step further with the emergence of the con man protagonist, reworking earlier models of urban Indian masculinity towards an increasingly neo-liberal aestheticization and promotion of individual enterprise, sexual and ethical decadence, and sculpted physiques.

Keywords: Bollywood; con man; masculinity; metrosexual; middle class; neo-liberalism

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Sonoma State University

Publication date: 2012-04-01

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  • Studies in South Asian Film and Media (SAFM) is the most promising new journal in the field. This peer-reviewed publication is committed to looking at the media and cinemas of the Indian subcontinent in their social, political, economic, historical, and increasingly globalized and diasporic contexts. The journal will evaluate these topics in relation to class, caste, gender, race, sexuality, and ideology.
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