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Indian Women In The Flesh: From Prose To Screen

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A frequently occuring storyline in Indian cinema revolves around a sexually adventurous or morally ambiguous female protagonist, often a prostitute or entertainer. Such films have been observed by some commentators to provide merely "the constant sexual titillation of the bourgeois sexual nerve." (Prasad, 148) Popular films are viewed as more commercially viable if they appeal to the audience's prurience, the tone generally being voyeuristic and sanctimonious by turn. Examples of infantile male sexuality and cliched sexual insecurity abound in Indian popular cinema. The sexual and emotional immaturity of popular film is perhaps most difficult to avoid or most unwillingly rejected, even by adventurous filmmakers, in the depiction of women. Nevertheless, the cliched independent woman who is reduced to a harmless virginal figure by marriage or love is disappearing in more thoughtful films as is the notion that to win the hero a woman must be untainted even by mere outward sexual display Some filmmakers attempt to break from the bind of audience expectation of favorite stereotypes by balancing the use of these traditional stereotypes with a suggestion of the way in which tradition retards and distorts social change. (Binford, 1988)
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Keywords: Female stereotype; Indian cinema; depiction of women; protagonist; social change; tradition

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2000

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  • Asian Cinema is a seminal journal, which has been published since 1995 by the Asian Cinema Studies Society under the stewardship of Professor John Lent. From 2012 Asian Cinema will be published by Intellect as part of our Film Studies journal portfolio. The journal currently publishes a variety of scholarly material - including research articles, interviews, book and film reviews and bibliographies - on all forms and aspects of Asian cinema. The journal's broad aim is to advance understanding and knowledge of the rich traditions of the various Asian cinemas, thereby making an invaluable contribution to the field of Film Studies in general.
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