The Image of the Female Body in Commercial Indian Films

  • Lars-Winfried Seiler (Autor/in)

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During the 1980s Indian audiences of Indian commercial films have seen a spectacular rise in violence on the screen. A large part of this violence is directed towards women. In most films the heroine or the leading actress has to face rape, torture, or other forms of humiliation. In this article I argue that the increase of violence against women in movies is caused by several interdependent processes in the film-making community and, more important, by an ongoing discussion in Indian society regarding the status of women. I argue that on the one hand the increase of violence against women is part of the general increase in violence on the screen which is caused predominantly by economical and sociological pressures on the film industry. On the other hand this process is part of an ongoing socialeconomic change in India where the once male-dominated spheres of culture and economics are under pressure from the emerging class of economically independent women. Violence against women in films thus serves as a means of re-constructing a male-dominated culture by re-defining women’s roles through narrative.