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Contemporary Indian Movies: Female Image Essay

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Updated: Dec 18th, 2021

After visiting India, the representatives of the Western societies come back home bringing diverse impressions, often opposite to each other: some state that this country has made a huge step towards modern civilization, having enriched its culture with the latest achievements of progress; others describe quiet, calm life in the small Indian villages, where time seems to have stopped.

In fact, both opinions are quite realistic: India still lives in several centuries simultaneously. By analogy, the modern time and the past have fused in Indian culture, traditions and social order. The movie “Lajja” shows a perfect example of such fusion, transferring the issue of modernity and tradition into the dimension of the woman’s position in the contemporary Indian society.

The history of Indian women’s position in the society has reversed its direction several times. In ancient times, a woman was considered equal to a man; in the Middle Ages, Indian women’s position deteriorated. However, women continued to contribute in the fields of politics, culture and religion. The XXth century has been marked by a powerful movement for the social rights of the Indian women (Ray 126). Today Indian females hold high posts in politics, business and mass media. Nevertheless, they skillfully combine their responsibilities with keeping their image of beautiful, housewifely and tender women. Mass media also contribute to popularization of this image.

The heart of Indian cinema is Bollywood, which can hardly be called an analogue of American Hollywood. Its name, formed by fusion of the words “Bombay” and “Hollywood”, reflects its nature very precisely: the movies produced by the Indian cinema factory are very up-to date and at the same time have a flavor of Indian culture and tradition, which concerns such elements as plot, aesthetics, soundtrack, and the images of the main characters. The stories for the Indian movies are often taken from traditional literature and folklore; traditional songs and dancing are imprescriptible elements in them. Besides, compared to the Western cinema, Indian movies are considered not containing violence and negative emotions, which also helps them gain popularity throughout the World.

Women’s image in Bollywood movies is put in the limelight. Through their roles, Indian actresses tell about women’s rights in the society and form an image of a successful, independent woman. At the same time, Indian female stars continue to embody Indian ideals of femininity, beauty and skillful housekeeping (Qureshi 121). While Hollywood female stars may become icons owing to either positive image or scandalous reputation, Indian actresses remain the symbols of innocence and piety.

Charming Aishwarya Rai can be considered an embodiment of ideal celebrity for the Indian nation. Her popularity is not limited by the borders of her native country. She works at different studios, including Hollywood, which is not surprising, as her image is rather up to date and universal. Having acted in several American movies and become a face of large multinational corporations, she remains devoted to her motherland and its culture. Her image in cinema stays innocent: she has never kissed on-camera, which is a display of authentic purity of an Indian woman. Besides, the whole Indian nation felt proud of Aishwarya, when she walked out on the stage of the Cannes Festival in a traditional Indian orange sari.

The heroines of “Lajja” have also contributed to popularization of the image of a strong, but feminine and innocent woman. They declare their rights fearlessly and desperately, but they never afford themselves to cross the line of honor. These courageous and charming women make the audience feel sympathy for them and awaken the kindest and the most sincere feelings, which is a good tradition of the Indian cinema. At the same time, their images contribute to struggling against social unhealthy tendencies, as they look convincing and heartfelt. Not accidentally, in the end of the movie, the husband of Vaidehi, has amended his ways. No doubt, a touchy and sincere movie is able to awaken the consciousness of numerous viewers.

Global goods, services and culture tendencies rarely penetrate the local culture in their authentic form – as a rule, they fusion with those local. This process has been given a name of glocalization, which means fusion of globalization and localization (Dasgupta 305). Thus, western tendencies in art and music are interspersed with the national trends; corporations adapt their advertising campaigns to psychological and cultural peculiarities of the local customers. Indian cinema has also inherited much from the Western movies, but it has adapted to the Indian cultural and social traditions. It talks about burning issues within Indian society and embodies Indian notion of good and evil.


Dasgupta, Samir. The Changing Face of Globalization. New Delhi: Sage, 2004. Print.

Qureshi, Muniruddin. Social Status of Indian women: Emancipation. New Dehli: Anmol, 2003. Print.

Ray, Sangeeta. En-Gendering India: |Woman and Nation in Colonial and Postcolonial Narratives. Durham: Duke Univ. Press, 2000. Print.

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