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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Bollywood stereotypes...

Bollywood produces highest number of films in the world annually. We cannot boast of technical sophistication or sometimes a decent script in our movies but there are certain elements in our movies which have been there since the advent of cinema and its impact on Indian audiences mind.
Here are some of the stereotypes that we see in almost every Bollywood movie and have accepted it as it is-
1) Religion -
 i) Muslim -
ii) Christain -
iii) Sikh -
iv) Parsi -
2) Region -
i) South India -
ii) North -East India - 
3) LGBT -
4) Ghost (Bhoot) - 

1) Religion-

i) Muslim –
When was the last time you saw a hindi movie with a person belonging from the minority being termed as lead?;  you can finger count on movies with such theme. Muslim characters are portrayed as sidekicks or an elderly giving advice to hero. He will be an expert in singing qawwalis and ghazals . He will have long beard, sherwani, skull cap and rosary in his hands. In earlier days of cinema muslims girls were termed as courtesans and tawaifs performing for feudal lords and the elderly aami jaan’s were betel nut chewing - loud mouth - burqa clad woman with heavy make-up.  

During the 70’s when mindless action movies were produced they were portrayed as antagonist in countless movies wearing an Arab robe, having cigar in mouth, speaking broken Arabic and having a suitcase in hand. Times changed so did their characterization as the Kashmir issue was much debated, movies about patriotism sprung and villains were wearing robes (mostly colorful),riding horses, having redness in their eyes as if they are suffering from conjunctivitis, scarf over head and having K-47or AK-56 with them. While their leader chants prayer, looks like a priest and plans to destroy India as he says ‘Kashmir ki azzadi’ at least thousand times in a movie. If there is a terrorist attack in India then it is carried by muslims; but how can they alone hatch such a plan?  They obviously need internal help which is provided by hindus as they are in majority. How many times have you seen a hindu being portrayed as terrorist?

Now-a-day’s things have changed muslims are portrayed as office going normal people struggling like any other average Indian. They are educated and so are their daughters as in “Well done Abba”. They have dreams and courage to follow it with their family support as shown in “Iqbal”. They don’t have a 15 minute time slot but moves with protagonist as portrayed by Madhavan as Farhan in “3 idiots”.


Work- a) Men:-tailors, qawwali singers, priest, smugglers, goons, terrorist
            b) Women: - courtesans, nautch girls, housewives

Attire - a) Men: - sherwani, rosary, skull cap and scarf
             b) Women: - gagra, choli, burqa or veil

Movies should watch: - Roja, Pakeezah,Sarfaorsh, Gadar, New York, My name is Khan, Well done  abba, Iqbal, Dev and many more.


ii) Christian -  
They never caught attention of film makers during advent of Indian cinema but gradually were included as for one or two scenes. They were portrayed as old, grumpy and senile.  During 70’s Christian men were part of mafia kingpin’s goon list and women were vamps and cabaret dancers. Men were named as Peter, Andrew or Robert and women as Rose, Lily, Julie or Mona. Most of the time women were caricatured as loose character. Decency in occupation was seen as for men with post of driver, auto mechanic, priest and working in office and for women there was post of nurse, teacher and secretary. They always speak with broken English while conversing hindi. 

Most of the times they were drunk and used to play dim-wit person. Christians were portrayed as being a native of Anglo-Indian or Goan background whereas Mangalorean, Malayalee and Tamil relations were ignored. Kerala was the first place in India to be visited by St. Thomas (Jesus’ apostle) and still I doubt whether there is any bollywood movie which showed a Keralite catholic in celluloid.

Work- a) Men: - priest, smugglers, goons, teachers, drivers
           b) Women: - cabaret, secretary, housewives, teachers

Attire - a) Men: - modern clothing with rosary
             b) Women: - modern clothing with rosary

Movies should watch: - Rock on,Kabhi haan kabhi naa, Ekk deewana tha and Khamoshi are some really good ones.

iii) Sikh –
They are typecast as foolish, dumb and silly in majority of hindi cinema. They are rich otherwise car-mechanic or driver. They always speak with double word for single object like “chappathi-shappathi”, “milk-shilk”, “dole-shole” and are strong, affable and hard working. A good number of times they are added in script for comic relief. I don’t know any movie were they are never cast as villain

Work- a) Men: - business, drivers, mechanic
            b) Women: - housewives

 Attire - a) Men: - sherwani and modern clothing
              b) Women: - gagra choli, Punjabi suit, salwar kameez, modern clothing

Movies should watch: - Singh is kinng , Veer-zaara and most of  Yash Raj and Deol movies

iv) Parsi –
They have a tailor-made character as they are rich, crazy and always helpful.  The elderly sometimes use cuss words and mostly wear banyans. They often have coffee shops, hotels and business.

Work- a) Men: - business, 
            b) Women: - housewives

 Attire - a) Men: - modern clothing and cap
              b) Women: - modern clothing

Movies should watch: - Being Cyrus, Ferrari ki sawaari, Little Zizou …

2) Region -
i) South India -
They are dark, thick mustache, wearing lungi or mundu , tilak(mark) on forehead and speaking with heavy Tamil accent even though the character is from Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka. They are highly educated and work as officials in government or private firms. They are God –fearing and have thousands of deities photo with whom they spend at least 45 minutes in morning prayer. They always love classical music, classical dance and knows everything regarding hindu puranas. They always say “Aiyyo” before saying anything and women have mogras on their head; 15 minutes of screen time is the duration of their role in movies which you might miss if you blink.

Work- a) Men: - officers, teachers 
            b) Women: - teachers, housewives

 Attire - a) Men: - shirt , pant and belt (holding pant above waist)
              b) Women: - saris

Movies should watch: - Hamara Dil Aapke Paas Hai, Stanley ka dabba, Ra one ….

ii) North-East India -
This community hardly has any kind representation in hindi cinema. Our film makers love north-eastern beauty being captured on lens but when it comes in addressing their trials we fail. The last time I saw a north-eastern movie with a A-list star cast was Tango Charlie. Mostly they are portrayed as Naxals or seen as a face among the crowd in Indian armed forces.

Work- a) Men: - naxals, teachers 
            b) Women: - housewives

 Attire - a) Men: - modern clothing
              b) Women: - modern clothing

Movies should watch: - Tango Charlie (the only A- list star cast based movie I have seen)

3) LGBT -
Our law makers and filmmakers never had time to address their issue. That is the sole reason that till today gays are stereotyped as effeminate and weak while lesbians are never seen in big screen. But off lately their issue was addressed by art cinema and parallel cinema and was depicted with sincerity many a times. But still it seems like a long wait for bollywood to produce movies belonging to the class of  Milk or Brokeback mountain ?

Work- a) Men: - normal jobs  
            b) Women: - normal jobs

 Attire - a) Men: - modern clothing
              b) Women: - modern clothing

Movies should watch: - Dostana, Fashion, Page 3 …

4) Ghost (bhoot) -
Ghosts are the most stereotyped category in bollywood. They always wear white sari (whiter than those sari in Tide detergent advertisements) and hair is left loose. Nearly all Ghost in hindi cinema are women and it does seem like it is a feminist area. Recently Ghost was portrayed differently as in movies like “Darling” and “Ragini MMS”.
When was the last time you saw ghost wearing a miniskirt or churidar ?
Or ghost without vampire teeth?
In bollywood there is no vampire, werewolves and dracula; bhoot is amalgam of all these.

Work- a) Men: - tantriks or priest 
            b) Women: - scaring people

 Attire - a) Men: - it’s a feminist society
              b) Women: - white sari

Movies should watch: -  Hum Tum Aur Ghost, Paheli, Ragini MMS…

Our filmmakers should understand that a character should not be drawn to limelight by some mere clich├ęs but the emotions which is shared by everyone in the script just like Amar Akbar Anthony...

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