Dr. Shampa Malhotra

Dr. Shampa Malhotra as Principal Investigator and Dr. Megha Singh as Co-Investigator completed UGC approved Minor Research Project on Changing faces of Women in Popular Indian Cinema .The project was completed in January 2015.

Executive Summary:
Cinema is a popular media of mass consumption which plays a key role in moulding opinions, constructing images, and reinforcing dominant cultural values. From touring theatres to multiplexes, from silence to surround sound, from drama company boys to superstars, from singing actors to star singers, from reel system to digital projectors, from studios to streets, from cottage industry form to corporate control. Indian cinema has come a long way, reflecting or drawing inspiration from the vicissitudes that India has gone through in the past century. The hundred years history of Indian cinema is glorious,diverse,complex and crisis filled as the Indian subcontinent itself .Mainstream Indian Cinema’s hundred years makes for a pulsating narrative. It has gone from selling dreams in initial days to commodifying wish fulfillment fantasies in recent years, and the journey goes on. Women constitute a major chunk of the country’s population and hence their portrayal on screen is crucial in determining the furtherance of already existing stereotypes in the society. This project deals with representation of women characters in mainstream Hindi/Bollywood cinema.
Hindi Cinema has been a major point of reference for Indian culture in this century. It has shaped and expressed the changing scenario of modern India to an extent that no preceeding art form could ever achieve. A deeper insight into the complex processes of modernization ,colonialism and freedom for women can be acquired through the Indian cinema. Hindi films are deeply imbricated in social transformation and documenting that transformation is the objective of this project.
In the journey of hundred years Indian cinema has witnessed a sea change in the presentation of women characters. From the very first film—Raja Harishchandra-which had no female characters to the modern day, it has not been an easy ride.  All along Indian cinema has been male dominated and the themes were also explored from the male point of view. Over the years there has been a drastic shift in the portrayal of women on screen and also an increase in those calling the shots behind the camera.
There was a phase when women were portrayed as larger than life characters, they were deified and elevated to the level of being perfect ,ideal ,one who can never be wrong. Then came a period when women were portrayed simply as decorative objects, presented as shadows in the background, playing second fiddle to the male protagonist. Gradually time changed and just as women’s role in the society changed, her portrayal in cinema also changed.
Strong female characters, who dared to break away from the shackles of the society started coming into picture.