ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Rewriting Hindu Women in Popular Films


Dimitrova Diana - University of Montreal, Institute of Religious Studies, Montreal, Canada


02 – Rewriting Hindu Women within Contemporary Popular Media


 This paper explores issues related to rewriting Hindu women in popular films and discusses interpretations of gender and Hinduism in Bollywood films of the 2000s. I examine the films Dil cahta hai (The Heart Wants), 2001, Devdas (Devdas), 2002, and Ham Dil De Cuke sanam (I Have Already Given My Heart Away), 1999, from the perspectives of mythological and ideological criticism. I examine the ideological implications of representations of gender and the ensuing conservative re-mythologizing of contemporary Indian culture by the media. Throughout the paper, I raise questions about the power of films to change reality and to shape our hopes, fears and desires. Should we accept the representations of women in the beautifully mythologized Hindu world, which those films present, at face value, or should we should imagine visions of a better world, which entails gender equality and social justice, not presented in those films?