ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Unplanned pregnancies: the value of essentialized motherhood in Kabir Singh and Thappad


Dhar Sharma Vyoma - University of Oxford, Department of International Development, Oxford, United Kingdom


02 – Rewriting Hindu Women within Contemporary Popular Media


 This paper examines the treatment of unplanned pregnancies as strategic plot-points within two recent and seemingly disparate works of Hindi cinema—Kabir Singh and Thappad. Commercial Hindi films have begun to depict a variety of female characters. However, the positioning of motherhood as the undisputed outcome of every pregnancy curiously remains an unshakeable norm. By juxtaposing the thematic use of pregnancy in a misogynistic film and a progressive one, I explore the persistent appeal of chastity and motherhood as the hallmarks of desirable Hindi film heroines. I examine the undisputed and implicit acceptance of unintended pregnancies within these films as an unwitting conciliation with patriarchal anxieties. I argue for the need to transcend the rhetoric of “choice” in shaping the popular imagination on women’s empowerment.