Title page for ETD etd-09222010-145609

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Ismail, Waheeda
Email waids786@gmail.com
URN etd-09222010-145609
Document Title Ethnography of Indian diaspora women watching Bollywood cinema in South Africa
Degree Master of Arts
Department Afrikaans
Advisor Name Title
Prof H S S Willemse Co-Supervisor
Dr V Milton Supervisor
  • Indian film industry
  • Bollywood cinema
  • South Africa
  • India
  • Indian women
Date 2010-09-03
Availability restricted

In India, mass media is a major site through which the images of femininity are constructed, represented and marketed. The world's largest Indian film industry based in Bombay (Mumbai), known as Bollywood, is owned by big business men who are highly patriarchal in their mindset. Since Bollywood Cinema is owned predominantly by Indian men, it is not surprising that their patriarchal values are reflected in the movies sponsored by them. Hindi films have in many circles become India's unannounced ambassadors in spreading the gospel of Indian culture. It thus becomes problematic because women are portrayed as selfless, ambitionless, sacrificing, chaste, submissive, subservient and weak. These images become institutionalized through the most powerful form of mass media, namely the movies. Nevertheless, of late, these traditional representations of Indian women have been fiercely challenged by both men and women producers, directors and viewers.

While there has been a growing international interest in Bollywood, very little ethnographic research has been conducted on Bollywood audiences outside of India. Specifically with regard to this study, no audience research has been conducted on female Indian viewers in South Africa, thus this study focuses on the construction of meaning in Indian films by South African Indian women. The goal is to learn how and why this diaspora can at times identify with and at other times reject themes presented in these productions. Theories that will be used to evaluate my findings will be derived from the feminist theory in film, including conventional psychoanalytic feminism, where meaning for the female spectator is analyzed from the dual interrogation of self as spectator and self on screen.

Like mainstream film theory, feminist film theory is marked by a focus on the occasion of consumption: the act of watching a film and the identifications that this act engenders. As well as examining the psychical experience of the spectator, feminist film theory also studies the representation of women in filmic discourse. Since this activity is by its nature confined to specific Indian films, it is the analysis of the spectator that consequently forms the central topic for this thesis.

2009, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Ismail, W 2009, Ethnography of Indian diaspora women watching Bollywood cinema in South Africa, MA dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-09222010-145609/ >


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