The female body image and indian popular cinema: An analysis of three films—Jism, Murder, and Aksar
There was a time when
kisses were a big 'no no' in
Coincidentally, this is also roughly the
period of time in which the medium of
cinema has become the most popular
form of entertainment in our society.
The question then is, how are women
portrayed in films, in a world where
social change in attitudes is occurring?
Now ,This study
Female Body Image and
Indian Popular Cinema
textual analysis of three films – Jism,
Murder and Aksar
Explores around how women body
image is described in
The charge very often levelled
against cinema is that it acts to
reinforce and perhaps even worsen
sex-role stereotypes of women (and
would include the idea that
women are supposed to look very
pretty, be domestic, have children and
then look after them while the man
goes out to work, and these kinds of
Furthermore, when a female
character is powerful and
strong (and ‘unfeminine’),
she will often ultimately fail
or flounder, and either
change to become more
sensitive and caring, or be
condemned to a life of
misery and loneliness.
► With less taboos in the late nineteen
nineties, films are often more and more
sexual in nature and may show women
being dominant, or may represent women
as able to be the voyeur as well, but it is all
still through the ‘male gaze’, from a man's
point of view with men still superior.
► Provocative images of women's partly clothed
or naked bodies are especially prevalent in
► Women become sexual objects when their
bodies and their sexuality are sold as
► Women’s bodies are often dismembered into
legs, breasts or thighs, reinforcing the
message that women are objects rather than
whole human beings.
► Nicole Krassas, communication researcher
found that films contain a single vision of
female sexuality—that "women should primarily
concern themselves with attracting and
sexually satisfying men.“
In 2003, David Buckingham and Sara Bragg
reported that two-thirds of young people turn to
media when they want to learn about sex - the
same percentage of kids who ask their mothers
for information and advice.
Feminist film theory
film theory is theoretical work
within film criticism which is derived from
feminist politics and feminist theory.
► In considering the way that films are put
together, many feminist film critics have
pointed to the "male gaze " that
predominates in classical Hollywood
► Laura Mulvey's essay "Visual Pleasure and
Narrative Cinema" gave one of the most widely
influential versions of this argument.
► include discussions of the function of women
characters in particular film narratives or in
particular genres, such as film noir, where a
woman character can often be seen to embody
a subversive sexuality that is dangerous to men
and is ultimately punished with death.
In Classical Film Narrative…
are negatively represented as
'not-man'. The 'woman-as woman' is
absent from the text of the film
► The female character is passive and
powerless: she is the object of desire
for the male character(s)
Classical film narrative attracts the
viewers through :
which is the integration of 2
kinds of pleasures :Voyeuristic visual
pleasure And Narcissistic visual
► This is obtained by showing Females as
passive and powerless or showing them as
the object of desire.
The classical film narrative arouses
audience through :
of Castration anxiety —a
fear of lacking penis and the female
character as a source of deeper
solving this is in two ways
1 st , In the narrative structure.
2 nd Through Fetishism.
The aim of the project is to
determine the portrayal of the female
body in Indian Popular Cinema.
To study the characterization of the actors,
especially that of the lead female.
► To analyze the type of behavioral pattern
the female characters exhibit.
► To find out how they are put into the story?
Whether the characters reveal any antifeminist stand.
► To analyze the way the female body is
To study the dialogues to find out if they
are gender biased
► To analyze the position of the female
characters in different scenes and in
► To analyze the similarities among all the
films i.e. the plot, the situations and
► Sampling is one of the important steps in
research. For the project, the researcher selected
three popular Hindi films► Murder,
► Jism and
► All the three films have certain common elements
because of which they were chosen for the studyexplicit depiction of sex, infidelity and extramarital
affair. Also because in all the films the lead female
character is subject to ‘the male gaze’.
► The method is dramatistic analysis, based
on the work of Kenneth Burke. Although
Burke can be read as a theoretician of
drama, he was adamant that drama
provided a methodological key to the study
of symbolic action. Burke’s method begins
by breaking down a story into its essential
The analysis isolates and identifies all
characters in each film. How is the individual
actor portrayed in the film?
The pattern of action within each
episode-the plot-is examined for its logic and
assumptions, origins and conclusions
The analysis notes the setting of the
serials. What is the scene like-friendly or
forbidding, foreign or familiar? Does the scene
play a role in the action? If so, in what way? Is
the individual scene placed in a larger context?
Dramatism studies the
motivations and intentions of the actors.
Does the film portray the purposes in
positive, negative, or neutral terms, or not at
The study examines the means,
tools and channels that the actors use to
pursue their intentions. Gestures, actions,
Rationale of the study
Women are portrayed in cinema in a stereotypical, often
sexist and usually impossible way. And although the world
would remain sexist even without films, the medium does
open up a whole new door for people to gaze through, and
believe what they see. Cinema allows people to see more
things and so choose what they want to be – but
unfortunately that choice for girls is often one full of
impossible contradictions in what they are shown, meaning
that films perhaps confuses further an issue which it could
help to resolve with more equal and less stereotypical
portrayals of women.
The researcher felt women deserved a better deal and that
the portrayal of the female body as a ‘sexual object’ was an
area that needed to be studied.
The study had to be limited to only three
films because of time constraint.
The study had to be restricted to the
portrayal of only the female body due to
► Sudhir (Ashmit Patel) and Simran (Mallika
Sherawat) are a happy couple settled in Bangkok.
Workaholic Sudhir ignores his wife. In an alien
land and novel atmosphere Simran gets terribly
bored and a chance meeting with an old flame
(Emraan Hashmi) ends up in a passionate
relationship as they become emotionally and
► At this point, Sudhir decides to confront Sunny but
this meeting leads to some shocking revelations.
► Sonia Khanna (Bipasha Basu) and Kabir Lal
(John Abraham) are illicit lovers conspiring
against the former's minted husband Rohit
(Gulshan Grover) in between singing and
romping around together in the sweltering
heat, ultimately Sonia turning out to be
traitor to Kabir.
► A millionaire Raj (Dino Morea) hiring a
casanova Ricky (Emraan) to have an affair
with his wife Sheena Roy (Udita Goswami),
the millionaire-husband then catching the
wife red-handed with the other guy , the wife
not regretting her decision leads the
husband to manage the casanova killed by
the wife and getting rid of her.
► Women in these movies are shown as
erotic objects only, in the eyes of the
male viewers whose castration anxiety is
reinforced throughout the three films.
► The lead male in all the three movies have
been shown as a playboy reinforcing the
audiences thought of unification with the
exposure of women in all the
three movies is woven into a
Interest - Restraint - Interest
Front projection ,
then back or side projection,
then again front ,
then back projection fully.
the central lady character’s
body is exposed , and then they show
the lady in extra marital love affair,
illicit love making action.
► In all the three movies, seduction
scenes or bed scenes have been
given extra importance, making them
the central point of interest.
Jism = 2.53 Secs.
Murder = 2.24 Secs.
Aksar = 1.21 Secs.
most of the films (not all,
exception, Jism) Aksar, Murder-there is a tendency to establish the
lead heroine as an erotic object.
In Murder - it is done at 1.18 to
The viewers before getting
to know the names of the characters
get to see Udita Guswami or Mallika
Sheawat’s body parts.
inner wears are shown in two
movies, Murder and Aksar
as savior = Murder - Whenever the
lead woman Simran is in crisis, a man
comes to save are.
► The films give a message that
good essentially . They are at least
morally good. He’s not shown as villain,
rather as an anti-hero only.
► There is assertion of the
of women’s motherhood and the role
of wife, rather than asserting her as
woman only. Murder shows this, Aksar
► Seduction scenes describe men as
aggressive. Women only allowing to do in
► Women are there , in every film, to take
Duplicacy of women - is shown in full vigour.
Women are shown as an object, commodity throughout the
narrative of the film Aksar.
They are only photo images to be sold
( Time Scale=4: 11, 5: 14, 6: 57 etc )
► Women are dependent to man for their survival. In
Aksar ,Sheena is continuously depending on her
husband or in Ricky. In Jism also Sonia is seen
using the male strength time and again.
Women are vulnerable In Murder, Simran is shown allowing herself
almost all the time to the will of the male characters especially Sunny’s.
In Aksar , it is shown that Sheena is almost a puppet in the
clutches of both her husband and the lover.
In every film the women are shown in negative shades, either
as vulnerable or as villainous.
In Murder and Aksar, they are vulnerable, under the shadows of
dominant male characters, and in Jism they make the men as puppets.
In all the three films, the women are hardly shown as
Among the three films, women are shown as subordinate in two
films, Murder and Aksar. (Sheena, Simraan and Nisha).
They are no equals to men in any case. Only Jism shows women
as superior, but that is also shown with enough of negativity.
► The filmmakers should be more
concentrated to portray women impartially,
without any gender bias.
► Survey researches should be done on the
► Studies can be done, on feminist film
maker’s films, like Aparna Sen’s, Meera
Nair’s, Deepa Mehta’s and so on.
► Studies can be done taking films from
different genres also.