Presentation Title

The Portrayal of Westerners in Indian Cinema

Start Date

November 2016

End Date

November 2016

Location

HUB 268

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Abstract

Brought to India by the British during the colonial era, cinema has become one of the landmarks of modern India. Ironically, the portrayal of Westerners in Indian films is divided between contempt and admiration. The purpose of this presentation is to explore how Bollywood films from 1967 to 2006 have portrayed Westerners based on the historical and social contexts of India. A number of films show Indian protagonists traveling to the West in hopes of leading a life of riches in that promising land, but these characters nearly always encounter the corruption and immorality that seems to characterize those developed nations. The protagonists then return to their motherland, realizing that it is the only true home they will ever have, based on its strongly embedded values and culture. Despite this embrace of India as the motherland, there is a paradoxical calling in India to become more westernized, whether it be in language or culture. Some films go as far as to suggest that certain reforms, such as divorce, commonly accepted in the West, should be more tolerated in India to advance the country as a whole. The influence of the colonial era during British rule and the violent revolution for independence that followed may have shaped India to expose the West through film in a less than favorable way, but its aspirations to become a world power has led it to follow in the steps of the West and view it as an inspiration and model for its future.

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Nov 12th, 11:45 AM Nov 12th, 12:00 PM

The Portrayal of Westerners in Indian Cinema

HUB 268

Brought to India by the British during the colonial era, cinema has become one of the landmarks of modern India. Ironically, the portrayal of Westerners in Indian films is divided between contempt and admiration. The purpose of this presentation is to explore how Bollywood films from 1967 to 2006 have portrayed Westerners based on the historical and social contexts of India. A number of films show Indian protagonists traveling to the West in hopes of leading a life of riches in that promising land, but these characters nearly always encounter the corruption and immorality that seems to characterize those developed nations. The protagonists then return to their motherland, realizing that it is the only true home they will ever have, based on its strongly embedded values and culture. Despite this embrace of India as the motherland, there is a paradoxical calling in India to become more westernized, whether it be in language or culture. Some films go as far as to suggest that certain reforms, such as divorce, commonly accepted in the West, should be more tolerated in India to advance the country as a whole. The influence of the colonial era during British rule and the violent revolution for independence that followed may have shaped India to expose the West through film in a less than favorable way, but its aspirations to become a world power has led it to follow in the steps of the West and view it as an inspiration and model for its future.