Patriarchy in Assamese Cinema: An Analysis of Bhabendra Nath Saikia and Jahnu Barua's Films

Patriarchy in Assamese Cinema: An Analysis of Bhabendra Nath Saikia and Jahnu Barua's Films

Trisha Dowerah Baruah (School of Mass Communication, Krishna Kanta Handiqui State Open University, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3511-0.ch009

Abstract

Cinema is said to be one of the most important and influential social institutions of our time. The Indian film industry, for instance, is the biggest in the world, churning out dozens of films belonging to different genres every year. A good movie is always characterised by a well-written script, right direction, brilliant acting, and use of mind-blowing visual effects whenever necessary. Very often, the protagonist of the films would be essayed by a male artist while the woman would play second fiddle. However, times are changing and women have come to occupy an important place as far as the depictions of such issues are concerned. In this chapter, the study concentrates on the portrayal of women in some of the prominent films of two prolific filmmakers of Assam: Dr Bhabendranath Saikia and Mr Jahnu Barua. Both these filmmakers' cinematic oeuvres portray the plight of women functioning within various incarnations of patriarchy in different historical temporalities.
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Genesis Of The Portrayal Of Women In Indian Films

Cinema is said to be one of the most important and influential social institutions of our time. It has grown to be a standard reference point for most kinds of discourses or discussions(Dyer, Hill & Gibson, 2000). The Indian film industry, for instance, is the biggest in the world churning out dozens of films belonging to different genres every year. Apart from the mainstream Hindi movies, regional cinema is also doing a flourishing business with many of the art films grabbing numerous International awards at various film festivals across the globe. Some of the prominent regional film industries include those of Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Bengali, Punjabi, Marathi and Assamese film industry. A good film is always characterised by a well-written script, right direction, brilliant acting and use of mind-blowing visual effects whenever necessary. People are always looking for stories that would pull at their heartstrings, stories that would bring a social-cultural change in society and focus more on socially relevant issues. Very often, the protagonist of the films would be essayed by a male while the woman would play second fiddle. However, times are changing, and women have come to occupy an important place as far as depiction of such issues is concerned (Thoraval, 2000).

Alam Ara (1931) did have a more significant role for a female. Achyutkanya (1936) challenged the constraints of casteism while highlighting individual desire. Interestingly the film throws light on the love affair between a Dalit woman(Played by Devika Rani)and that of a Brahmin hero (played by Ashok Kumar). And who can forget the iconic scene in Mother India (1957) when Nargis shoots her son to save Radha(a character) from being kidnapped by him. All these show women in path-breaking roles that might have been impossible to foresee in the early and late 30s. Nevertheless, women have always looked as mere objects, and their characters have reprised to show them as a traditional Indian woman whose role confined with the four walls of the house.

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