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Friday, June 10, 2011

Iconic Female Characters in Hindi Cinema part 1: introduction

Ira of Old Is Gold joined us for a long—and we mean looong—conversation about iconic female characters in Hindi cinema. In this introductory segment, we discuss a few fictional filmi women who are icons to us, as well as cinematic iterations of the Bharatiya Nari ("Indian woman," for our non-Hindi-speaking friends). Future segments will move roughly chronologically through the twentieth century and into today's films, investigating memorable and representative female characters like Fearless Nadia, Radha of Mother India, Bobby, and Simran.

The opening music in this episode is courtesy of Paresh of the Curry Smugglers. As you will hear, it's a clip of a mix of MIA's "Galang" and "Mehbooba Mehbooba" from Sholay. According to Paresh, it's "from a bootleg by a DJ named Sunit out of parts unknown. It's the only remix that MIA has blessed on the bootleg circuit, probably because of its inherent coolness factor."

You can listen to Masala Zindabad: Female Icons by clicking the player above, subscribing to our feed, on iTunes or downloading hereThe upcoming parts of this series are here:
2: Fearless Nadia, Chhoti Bahu, Sujata
3:  Mother India, Seeta, Geeta, and Bobby
4: Chandni, Simran, Geet – and Sid wakes up 


  1. I'm looking forward to the next instalment! I do tend to agree that the female stereotypes have colonised television where the hero stereotypes dominate films. A simplistic view I know but I keep hearing the very broad generalisation that Indian TV is for the housewives and cinema is for the 20-something guys and sometimes that seems about right.
    Amrita - I so agree with you about that scene in Paa. It was out of kilter with the rest of her character and really seemed like a sop to the censors or whatever to offset all her other behaviours. And don't get me started on the death bed marriage. Still, she did have a lovely selection of saris so from a viewer perspective it wasn't all bad.
    Temple ( I can't sign in as me, so used my blog address)

  2. Hey Temple :) What drives me so batty is that the gender divide of TV and Film is so completely nuts, esp in this era of multiplexes and internet tv, etc. I'm sure men would like to see TV too and women love cinema (um, say hello to MZ). I don't understand why nobody even attempts to experiment.

    Yeah, her sarees were pretty much the only saving grace. The hospital bed marriage was just inexplicable. It was like at the last moment, they decided this was a completely different movie from the one they'd just made.

  3. It was nice to hear Ira's (bollyviewer) voice, I have been following her blog for over a year. Great choice of topic, and I am very interested in the next installments.
    I also liked the "Going to the Movies" section, and could identify with several incidents. Growing up I have seen BWood movies in Poona, Bombay, Tehran, Madras, Nashville & NYC; and always had a lot of fun.
    And yes, I am going over Beth & Amrita's blogs as well, and find them extremely interesting.

  4. Hi Samir, and welcome! You should send us a GttM!

  5. I'm finally chipping away at all of the Masala Zindabad podcasts. LOVE hearing you all discuss things. :)
    All the best!

  6. Wouldn't it perhaps be better to have watched the movie a little before the podcast so there's better recall? When you sound vague about certain things and one hears a lot of "I think", "...something like that", it does beg the question why not have done a more recent viewing before a podcast...?

  7. Yes, it would. Unfortunately, pragmatics (like day jobs!) don't always line up to make that possible. This particular topic was the hardest one to prepare for because we talk about so many films. I hope you'll listen to some episodes centered on just one film and see if you think we are sharper on the details for those (although I know I am fuzzy on some plot points in Aa Gale Lag Jaa, for example, and even say in the recording that I think it's hard to keep the ins and outs of a Manmohan Desai film entirely straight).