This study analyzes the lopsided relationship between gender and caste and the intertwining body politics in select Bollywood films. Bandit Queen (1994) and Article 15 (2019) are films that depict marginalized Dalit women—victims of (s)exploitation and twofold oppressions of graded patriarchy. Based upon real incidents, Bandit Queen tells the tale of Phoolan Devi who is gang-raped by the upper caste Thakur Shri Ram and his clans of the village while Article 15 takes recourse to the gruesome Badayun rape case of 2014 and presents the murder and possible rape of two lower caste young girls. In both the films, the marginalized women are imprisoned and ghettoized in the “mutual bracketing” (Guru 112) of caste and gender. Their bodies thus become the ploys of the power dynamics of a caste-ridden society. The body is to be captured, controlled, and incarcerated by both the apparatus of hegemonic masculinity and the hierarchical ladder of the caste system. Dalit women’s bodies are the territories that are to be possessed through the weapons of sexual violence; the gang rape “perpetrated by the conquerors is a metonymic celebration of territorial acquisition” (Spivak 303). Within the framework triad of caste studies, gender studies, and body politics studies, this paper investigates dynamics of power through a detailed analysis of the films and aims to point out whether and how the films make any differentiations from the real incidents. These films produce socially conscious visual landscapes directed at a society that horridly bears spectacular and brutal realities that are often swept under the rug.

Author Biography

Bidisha Pal is a Research Scholar at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences (English), Indian Institute of Technology (ISM) Dhanbad. Her areas of interest are Translation Studies, Dalit Literature, and Subaltern Studies. She has publications in journals including The Translator, South Asian Popular Culture, Journal of Ethnography and Folklore, and Rupkatha Journal on Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities, along with two book chapters with Routledge.

Partha Bhattacharjee works as an Assistant Professor of English, Amity Institute of English Studies & Research, Amity University Patna. He obtained his Ph.D. (English) from IIT Patna in 2019. His research interests include South Asian Literature, Gender Studies, Comics Studies, and Translation Studies. Apart from two book chapters with Routledge (UK), his work has been published in reputed journals including The Translator, Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics (Taylor & Francis), and IUP Journal of English Studies.

Priyanka Tripathi works as an Associate Professor of English in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Patna. Her work has been published in Geo Humanities, Journal of International Women's Studies, Asiatic: IIUM Journal of English Language and Literature, Rupkatha Journal on Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities, and Indian Literature (Sahitya Akademi). She is the Reviews Editor of Rupkatha. She works in Indian Writing in English, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Literary Censorship.