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.
Pal, Bidisha; Bhattacharjee, Partha; and Tripathi, Priyanka
Gendered and Casteist Body: Cast(e)ing and Castigating the Female Body in select Bollywood Films.
Journal of International Women's Studies, 22(10), 57-67.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol22/iss10/6