Debadrita Chakraborty


Debadrita Chakraborty is an Assistant Professor at the School of Liberal Studies, UPES, India. She is a Charles Wallace Fellow and an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, UK. Her primary research lies at the intersections of Cultural Theory, Gender and South Asian Literary Studies. She has published articles and essays in the fields of South Asian culture, politics and literature, graphic fiction, gender studies and diaspora studies in reputed journals, including Gender, Work and Organization and Wasifiri and books titled Graphic Novels as World Literature and Living Theories and True Ideas in the 21st Century Reflections on Marxism and Decolonisation. Currently, she is co-editing a two-part volume titled Right Wing Politics: Interdisciplinary Reflections on South Asia and a special issue on partition.


This paper aims to examine the (mis)representation or the lack thereof of agency and subjectivity of motherhood in contemporary mainstream Hindi cinema. The paper begins by exploring the trajectory of mothering and motherhood in Hindi cinema from the 1950s onwards and dwells upon how contemporary mainstream cinema seldom highlight female subjectivity, her psycho-social identity concomitant to motherhood. By examining the concepts of the ‘patriarchal feminine’, ‘new mothers’, ‘feminist fathers’ and mother-child relationships in contemporary mainstream Hindi films, the paper aims to portray reasons why the concept of motherhood continues to remain under-developed in India and the possible ways in which cinematic representations of motherhood should evolve and accommodate to represent the voice and agency of mothers and in doing so honour those desires and subjectivities that have thus far been invisibilised and supressed by mainstream Hindi cinema’s patriarchal constructs. 

Can Bollywood mothers speak: Exploring motherhood agency and subjectivity in mainstream Hindi Cinema

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