UGS 303 Bollywood India and After
February 27, 2014
In the post-independence era of Indian cinema, nothing was discussed and/or debated about more than the prohibition of kissing in films. Although there was no formal ban of kissing that existed, it was based mostly on an “unwritten rule” that since kissing was seen as a sign of westerness (i.e. Hollywood films) to allow it in Bollywood films would dissolve Indian culture. However, author Madhava Prasad argues that kissing was banned not because of a presumed censorship of western codes, but instead because of a need to shore up the ideologies of the extended family and/or clan. In other words, Prasad believes that the ban on kissing is about securing the extended family and that the “preserve Indian culture” reasoning was just invented to justify the ban. I personally argue that Prasad’s argument is correct and plan to elaborate on it through the use of the Bollywood film Waqt.
To begin with, Prasad states that there are several ways films negotiate the prohibition on kissing on screen, the first being to “stage the prohibition itself.” An example of this would be when lovers move towards each other for a kiss and then suddenly, the camera fades away and prevents, not the actual kiss itself, but the viewer from seeing it occur. The second way of negotiating the prohibition Prasad argues is to “thematize the prohibition as a cultural truth and duty” (Prasad 80). Prasad believes that by doing this, one would be inscribing the prohibition within the represented content, rather than treating it as a political act of curtailment (Prasad 90). Prasad’s third and final way that one could negotiate the prohibition of kissing is ...
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...ationships, rather than the couple themselves. For example, if a couple were to kiss in a film, many viewers would suddenly believe that the couples’ relationship is much more important than any other familial relationship. This is why the director does not allow the Ravi and Meena to kiss in Waqt because he wanted to emphasize that although the couple might have strong feelings for each other, the overall objective for the film that involves the family reuniting in the end is much more important. This is why many Bollywood films end with the family and/or couple joining the extended family rather than leaving it. Lastly in Bollywood films such as Waqt, the extended family represents a marker of stability and ritual (Muzumdar 212). It serves as the only source of identity for some individuals and as most people know, without identity, one simply cannot survive.