Boyhood, Ideology, and Popular Hindi Cinema

Saayan Chattopadhyay
  • Thymos Journal of Boyhood Studies, October 2011, Berghahn Journals
  • DOI: 10.3149/thy.0502.138

Boyhood, Ideology and Popular Hindi Cinema

What is it about?

Popular cinema in India has been identified as rich cultural texts for understanding the legitimization of ideological and political hegemony through narrative-cinematic forms, popular in the postcolonial Indian public sphere. An impressive number of literature have explored the various trajectories of discourses regarding the postcolonial nation-state, family and the iconic presence of the mother as these cross-influence the narrative organization of the popular Hindi cinema. However, representation of boyhood within the specific narrative and visual rhetoric of popular Hindi cinema received little attention of the scholars. This essay attempts to trace the representation of boyhood and adolescence— first, as predominantly integrated within the narrative of the male protagonist’s early life— a popular cinematic trope in 1970s and 1980s, which interestingly enough, has somewhat disappeared from the post-liberalization-Hindi cinema; and second, as a discursively formed narrative agent with its specific ideological and psychological notions. Drawing analogies from a range of Indian literary works on/for children, I explore how such cinematic tropes reiterate and negotiate ideological and social codes interlacing gender, sexuality, class and caste, nevertheless concomitantly creating fissures for subaltern agency.

Why is it important?

This essay engages with the notion of boyhood in popular Hindi cinema to explore its shifting nature, parallel to the changing socio-political and economic milieu of this postcolonial nation-state.


Saayan Chattopadhyay
Baruipur College

Drawing from popular Hindi films this essay attempted show that the ideology, pedagogy, and normativity which invested in the notion of childhood and especially boyhood in the colonial period in India, subsequently with the political and socio-economic changes, continue to define, albeit in a discrete manner, the contemporary discourse on family and boyhood in India.

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