Crossing the Pale: Representations of White Western Women in Indian Film and Media

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Jann Dark


In this paper I focus on the way the white Western woman is scripted into two recent Indian films, and show how colonial discourses still affect the way she is represented today in Indian media. More than just a simple plot device, her usevalue in partnership or sexual relations to the Indian male protagonist, rests upon two points: one, the power she represents due to her position as a signifier of Western economic forces, two, her projection as seductress and victim in colonialist discourses that characterised the Indian male as effeminate and rapacious of English women. The films I will discuss are: Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (Dir.Ashutosh Gowariker, 2001) and Rang de Basanti: A Generation Awakens (Dir.Rakeysh Omprakesh Mehra, 2006). I will also look at an advertisement for an Indian clothing company.

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