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Sunday, February 16, 2014

CIA 3 - A Feminist approach on the Sandalwood Cinema - Kiran Bedi

Angelo Savio Pereira

1324103 / 2nd Sem. M.A English

Mass Communication / MEL 235

Prof. Anil Joseph Pinto and Prof. Vijayaganesh       


A Feminist approach on the Sandalwood Cinema - Kiran Bedi


Abstract: Cinema is meant and believed to entertain, to take the viewer to a world that is starkly different from the real one, a world which provides escape from the daily grind of life. Cinema is a popular media of mass consumption which plays a key role in moulding opinions, constructing images and reinforcing dominant cultural values. The paper deals with representations of the woman, in the mainstream Sandalwood movie - ‘Kiran Bedi'. It is deemed appropriate to examine this issue because women are a major chunk of the country's population and hence their portrayal on screen is crucial in determining the furtherance of already existing stereotypes in the society. The paper begins with a discussion on the field of feminist film criticism and how mainstream Kannda Cinema has restricted itself to define sketches of womanhood.


Feminism though mostly considered as a social theory is more of a post-colonial and psychoanalytical theory which has had an enormous impact on film theory and criticism. Feminist scholars began applying the new theories arising from these movements to analyzing films. Initial attempts in the United States in the early 1970’s were generally based on sociological theory and focused on the function of women characters in particular film narratives or genres and of stereotypes as a reflection of a society's view of women.


Cinema is taken by feminists to be a cultural practice representing myths about women and femininity, as well as about men and masculinity. Issues of representation and spectatorship are central to feminist film theory and criticism. Early feminist criticism was directed at stereotypes of women in mediums like advertisements (print and electronic), in films etc. The image of woman portrayed in various old Kannada movies were that of a 'sacrificer', culturally exploited woman. Such fixed and endlessly repeated images of women were considered to be objectionable as they presented them as mutes who could probably have a negative impact on the female spectator as and these lacked strength and righteousness; hence, the call for positive images of women in cinema. However Omprakash Rao’s ‘Kannada Kiran Bedi’ proved to be a milestone were the image of woman was elevated from a sufferer to an achiever bringing pride for the state.


The article would speak about the magnification of a woman’s ability in a state like Karnataka were women are considered weak. The fiction goes against Jacques Lacan theory in which the woman is considered as ‘lack’. The cinema gives its viewers a completely different idea of a woman. Her strength and capabilities are projected to a great extent. The feminist movie is about a lady IPS Officer, who is as bold and strong as a man and uses her abilities to rid the city of Bangalore from dirt like corruption and criminals. The lady officer indicates the new avatar of the women in the state. It motivates the other women to be bold and courageous so that they can change the image of a woman from the ‘weak’ and ‘oppressed’ that everyone has about an Indian Woman.


The story has no connection with the real life incidents that happened in the life of the much celebrated Delhi based Police officer Kiran Bedi. However Om Prakash Rao has retained his reputation as the remix specialist through this film. Kiran Bedi has the story which is a mix of several non Kannada films and it has been largely influenced by the Telugu film 'Vikramarkudu'. Nevertheless Kiran Bedi has elements which can appeal to the mass audience. The film's strength is the action sequences which have been choreographed with rich production values. And the film's fast pace is certain to enthuse the audience. Though the story lacks any original link, the narration is filled with commercial elements. Malashri still remains the same level of enthusiasm which elevated her to stardom many years ago. Even now she looks like a Lady Amithabh with her daring stunts. Ashish Vidyarthi scores much in the role of Bhoopathy, the main villain. Veterans Rangayana Raghu, Sreenivasa Murthy, Suchayeendra Prasad have done very well in their respective roles.


The paper consists of few scenes in which a clear feminist idea has been depicted and analysed. In the beginning the story, the officer Kiran Bedi is busy in clearing cases. She uses her power and abilities to take down petty thieves, single handed. The fights were basically for entertainment, however, the single handed fight portray a very significant message of a woman’s capabilities. A woman, if dedicated can do much more than a man even though she is considered weak and dependent. She uses her weakness as her strength to get what she aims for. The movie also aims at promoting the Karnataka Police and creates an image of respect for the Department.


The movie focuses on the lady top cop, who is totally against illegal activities and does wonderfully well in her career. The cop is sent to the city of Bangalore, where majority of the criminal activities take place. She is sent there mainly to bring down a notorious gang that are involved in various criminal activities like narcotics, murder, theft etc. The cop finds it difficult to bring their activities to an end because they hold a lot of power in their hands. However, she squeezes in and cuts some strings to take them down. Her talents and bravery help her immensely to achieve her target. There is a scene in which the main villain Bhoopathy delivers a sexist remark, what can a woman do to us? When the government itself is in our hands, why should they fear a useless woman cop? The statements said, symbolise the typical Indian attitude of the society about women of the country. The idea of making the woman as the weaker sex has led the country into following the same and hence all women are considered inferior. It is very difficult for a man to accept that a woman can do much more than he is able to do.  


In the movie, the antagonist’s Bhoopathy’s son is a rapist and a murderer. He walks into any place he likes and picks beautiful women and rapes them. The man is truly anti-feminine and a disgrace to the society. There is no respect shown to the women and they are treated like vegetables or cattle. However Kiran, makes it clear to all the viewers that women are no more those helpless beings. They are capable and hence she creates an emergency forum where women can post their problems directly to her. At the end she gives him a brutal death only to indicate the power of a woman and any person who tries to oppress a woman will be dealt with severely.       


At the end of the movie, a lady who looks similar to Kiran Bedi manages to wipe the city off all the rot. The original Kiran Bedi does her best to clear the city, but is killed by the gangsters. However, her twin, an unknown woman completes her work. Symbolically, the movie indicates that it is not just that single woman (Kiran Bedi) who had the skill to get rid of all the evil in the society, but all women who possess the will and the ambition can do what they aim for and build a new identity in the society, just as the lady cop Kiran Bedi.


The researcher would concluded by saying all similar movies that focus on empowerment of woman have greatly changed the stereotype that the society has on the Indian Women. It is now the duty of each woman to live up to the idea and build on it, so that the image of the woman does not go back to, the ancient stereotype of woman being the ‘weak’ ‘helpless’ and ‘oppressed’ sex.




Rao, Om Prakash, dir. Kiran Bedi. Prod. Ramu Enterprises, 2009. Film. 16 Jan 2014.


Fuery, Patrick, and Kelli Fuery. "The Image as Rhizome." Trans. Array Visual Cultures and Critical Theory. Great Britain: Oxford University Press Inc., 2003. Print.


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