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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Framing marriage : subtitle consumption, morality and sexuality in Hum Aapke Hain Kaun Srinivas, Monisha K


In this thesis, I argue that the 1994 Bollywood film Hum Aapke Haiti Kaun (Who am I to You?), is framed by an apparent middle-class desire to reinscribe caste and class purity. I argue that the ritual of marriage enshrines the commodity and gives it a larger visual appeal that needs to be understood in the context of India's economic liberalization of the nineties. The narrative reflects the normative role cinema can play in shaping ideas about religion, politics and economics in contemporary India. In order to interrogate the Bollywood film's tendency to homogenize Indian cultural experience, the thesis also investigates resistant films such as Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding (2001), and Deepa Mehta's Fire (1996). Also, I demonstrate how national print media and women's magazines in particular reinforce stereotypes about marriage in the globalized economy. Hum Aapke Hain Kaun's opulent visual spectacle functioned as a marker of class and became a symbol of self-representation of that class as well. This thesis engages with debates about the construction of nation, family and women. The thesis presents specific examples from Hum Aapke Hain Kaun and the resonance it has within public debates about morality and sexuality including the work of artist M.F. Hussain. It also argues that the film is a visual endorsement of the fundamentalist and exclusive ideas Hindutva (militant Hindu nationalism) was trying to perpetuate in the highly visible public spheres of the Nation.

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