Research proposal The topic of this proposed research paper is: The film “Water” is characteristic of contemporary films made for the “love of cinema” , contravening the trend in post colonial cinema on the origin of oppression of women. The objective of this study would be to examine the oppression of widows portrayed in the film “Water”, to demonstrate that it is contrary to the image of oppression of women that was portrayed in post colonial cinema, i.e, as originating from colonial rule. The film Water gives rise to a new wave of thought about the origin of oppression of women in India in the post colonial context, i.e, that the source of the oppression lies in the cherished ritualistic traditions of Hinduism. In this vein, it sets a new tradition that rises in contrast to the one established in Hollywood post colonial films such as This study will delve into the importance of the patriarchal view in Indian films, which traditionally have depicted women as the victims of domination and oppression by men. Contemporary feminist theory will be applied, specifically deconstruction and patriarchal binary thought as applied in the context of the portrayal of women in films from the third world. Some of the feminists whose views on these theories will be detailed in this study include Helene Cixous who has relied upon western philosophy and thinking to show that the application of the binary mode of thinking almost invariably places the women in a subordinate role – as the passive one, the
weaker one, the emotional one and the powerless one (Moi, 1985L 104-5). This was earlier highlighted by classical feminist theorists such as Mary Ellman through the example of Virginia Woolf’s “A room of one’s own” which highlighted the social and political context that automatically placed women in a subordinate position. Additionally, this research study will also examine post colonial feminist theories applied in the context of film making and will take into account, the views of feminist theories such as Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Sara Mills. Spivak in her article titled “can the subaltern speak?”, she has highlighted the fact that most perception of feminist thought is from a European perspective and rarely takes into account writings from the third world countries. In this context, the film “Water” will be explored, to demonstrate how it could constitute an example of the subaltern actually speaking, since through her film, Mehta has pushed into the realm of feminist thought, an issue relating to oppression of women that is relevant only to Hindu society. Mehta herself represents the eastern perspective in the West, just like actors Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das. The film serves to highlight the third world from a perspective different from the traditional representation of colonialism in film, i.e, as the cause for all evils. The significance of the film “Water” will be explored in depth, especially in the context of patriarchal binary thought, wherein women are forced to remain passive in order to exist and have an identity and place in society. Through the very subduing and suppression of initiative and fiery spirit in women, the patriarchal patterns of society are retained. This is especially important in the context of the film “Water”, because the underlying view in the film arises in stark contrast to the underlying message propagated through post colonial films, which have tended to lay most of the blame for oppression in post colonial India at the door of the colonial masters. This film however shows that the Gandhian principles which so strongly supported Hinduism however harboured a serpent, i.e, oppression of women under the guise of religious beliefs of Hinduism. This research study will also deal with the controversy surrounding the film “Water” by the local population and the Indian Government, because the story line strikes at the very root of Indian tradition, which had become especially important in the post colonial period, with the national pride that was being propagated by Mahatma Gandhi. It will detail the difficulties that the film’s Director Deepa Mehta experienced, wherein the conflicts were so violent that people even burnt down one of the locations proposed for the film because the film espouses the cause of widows and shows how cruelly they were treated. It only serves to highlight how the source of oppression may lie in the religion and long cherished traditions of the country itself and how radical feminist thought is expressed through the voice of film in Deepa Mehta’s “Water”. Annotated Bibliography Moi, Toril, 1985. “Sexual/textual Politics: Feminist Literary Theory”, Routledge. This book offers a detailed exposition of two main areas in feminist criticism, the Anglo-American and the French view, which in turn provides an orientation into the political and theoretical origins and orientation of feminist thought. Woolf, Virginia, 1989. “A room of one’s own”, Mariner Books. The book comprises a long essay by Woolf on the lower status accorded to women in her day in the literary area, especially in terms of University education, as well as English society and sexism. The views expressed in this book are significant because they highlight the plight of women and formed the origins of feminist thought. Morris, Rosalind C, 2010. (Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty, 2010). “Can the subaltern speak?” IN “Can the subaltern speak? Reflections on the history of an idea”, Columbia University Press, pp 21-86 This book details the article by Spivak on the absence of third world thought in feminist literature and the self critical presentation of women in all literary and art forms. It also contains other essays that reflect more deeply on the arguments and propositions put forward by the author in her path breaking essay, on the need to give voice to the underlying, repressed true voice of women.