How common is lesbianism in India

In the shadow of 1001 nights - Deepa Mehta's "Fire"

Table of Contents


state of research

Methods and structure

I. main part
1. Deepa Mehta
1.1 Vita
1.2 Filmography
2. Contemporary Indian cinema
2.1 Bollywood and the Indian film industry
2.2 Censorship
2.3 Dissemination
2.4 Reception in India
2.5 Reception in the west
3. Film analysis: Fire (1996)
3.1 Reality of conditions: origin and background
3.1.1 Personal Conditions
3.1.2 Historical conditions
3.1.3 The Indian diaspora cinema
3.2 The film reality and its reference reality
3.2.1 Film plot and dramaturgy
3.2.2 Social framework Tradition, religion, caste system Urban life Family The relationship between women Marriage Sexuality
3.2.3 Figures Women Men
3.2.4 Character interactions Woman Man Ms. Ms. Figure developments
3.3 Reality of effects: reactions to the film in India and in the West
3.3.1 Reactions in the West
3.3.2 Reactions in India

II. Final part
1. Results
1.1 Film and Reality
1.2 Source criticism
2. Outlook: changing society

III. appendix
1. Staged film analysis by Fire
2. Bibliography


"Cinema functions significantly in narrating nations and producing national identities ... When films such as Fire ... do not conform to these expectations, they are rendered illegible or primitive in dominant national and international discourses." (Desai 2004: 36)

In the spring of 2004 I happened to see an Indian film on television. My initially superficial sympathy soon turned into a peculiar fascination: This film - with the German title “In good as in difficult days” - was so different from all the films I had known up to then that I could not avoid it. The film lasted a good three hours and it threw me through an entertaining rollercoaster of emotions.

Since then I've seen a lot of Indian films. Most of the films that make their way from India to Germany come from “Bollywood”, the film industry in Bombay. They represent the Indian mainstream and are always structured according to a similar pattern, in which a lot of dance and music should not be missing.

It soon struck me that not only the same dramaturgical elements are repeated over and over again, but also stereotypical role models. Together with the musicals and exotic dance shows that have been touring major cities for a number of years, the Bollywood films create an image of India and its society that must appear like paradise to many viewers and, above all, viewers.[1]

Bollywood fans often develop an interest in India as a country, want to travel there and experience the exoticism and romance of the films firsthand. You thus provide impressive evidence of the quote from Jigna Desai at the beginning of this work. The predominantly female Bollywood fans like to dress “Indian” with traditional saris or Indian accessories, shop in Indian and Pakistani grocery stores, maintain a Bollywood cinema tourism in Germany and are networked in Internet forums. They celebrate the traditional Hindu festivals even though they are not Hindus. The India of the German fans thus becomes a projection of a projection: The colorful Bollywood melodramas generate - from a rich cultural fundus - the modern fairy tales from the Arabian Nights, in which dreams of oriental exoticism and immortal love still come true. But these tales do not show real life, either in India or in any other country. Rather, the Bollywood films obscure the view of a reality that is much more sobering and in which there are no princesses carried by their princes:

"The average European (...) knows about India ... very little. But even the average traveler to India (.) Is all too stuck in the clichés. In Vienna the Lipizzaner and Schonbrunn - in India the elephants and the Taj Mahal. The journeys take place ... in the head, and reality falls by the wayside. ”(Emmer 1997: 10)

In this cultural-scientific and film-analytical work, I will pursue this reality in the shadow of the Arabian Nights, in the shadow of the Bollywood fairytale commerce.

The medium of film should nevertheless form the window for viewing, because apart from the publicly high gloss fantasies of mainstream cinema, there are films that show a different India.

Fire by Deepa Mehta is one such film. When Fire was released in theaters in India in November 1998, it quickly evoked a - politically directed - storm of indignation. The director was insulted as a polluter and threatened with death. Deepa Mehta had dared to break taboos by shaking the monuments of Indian society - family and marriage - dismantling the image of the patriarch and encouraging women to go their own way, apart from submission to them man-made tradition.

For this investigation, I will take a deeper look into urban Indian society through the window of the film Fire. Within the viewing section, I will explicitly pursue the question of what the film Fire about the living conditions of[2] Testifying women in urban middle class society in India. For this purpose, I will work out the central statements of the film by means of a film analysis and relate these statements to scientific findings about Indian society. In doing so, I will consider the film-dramaturgical aspects of Indian cinema.

First, I will briefly report on the methodology used for film analysis, before introducing some general basics about contemporary Indian cinema and the work of Deepa Mehta to the actual film analysis in the main part of the work in the provided short.

For the sake of legibility and content-related stringency, I will talk in the main part about the role models determined in the analysis, the character interaction and the established relationships to reality, while the complete scenic analysis is in the appendix. I will place the results of the scenic film analysis in relation to the researched literary sources.

In the final part I will present and evaluate the results of the analysis with regard to the question of this work.

state of research

The comprehensive framework of the research field is formed on the one hand by Indian film as a national art form and - in contrast to the exemplary object of observation - in particular Bollywood, and on the other hand by cultural-ethnological, cultural-historical and social-scientific research on the situation of women in India and in the differently defined framework conditions of this situation.

The thematic focus of the research field takes place via the specific object of observation, the film Fire by Deepa Mehta.

There is now extensive literature on Indian film, and especially on Bollywood, with a steadily growing number of works, whereby a sharp distinction must be made between scientific works and devotional “fan literature”. The literature used here on this research aspect comes mainly from the English-speaking world, which in the literary sense also includes India.

The cultural-ethnological, cultural-historical and social-scientific literature is in abundance and is limited by reference to the situation of women in India, supplemented by research-relevant aspects of contemporary culture and cultural history.

So far, very little scientific literature exists on Deepa Mehta's films. For this reason, I also used sources available online for the film analysis: interviews, newspaper reports and essays. The critical consideration of these sources is of particular importance in order not to impair the scientific claim of this work. In order not to be too dependent on external sources that may be difficult to assess, important information was verified through a constant exchange with the director and the executive producer David Hamilton.

Methods and structure

The methodical basis of the investigation is the systematic film analysis of Fire. I will use the methodology of Helmut Korte (Korte 2004) as a general guide. This provides for the inclusion of relevant external factors in the film analysis.

In this way, factors can be taken into account both on the film-making side and on the receptive level.

In the analysis, Korte distinguishes between four interlinked areas:

1. Film reality (content, form, plot)
2. Reference reality (relationship between the cinematic representation and reality)
3. Reality of conditions (causality of emergence with regard to the historical situation, taking into account content and form)
4. Reality of effect (dominant contemporary reception / today's reception)

The focus of Fire's analysis will be on determining the film reality and the reference reality.

For the detailed analysis of the relationship structures of the characters in the film reality and for the recording of cultural peculiarities, I have supplemented the scene analysis with elements from the methodology according to Lothar Mikos (Mikos 2003).

The main focus here was on aligning the immanent film analysis with the special interest in knowledge and thus preventing an excessive and too unspecific detailed analysis.

From both methodological approaches I have developed an analysis tool, to which more detailed explanations can be found in the appendix (scenic film analysis).

Furthermore, I had several telephone conversations with Deepa Mehta and David Hamilton in August and September 2007 to discuss details that were included in the analysis and interpretation.

The reality of the conditions includes the question of the intention of the director, who is also the screenwriter of Fire. For this I will use material from earlier interviews with Deepa Mehta and from my own discussions with Deepa Mehta and David Hamilton.

To evaluate the reality of the effects, I will use sections from the monographs used, contemporary newspaper reports on the events and reactions to the release of the film, as well as later reflective articles from the specialist press.

The work will consider the areas of the reality of conditions and the reality of effects in the context of the analysis, but they will not represent core areas.

For the sake of better readability and to avoid redundancies, I will compare the areas of investigation of the film reality and the reference reality in relation to the respective aspect in direct sequence.

I. main part

1. Deepa Mehta

1.1 Vita

Deepa Mehta was born in 1950 in Amritsar in the state of Punjab / India, near the border with Pakistan, as the daughter of a film dealer and cinema owner. As Hindus, in 1947 the parents had to flee from the part of India, which was closed to Pakistan, to Indian territory in Punjab. In 1952 her brother Dilip was born.

Deepa Mehta studied philosophy at the University of Delhi until 1971. During this time she met Paul Saltzman, a Canadian director and producer. She emigrated with him to Canada in 1973 and married him in the same year.

In 1973 she founded the film production company Sunrise Films Ltd. with Paul Saltzman and Dilip Mehta.

Her marriage to Paul Saltzman had a daughter, Devyani Mehta-Saltzman (* 1980). The marriage was divorced in 1995 (Kanda 2003: 2).

Between 1975 and 1986 Deepa Mehta hardly appeared as a director or writer. She had problems with her own identity as an immigrant and a member of a minority both in Canada and in India, where she was now paid to the NRIs, the non-resident Indians (Desai 2004: 185).

It was during their two-year divorce process that Deepa Mehta wrote the screenplay for Fire.

On June 13, 2006, she was awarded an honorary doctorate by the law faculty of the University of Western Ontario / Canada for her critical cinematic examination of Indian women's rights.

Deepa Mehta is now Canada's internationally best-known director (Levithin 2002: 273). Actually, however, you have to understand her as a diaspora culture producer, because as a member of two states she stands for a cosmopolitan transnationalism, which on the one hand gives her access to different perspectives.[3] on the other hand, it also provokes critical questions about cultural authenticity. With regard to her film Fire in particular, Mehta had to put up with the accusation of suffering from a “lack of intimacy” with her home country (Dessai 2004: 185)

1.2 Filmography

Deepa Mehta's career began in 1973. At first she wrote scripts for children's films, then she mainly worked on documentaries. In 1974 she wrote and edited the documentary The Bakery, which her husband directed. This was followed by a documentary (At 99: A Portrait of Louise Tandy Murch, 1975) and - after a long break - a documentary about her brother's work (Traveling Light: The Photojournalism of Dilip Mehta, 1986).[4]

Two years later, Deepa Mehta joined the feature film production as a co-director for Martha, Ruth & Edie. This was followed by minor directorial work for series productions, namely one episode of the Canadian TV series The Twin (1988) and directing four episodes of the series Danger Bay (1988-1989). She made her debut in 1991 with Sam & Me as the sole director of a full feature film.[5] The film won an award at the Cannes Film Festival.

Steven Spielberg hired her in 1993 to direct an episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (Benares, January 1910). In 1994 the film Camilla followed with Jessica Tandy and Bridget Fonda in the leading roles. In 1995 she worked again for Spielberg as a director for The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles in the television movie Travels with Father. She directed the Greece section (aired in 1996).

In the same year, Deepa Mehta began filming her Elements trilogy with the film Fire. She was also responsible for the script herself for the first time and was therefore solely responsible for the artistic and content management. The film won 14 international awards.

In 1998 she continued the trilogy with Earth / 1947, again being solely responsible for the script and direction. She retained this principle of artistic sole responsibility in all of her subsequent films.

Water was supposed to complete the trilogy in 2000, but the film could not be made due to massive, politically directed and violent protests. Shocked and frustrated by this, Deepa Mehta filmed a harmless comedy with Bollywood / Hollywood in 2002 with slight swipes at Indian mainstream film production and Indian traditions. This was followed in 2003 with Republic of Love, a romantic drama based on a novel by Carol Shields.

It was not until 2004 that Deepa Mehta began filming Water again under strict security precautions, this time in Sri Lanka. At the end of 2006, Water also came to German cinemas and received an Oscar nomination for best foreign film at the 2007 Academy Awards.

Deepa Mehta is currently working on a film entitled Exclusion, which, based on a true story from 1914, illuminates the fate of Indian refugees on a ship off the coast of Canada. Publication is scheduled for 2008.

2. Contemporary Indian cinema

For a better classification of the film Fire, here is a brief overview of Indian film, its distribution, reception and the conditions under which it was made. The presentation must be limited to providing a general insight into the field of research without being able to grasp it in all its complexity.

2.1 Bollywood and the Indian film industry

Indian cinema can look back on over a century of history. Dhundiraj Govind Phalke (1870-1944) is considered the "father of Indian cinema". The trained lithographer and photographer saw a French passion film - Life of Christ - in a cinema in India around 1910. He was so impressed to have become an “eyewitness” to the work and sufferings of Christ that from then on he tried to make films on an autodidactic basis.[6] He made use of the rich Indian mythology and history, which is why Phalke is considered to be the one in India who "secured the Indian tradition on celluloid". His influences, however, range from traditional Indian Sanskrit theater to “Western” film and photography (Schulze 2003: 12f.). It was also Phalke who set a kind of standard for good Indian cinema in 1918:

"The concept for a good film requires a story full of rasa[7], divinity and virtue, giving a real / accurate view of existence / the world, effortlessly showing the true path. This is no easy task, but by the grace of God the mute will speak in dulcest tones and the lame will scale the mountain peak . ” (Schulze 2003: 10)

From these noble beginnings the largest cinema industry in the world has developed. The films from India tower up to an annual mountain of 800 to 1000 new releases, of which around 150 to 200 come from Bombay, which has been called Mumbai since 1995 (Ganti 2004: 3; Uhl / Kumar 2004: 12). “Bollywood” is a corruption of “Bombay” and “Hollywood” and thus refers to the economic and mass media triumph of Bombay cinema. The films from Mumbai are published in the Hindi language, which is why Hindi cinema is also used as an alternative to “Bollywood”. There are also many other local cinema industries, some with hardly less production, such as Tamil cinema or Telegu cinema from the state of Andra Pradesh, Bengali, Kannada and Malayalam cinema.These regional industries each serve their own language area in India - Telegu, for example, is spoken by around 75 million people in India - and some of them are commercialized in a similar way to Hindi cinema. Hindi is spoken by an estimated 370 million people in India as their mother tongue, a further 155 million as a second language, a total of over 600 million in the South Asian-speaking area. With its popularity in India, Bollywood cinema has made a significant contribution to the spread of Hindi as a second language (Tharoor 2005: 162f.).

It is the contemporary Bollywood films, such as those produced since the beginning of the 90s, that shape the western image of up-and-coming India with its fascinating mix of exotic tradition and western-oriented modernity. The beginning of the 1990s marked a technological and cultural turning point in India, because at that time satellite television spread more and more in the larger cities, so that the influence of Western media on national media production increased. At the same time, there was a Bollywood boom in the western countries with a large proportion of the Indian diaspora. In Singapore, London, Toronto, Moscow, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and a number of other major cities around the world, new cinemas appeared that only showed Indian films. Indian film production companies were soon earning more money from the publication and showing of their films in western countries than from the Indian market (Ganti 2004: 38f.).

This sudden “globalization” of Bollywood film also affected its content. Previously, class differences, poverty, economic struggle for survival and war were possible topics, now these have almost completely disappeared from the repertoire. The focus especially of the family melodramas and romances - the so-called family entertainers - was now on social prosperity[8]. The protagonists no longer belonged to the working class or lower middle class castes, but were suddenly unimaginably rich, usually for the sons and daughters of millionaires. If members of the working class did appear, they were mostly the cause of conflict or problems.[9] In addition, since the 1990s there has hardly been any depiction of criminals or crimes in Bollywood films, so that there is no longer any need to depict the state and its representatives.[10] The role assignments also changed: while the wealthy businessman in the films of the 50s to 80s was still the cause of injustice, exclusion and crime, in the 90s he mutated into a patient, loving and amiable family father (Ganti 2004 : 39).

The typical Bollywood melodrama has since developed around a - heterosexual - love story, often a love triangle in which class differences do not play a role because the protagonists belong to the same class.[11] The tension arises from the contrast between family expectations and personal desires in relation to an imminent marriage or an inflamed love that is initially not tolerated by the strict parents. In the course of globalization, Hindi film has also changed in resolving conflicts, whereby a tendency towards a more conservative attitude can be observed. While the rebellion of the youth against the older generation was a popular theme in earlier films, stories now predominate in which young couples return to the protection and tradition of the family. The emphasis on Indian national pride in contemporary Hindi films is obvious. The Indians living in the diaspora are also being discussed more and more frequently, their behavior under the influence of western modernity and how they reconcile the modern way of life with their love of home (Kruger 2004: 5).

The Indian extended family - the "joint family"[12] including their relatives sporadically living abroad - and the preservation of family values, as well as the consolidation of Indian traditions, form the core elements of modern melodramas that make up the predominant part of Bollywood production (Ganti 2004: 40f.).

Religious aspects are an indispensable part of Indian mainstream film, as well as music and dance interludes. With regard to religion and mythology, the focus has changed from depicting the work of the gods on people's lives to the visualization of religiosity. Religious processes and ceremonies are shown as part of the protagonists' everyday life and also brought into harmony with their modern way of life.[13]

A certain religiosity was originally expressed in the songs and dance scenes as well, in their sensitivity and way of thinking (Dwyer 2006: 149), but in modern Bollywood films an MTV video clip aesthetic has increasingly found its way into which exotic backdrops and erotic costumes and hints are in the foreground. Popular stylistic devices are “wet sari” scenes in which the actresses swim in the sea or a river while they are clothed.

The songs are a decisive commercial aspect in India, which is essentially due to the fact that music is an obligatory part of everyday Indian culture. All important moments in life - births, weddings, celebrations of the dead - are connected with music and dance (Dudrah 2006: 47f.). Every new film therefore needs six or seven good songs, combined with fancy dance sequences, in order to be a success at the box office. Accordingly, the focus here is only secondary on an emotional background to the film plot or the feelings of the protagonists, but above all on the sales request (Uhl / Kumar 2004: 22). Nevertheless, Bollywood films are not musicals, even if the music for the films is often composed before the shooting. It is also customary for the film music to be released up to three months before the film starts in order to establish the melodies in the potential audience. The music of Bollywood films is part of the soundscape of everyday public life in Indian cities (Dudrah 2006: 48; Ganti 2004: 78ff.).

The commercialization of the film industry and the orientation of film production towards profit maximization have, however, in the course of time led to the fact that a large part of the newly created films are built according to an analytically determined recipe for success that brings about stylistic and dramaturgical uniformity.[14]

In the meantime, the term “Bollywood” seems to become more and more a synonym for a global Indian pop culture, which no longer only includes the films in Mumbai, but the global distribution of an exotic culture positively imagined by the films (Dudrah 2006: 30f. ). It should not go unmentioned here, however, that within the national Indian film there is not only the commercial but also an artistically sophisticated cinema, the so-called parallel cinema, of which Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen are the outstanding representatives (Gregor 1992: 12).

Deepa Mehta's films, however, are assigned to Diasporic Cinema, which in principle does not place them either in the mainstream or in the parallel cinema, since these are content-related assignments within a national cinema that is based on the location of the film as well as the nationality and the The place of residence of those responsible and those involved is defined.[15] The Diasporic Cinema also includes the very successful films Monsoon Wedding by Mira Nair (2001) and Kick it like Beckham by Gurinder Chadha (2002)[16] can be attributed to those who initiated the triumphant advance of Bollywood cinema in the West, but did not belong to it themselves.[17]

2.2 Censorship

"It's [i.e. Movie; ed.] very significant, especially in India, because it’s the cheapest form of entertainment in our country. So it can form a lot of opinions, it can change the way people think, definitely it can. (...) ... I think we should be slightly more socially aware in our films than we are now., Because we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that we are here to entertain people. (...) But then also we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that we are dealing to a country which feeds on Hindi films, which breathes Hindi films, which does take its Hindi films very seriously, so we should not have things in our film which might have any negative influence on society. " Aditya Chopra, film director[18]

Any film to be released in India must be reviewed by the Central Board of Film Certification, the state censorship agency. The facility goes back to the British Code of Censorship, which Great Britain established in 1918 in all colonies. In the same year the Indian Cinematograph Act was enshrined in law, which in addition to censorship regulated the issuing of cinema licenses (Uhl / Kumar 2004: 131). The tasks of the censorship authority have been subject to multiple changes over the course of time. Initially its aim was to preserve the reputation of the colonial power, but from 1940 onwards the task was added to prevent the depiction of the burgeoning independence movement in films. After gaining independence, the tasks changed again: Now it was ensured that films did not endanger the public order and security in the still young state, that relations with other states were not burdened and that public decency and morality were preserved. In 1953 a passage was added which allows various state institutions to forbid the showing of films that have already been certified by the censorship authority (Uhl / Kumar 2004: 132). Since then, the guidelines have hardly been changed[19]Which led to the fact that over time the reviewers orientated themselves less and less to the guidelines, but more and more to their traditional practice. In a study in 1968 it was found that not a single Indian or Western film had been allowed to be published in India because the censors had followed the censorship guidelines verbatim. Nevertheless, there was no change in the guidelines, and the “current practice” still forms the basis for the assessments today (Uhl / Kumar 2004: 133). In the course of time, the directors have internalized this practice, so that content that could provoke offense can be avoided in voluntary self-restraint (Ganti 2004: 194f.). There are practically no kissing scenes in mainstream films because kissing on the mouth is seen in many places as an intimate act and viewed in public as offensive.[20]

The censorship authority issues four different certificates:

U: Universal or Unrestricted; Certificate for films without any objectionable content. Contains little or no representation of violence and “sensuality”.

U / A: Unrestricted with adult accompaniment; Certificate for films with moderate depiction of violence, language or sensuality. It could contain parts that are not suitable for children under 12 years of age.

A: Adults; Certificate for films with extreme depictions of violence, sexuality (including partial nudity), fearful imagery and explicit language.

S: special; rare certificate for films reserved for a certain class.

2.3 Dissemination

Precisely because the attentive censorship ensures that Indian films comply with a religious-conservative moral code that does not allow kisses on the mouth or nudity, Bollywood films are distributed far beyond India. Indian films are exported to China, East Asia and the entire Islamic world, from Morocco to Indonesia. They are seen all over South Asia, in the Maghreb countries in North Africa, in South America, Eastern Europe and in Russia. In addition, there are the countries in which many NRIs live, i.e. Canada, the USA and Great Britain, as well as increasingly western countries with a growing “fan audience”, especially Germany (Kruger 2004: 4; Dudrah 2006: 30). The vast majority of films made in Hindi are subtitled accordingly for the exporting countries. For countries with a larger, western audience, dubbed versions are increasingly coming onto the market.

2.4 Reception in India

In India, the national films have a high priority for leisure activities, although a clear distinction must be made between the urban middle class population and the rural population.[21]

Going to the cinema in a big city like Delhi or Mumbai is considered an event with a great experience value for the whole family. The entrance fees are quite low[22]The screening follows a fixed pattern: after the advertising comes a state-ordered documentary, then only the main film, which is traditionally interrupted in the middle for a break (Uhl / Kumar 2004: 13, 14).

The reception of the actual film in India has some peculiarities that are due to the deep roots of cinema in everyday culture. At a premiere, the audience follows the film with the utmost attention so as not to miss any detail. Attending premieres is considered extremely prestigious, especially by younger moviegoers. From around the second week of broadcasting, audience reactions begin to change significantly. Now initiated viewers join in the dialogues and even sing the songs, for which they clearly raise their voices. The appearance of the main actors on the screen is greeted with applause, and performances that are perceived as particularly successful are praised with a loud “wahwah” - in Hindi “very good” or “great” (Uhl / Kumar 2004: 14). Here the cinema experience crosses the border of passive reception to active participation by the audience, from which the actual overall reception arises. Only by knowing this special type of reception can one understand why Indian mainstream films follow a different dramatic structure than Western films.[23] The reception of Western films in India also follows the pattern we are familiar with, without the reactions typical of Indian films - but with a break in the middle of the film (Uhl / Kumar 2004: 14f.).

Going to the cinema is an integral part of leisure activities in the cities and is integrated into the daily routine between school or work and everyday life at home. Every day between one and two percent of the Indian population visit - that's over 10 to 20 million people[24] - the approximately 9,000 city cinemas[25]. Many other people in the rural areas also regularly enjoy Indian films when their villages are visited by one of the estimated 4,500 “moving cinemas” - often just a moped with a trailer, a roll-out screen and a projector.

So if one takes into account that a considerable part of the Indian population goes to the cinema regularly and very often, then it seems reasonable to assume that the recipients have a very close relationship with the films and with the stars. Because of this close relationship, an astonishing reverse effect occurs: the films become part of everyday culture and do not depict an existing reality, but cause a change in reality because the recipients share their thoughts, their moral ideas and theirs Get social behavior from the films and base your actions on the behavior and dialogues of the stars (Ganti 2004: 192, 199). That goes a bit beyond mere escapism, as it is quickly diagnosed in various ways (e.g. Alexowitz 2003: 16). Indian sociologists such as R. K. Dudrah state that the films contribute to the formation of the identity not only of the recipients as individuals, but also to the formation of the identity of the entire nation. According to this view, the content of the films starts with the present familiar to the recipients and offers them opportunities for identification based on the smallest, simplest common denominator, and from this position they develop a positive, modernizing vision of the future with values ​​that correspond to the general consensus (Dudrah 2006: 121, 123). Since this presupposes a “canon of values” - which is also defined by the current practice of censorship - one could also view Bollywood films as ideological films, for example in their conveyance of a hetero-normative ideal for sexual coexistence (Dudrah 2006: 122).

2.5 Reception in the west

In the West, Bollywood films were first able to gain a foothold in regions where a greater number of NRIs have settled. The Indian diaspora is considered to be one of the fastest growing in the world. In 2002, Vijay Mishra estimated the total number of Indians living abroad to be over 11 million, of which 1.5 million were in Europe (1.3 million in the UK alone). A distinction must be made between the diaspora of the colonial era and the post-colonial diaspora of the globalized market. While the old diaspora is mainly to be found in the former British colonies, the second diaspora movement of the 1960s was directed towards the metropolises of the former colonial power, North and South America and Australia (Mishra 2002: 235).

This new diaspora, which attaches great importance to close ties to the home country, represents the main sales market for Bollywood films outside of India. The NRIs regard Bollywood films as “a piece of home” and as an imagination of cultural solidarity across borders languages ​​and national differences within the diaspora community (Mishra 2002: 237).

It is generally accepted that Bollywood films with their formulaic similitude convey an impression of Indian values, traditions and current developments (Kruger 2004: 4; Kaur 2005: 311 et al.). It is precisely this conveyance of values, combined with the assumption that recipients of Indian films, regardless of their national origin, develop an independent competence of reception (Rajadhyaksha 2005: 268ff.), Which also includes an adaptation of values ​​and ideas that goes beyond temporary escapism belonged to everyday life, the fascination that Bollywood films have for western viewers could also be located. It doesn't seem to be a coincidence that romantic films in particular are so successful in the West. The love stories told in it are, in relation to India, “not a mirror of social conditions.Rather, they overturn the official "moral code" that defines relationships between the sexes. (...) Love stories thus become the bearers of our hidden needs and hidden longings. The love story, whether in the film or in stories, is a dream of a love that is free from all external limitations and inner inhibitions ”(Kakar 2006: 65f.). What Sudhir and Katharina Kakar assume here for the Indian recipients can also be transferred to a Western audience.

The Bollywood films evoke associations of romantic love, so pure and unadulterated that they are hardly real, but of which one can at least dream for a while. For Western recipients, the dreamlike nature of the picture is directly linked to the exotic, fairytale radiance of India, which removes the vision of romantic love from sober reality (Emmer 1997: 9).

Alexowitz states - somewhat exaggerated and without critical distance - an "Indication of the West" and suspects the causes of "Decline in values, unemployment, disorientation and fear of the future", which the Bollywood films set against "Joie de vivre, exoticism and optimism". Added to this is the conveyance of values ​​“which are more important in these cultures than in ours. Think of the sense of family, virtue, honor and respect ”(Alexowitz 2003: 196).

With regard to the reception of Bollywood films in the West, there have so far been only a few studies that refer primarily to Great Britain as the “country of origin” of the Bollywood boom. This boom was so noticeable there for the first time in 2002 that it was also reflected in the reporting of the mass media. In May 2002, Indian fashion presentations were held in various stores in London and Manchester for over a month, advertised on TV, radio and print media. In June 2002 the musical Bombay Dreams by Andrew Lloyd Webber premiered in London. Around the same time, English pop stars were releasing songs with Indian-associated cues. The trend continued in the following year. Bollywood-themed episodes began to appear in English TV series and British fashion manufacturers brought out Bollywood-inspired clothing. A secondary market developed around the films and the stars, offering practically everything from fan magazines and posters to bed linen to a faithful replica of a star bathroom. While the “Bollywood hype” was cursed again in the media, the films and the characteristics associated with them became part of everyday and consumer culture (Dudrah 2006: 117f.).

With regard to Bollywood films, the German media recipients seem to be divided quite clearly into “uninterested” and “fans”, with women making up about 80% of the total number of Bollywood recipients.[26] In addition to their passion for films, the “fans” also develop a heightened interest in India itself and in the characteristics of Indian culture associated with the films: They are interested in Indian music, in Indian jewelry, clothing and accessories, and go shopping in Indian grocery stores (Alexowitz 2003: 198), where, in addition to Indian food, you can often buy pirated copies of many Bollywood films. There are now a number of German-language forums on the Internet in which fans can exchange information about the films, their favorite actors, music, India as a country, clothing, jewelry and Indian kitsch, or arrange to go to the cinema together.[27]

As far as I know, there is no empirical investigation of the reception behavior of western viewers during the cinema show[28]. Own observations when going to the cinema in Bremen and at a five-day Indian film festival in Stuttgart[29] convey the impression that the German audience for the most part clearly prefers the Bollywood mainstream and when it comes to reception tends to imitate the Indian reception habits, which are now well-known here too, i.e. not to follow the film story quietly and with concentration, but rather to follow it through extroverted emotions to accompany and comment. Popular films are also viewed several times, both in the cinema and on DVD, so that German fans are finally able to repeat the dialogues or sing along to songs. Nevertheless, the integration of the Bollywood lifestyle into everyday life does not work smoothly, as the social contexts and the surrounding society are usually not adequate for this. Most Bollywood fans remain “Indians of choice for their leisure time”, who dress and behave in accordance with their surroundings outside of their home or the cinema.

There is currently a tendency in the Bollywood film industry to adapt even more to the western market and to shorten the otherwise traditionally very long playing time of around three hours for new productions. This allowed the films to appeal to a larger mass audience and, in the West, to cross the line from the established fan niche to the general audience shaped by Western viewing habits. In doing so, the Bollywood producers are following a development that was dictated by directors like Deepa Mehta and Mira Nair - but they are doing this for purely commercial considerations.

3. Film analysis: Fire (1996)

According to the schematic structure of the analysis according to Mikos, I will first go into the circumstances of the making of the film Fire, before the analysis of the film reality with regard to the question formulated at the beginning and the detailed comparison of the Indian life reality. At the end of the chapter, I will look at the reactions to the film in the West and in India.

3.1 Reality of conditions: origin and background

"It came about in part because I had a real desire to de-mystify India. The India of the British Raj, of Maharajaz and beautiful Princesses surrounded by abject poverty just does not exist anymore. I wanted to make a film about contemporary, middle-class India, with all its vulnerabilities, foibles and the incredible, extremely dramatic battle that is waged daily between the forces of tradition and the desire for an independent, individual choice. " Deepa Mehta, 1997 (quoted from Margetts 1997)

For a comprehensive film analysis, it is necessary to examine as many context factors as possible in the making of the film with regard to their possible influence on the production as well as the content and formal design. In the following, the focus of the consideration is primarily on the personal motives of the director and their causes, including the position of the film within her overall work, as well as on[30] the historical context of the making of the film. Further factors, such as the position of the film in comparison to other, similar films of the period and to contemporary film production, can only be taken into account in passing.

3.1.1 Personal Conditions

Deepa Mehta began writing the screenplay for Fire in 1993. At the time, she was in the process of divorce with her husband Paul Saltzman. The marriage was divorced in 1995 (Kanda 2003: 2). The script is also completed around this time. Correspondingly, as Deepa Mehta herself states, the script reflects her own attitude and her emotional state with regard to the bondage in a marriage[31]. She stayed in Canada and India during the development of the script (Desai 2004: 160).

At the same time, the screenplay for Fire, combined with the intention of turning it into a film for which Deepa Mehta would be the sole creative decision maker, was the cornerstone of her career as an independent filmmaker. The decision to do independent creative work resulted not only from the process of breaking away from her husband, who was also her business partner, but also from the fact that she was dissatisfied with the editing of the feature film Camilla (1993), for which she as a director had been engaged (Levitin 2002: 276).

However, Fire was not planned as a stand-alone feature film, but rather as the prelude to a trilogy, the basic idea of ​​which was also developed in the time it was made. Deepa Mehta had decided to use the three films to depict the oppression of Indian women by the three social elements tradition, politics and religion. She symbolically assigned the three elements Fire, Earth and Water as film titles.

It is noticeable that Mehta works on Indian history, starting in the present (Fire), followed by Indian independence in 1947 with the pogroms between Muslims and Hindus (Earth) and the situation of Indian widows in Benares around 1930 (Water ). Her feature film Exclusion, expected for 2008, is set in 1914, but turns more strongly to the repressed Canadian history by illuminating the fate of Indian war refugees off the coast of Canada.

A process of self-reflection on the part of the director becomes clear from these contexts, working thematically on her Indian origins and her own career as a Canadian immigrant and member of the Indian diaspora.

Fire was filmed on location in India in 1995/1996. It was financed from Indian and North American sources (Desai 2004: 160). It was obviously important for Mehta to break out of the media clichés with her film: “I think it was important to paint a picture of the present middle class India, not a starving India, not an exotic India.” (Desai 2004: 176, Ubers .: Ed.)

3.1.2 Historical conditions

The first half of the 1990s was marked by very different events in India. Politically, it was shaped by the flare-up of strong nationalist currents. As early as 1989 a “coalition of the National Front” had defeated the government of the Congress Party under Rajiv Gandhi and from then on formed a minority government under V.P. Singh of the Janata Nationalist Party (BJP). In 1991 Rajiv Gandhi was murdered by a Tamil suicide bomber. The elections brought the Congress party back to power. The political instability, however, favored the Hindu nationalist currents. In December 1992 the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya was destroyed by a Hindu mob. This led to serious clashes between Hindus and Muslims in several Indian cities. Tensions continued in 1993; bombs even exploded in Bombay. The Congress Party found it difficult to hold on to power; there were rumors of bribery of opposition members (Tharoor 2005: 13f.).

While India was heading into a political crisis, religious extremism was flourishing. The conflict between the Hindus and the Muslims resulted in an intensified[32] Part of the population turned towards Hindu nationalism, that is, the connection between religious identity and national pride.

However, the political and religious unrest also reflected the process of integrating India into the globalized world, which began to intensify in the 1990s. India was to become the venue for the cricket world championships and for the Miss World elections in 1996 (Tharoor 2005: 14). A traditional, religious culture that had grown over millennia was confronted in the few decades after independence with the full force of the globalized, modern and tends to be secular West, which inevitably led to social upheavals. The confrontation between a culture shaped by religion and the penetrating modernity of the market economy took place above all in the growing big cities, in which a new middle class was emerging that wanted to participate in the economic boom and greater consumer orientation without giving up its cultural roots.

3.1.3 The Indian diaspora cinema

Locating Fire within a national or transnational cinema culture is generally difficult. The Indian and the western - Canadian - influences can be proven, in this respect one could follow Jigna Desai's view, who classifies the film in the South Asian diaspora cinema as well as in the South Asian cinema itself (Desai 2004: 161). Fire stands within the framework of the diaspora directors who, at the beginning of the 1990s, “turned their cameras back” to their homeland in order to depict the changes there in the age of globalization, for example Manoj Nelliyattu Shyamalan (Praying with Anger, 1992), Mira Nair (Kama Sutra / A Tale of Love, 1997; Salaam Bombay !, 1998; Monsoon Wedding, 2001), Jagmohan Mundhra (Bawandar / The Sand Storm, 2000), Nagesh Kukunoor (Hyderabad Blues, 1998; Bollywood Calling, 2001; Teen Deewarein / Three Walls, 2003; Hyderabad Blues 2 - Rearranged Marriage, 2004) and the Pakistani Khamosh Pani (Silent Water, 2003).

A categorization as a Canadian film, however, was out of the question - at least not for the Canadian film claim. For this the film had to be shot in Canada with predominantly Canadian actors. The $ 1.6 million for the film had to come from private sources.

3.2 The film reality and its reference reality

The film reality is recorded in the form of a comprehensive evaluation of the film analysis of “Fire” (see appendix) with regard to the question formulated at the beginning. After a brief overview of the film plot and its dramaturgical twists and turns, I will analyze the social framework conditions shown in the film, the characters and their relationships with one another and relate them to the reality of life in India as it is presented in the specialist literature used.

The points of reference between film reality and Indian life are marked by the information in the literary sources.

Film and sound technology will not be mentioned separately in this section because, according to the findings of the film analysis carried out by Fire, they play a subordinate role for the perspective of this work. If these aspects are important for individual scenes, this is noted in the scene analysis in the appendix. The scene references are given in brackets.

3.2.1 Film plot and dramaturgy

The young Indian Sita comes to a middle-class family in New Delhi through an arranged marriage with the businessman Jatin. The family, in which Jatin, his older brother Ashok and his wife Radha, as well as the mother of the two brothers and the domestic servant Mundu live together under one roof, runs a snack bar and also a video store.

Radha and Ashok have been married for 16 years. Radha cannot have children; Her frustrated husband Ashok turned to a guru after just three years of marriage to free his body and mind from carnal desires. Radha suffers from it, but devotedly fulfills her duty as wife and daughter-in-law.

The arrival of Sitas in the extended family triggers lasting changes.[33]

Jatin only married Sita for the family's sake and because of Ashok's desire for a male heir - he continues to meet with his lover Julie, without seriously hiding it from Sita. Sita feels rejected by him.

However, instead of accepting her predetermined fate as a dutiful mother, Sita revolted. As an older sister-in-law, Radha takes care of her. Sita's zest for life and her modern views arouse new self-confidence in Radha. The two women, increasingly frustrated by their life partners, turn more and more to each other, become friends and finally, after a night spent unobserved together, secret lovers who increasingly revolt against the paternalism of men.

The mother Biji, paralyzed and mute after a stroke, observes the goings-on of her sons and their wives and "comments" on it through facial expressions and gestures, but mostly without being noticed or taken seriously.

The domestic worker Mundu is not happy either. In the family he is not perceived as a person, but as an inventory. He observes what is going on in the family disapprovingly and is informed of all entanglements. He secretly desires Radha, but she is out of reach for him. He gets relief through masturbation. When he is caught by Radha, this triggers a dramatic turnaround.

The impending loss of livelihoods and the eventual realization that Radha will never be able to own Radha drives Mundu to betray Radha and Sita to Ashok. In a dramatic act of detachment, Radha and Sita leave their husbands home to build a future together.

3.2.2 Social framework

"It is quite obvious that issues such as marriage, the economic and social role of women, social aspects of gender equality, and the relationship between elders and their descendants are not only components of cinematic dramaturgy, but also palpable aspects of social change in real life. " (Kruger 2004: 3)

Indian society is a complex structure of different groups, which are essentially determined by three hierarchical principles: religion, social status and gender.[34] The determinants condition and influence one another, so that a separate consideration of their importance for the realities of life of women in the Indian middle class is difficult. But they are also arranged hierarchically among each other.

The Indian middle class comprises around 200 to 300 million people[35] and does not represent a homogeneous field of research: In the south of the country, women are predominantly more involved in the lives of their husbands[36] and the populations of smaller cities tend to have a somewhat more traditional way of life than those in larger cities. Nevertheless, the similarities of the middle class are more striking than their differences in caste, language or religion (Kakar 2006: 46f.).

After a fundamental consideration of the hierarchical principle of order in Hindu society, the living conditions of Indian women of the middle class in the different contexts of society in general and the family in particular, the gender relations, the upbringing in the parental home and the social relationships of women are presented below each other, the situation in the marriage and the relevance of sexuality are examined more closely. These areas are closely interlinked and mutually dependent. The separate consideration in different sections is therefore mainly for reasons of clarity and the better focus on the individual aspects of the reality of life. Tradition, religion, caste system

The tradition is firmly anchored in the socialization of the Indians. Traditional values, which for Hindus are closely and inextricably linked with religion, are obligatory components of self-understanding (Uhl / Kumar 2004: 135). For this reason, young Indians do not break away from their parents' home by questioning its traditional values. A partial individualization in the course of growing up takes place via the “stretching” of traditional values ​​(Kakar 2006: 19f.).[37]

Religion and tradition are expressed in Indian films through the depiction of Hindu rituals and often become the thematic scene of a conflict between Hindu religion, tradition and the modernization of urban society. Kruger (2004: 5) points out that in Bollywood film a still quite new tendency can be observed to depict a “united nation” through the “construct of public ceremonies, symbols, institutions and discourses”.

Fire also deals with the aspects of tradition and religion, but uses them in a different context. Tradition plays a major role in family life. Occasionally it finds a visual, ritualized expression in rituals (Sz. 07 et al.), But mostly it dominates events and interactions as an immanent but invisible construct.

This is how the family is traditionally organized in Fire. As the representative of the oldest generation within the family, Biji nominally acts as the head to whom all other family members owe respect, but the actual head is the eldest son Ashok, who succeeds his father.

In the hierarchy Jatin follows as the second son, whereby Radha is not inferior to him as the wife of the older son and head of the family. Their areas of responsibility are so widely separated that they hardly have anything to do with each other in everyday life and a hierarchy basically does not work. In business matters, however, Radha apparently has little influence on family decisions. There, responsibilities are traditionally defined according to gender: the men take care of the financial or economic aspects, the women work in the kitchen.

As the youngest woman in the family, Sita marks the end of the kinship hierarchy. She has to obey Ashok as the head of the family, Jatin as her husband and Radha as the elder daughter-in-law. Their integration into the family work processes in the house and in the kitchen is compulsory and without any alternative (scene 16).


[1] Gerhard Emmer points out that this development is basically much older and goes back to the American films of the 50s ("The Tiger of Esnapur"), which show an India of palaces and Mughals (cf. everyday cultures in India 1997: 9 ).

[2] The fairy tale payments from the Arabian Nights are essentially of Indian origin and were only later translated into Middle Persian and written down. They go back to stories that are attributed to the Indian poet and playwright Kalidasa. The stories were supplemented by old Persian stories and summarized in the 7th century in the Persian book Hazar Afsan (“thousand stories”) and in the 8th century translated into Arabic Alf Ayla (“thousand nights”) and Islamized, ie with Islamic formulas and quotations enriched. There is no uniform original text, but an open collection of stories, to which further stories from the Arab region came in the 11th and 12th centuries. The oldest surviving manuscript dates from 1450. The French orientalist Antoine Galland added further stories to this in a publication around 1710, such as the famous stories Ali Baba and the 40 robbers, Sindbad the seafarer and Aladin and the magic lamp. In his translation, Galland removed all religious and erotic connotations from the stories and thus made “fairy tales” out of them (cf., inter alia, Tharoor 2005: 284, 407; Chanda 2007: 13).

[3] In some sources, the year of birth is also given as 1949, but this is incorrect (Pinnow-Locnikar 2007b).

[4] Source: (Date of last visit: 02/28/2007)

[5] The screenplay for Sam & Me, which is set in Canada, was written by Ranjit Chowdhry, who portrays the domestic worker Mundu in Fire. He also played the main role in Sam & Me, the young Indian immigrant Nikhil.

[6] Later he also traveled to London to buy materials and obtain further knowledge from other filmmakers (cf. Dwyer / Patel 2002: 13)

[7] “Rasa” is a term that is difficult to translate and can be understood as a taste, emotional awareness or a sensitive response from the viewer. The "rasas" have their origins in traditional Indian theater (cf. Schulze 2003: 11; Gargi 1960: 27f.)

[8] Family or social melodrama had been the dominant genre in India since the 1940s and more and more superseded religious or mythological films (cf. Dwyer 2006: 138).

[9] The Dalits (“untouchables”) usually do not appear in the film at all, unless the film deals with an example of an appreciation of the casteless, such as Lagaan from 2001 (cf. Dwyer 2006: 140)

[10] There are, however, genres of action and gangster films that deal with the subject of crime (cf. Ganti 2004: 41).

[11] Kruger points out that it is indeed difficult to find a Bollywood film at all that does not involve telling a love story (Kruger 2004: 4).

[12] In an Indian joint family, at least two adult generations live together in one household. In Bollywood films, families with three generations are usually shown: e.g. a married couple with their still unmarried daughters, sons and daughters-in-law, and grandchildren who all live together under one roof (cf. Ganti 2004: 232).

[13] This can be seen very well, for example, in the widely known reference film In good as in difficult days (Kabhi Kushi Kabhie Gham / Somtimes happy, somtimes sad, 2001), in which the large family at the center of the plot is accompanied by a western way of life and disproportionate wealth Combining awareness of tradition and emotionally charged religiosity (see Pinnow-Locnikar 2005: 17)

[14] Uhl / Kumar 2004: 16. On the schematization of dramaturgical stylistic devices see Pinnow-Locnikar 2005: 10f.

[15] Desai 2004: 160. However, other classifications appear on various occasions, including an incorrect classification of Fire as a Bollywood drama (Jha 2005: 82).

[16] English title: bend it like beckham (source:, date of last visit: 25/10/2007)

[17] The first successful diaspora films were Mein wunderbaren Waschsalon (1985) and Sammy and Rosie do it (1987) by Hanif Kureishi, as well as Salaam Bombay (1988) by Mira Nair, who was awarded the Palme d'Or in Cannes (Uhl / Kumar 2004: 159).

[18] Quotation from an interview of April 2, 1996 (Ganti 2004: 193)

[19] The current version of the Cinematography Act dates from 1962 (cf. Gangoli 2005: 145f.)

[20] Alexowitz (2003: 90) even claims that in India the kiss is equated with the sexual act. It is “something purely sexual and not, as with us, a sign of affection that means little more than a handshake. For this reason, kissing in public means having sex openly. ”However, she seems misleading to compare the welcoming kiss on the cheek with an intimate kiss on the mouth.

[21] Emmer (1997: 11f.) Points out that the rural population does not know anything like “leisure”.

[22] Around 25 to 60 rupees (equivalent to approx. 0.50 to 1.05 euros) in normal cinemas, around 100 to 150 rupees in modern multiplex cinemas (Uhl / Kumar 2004: 12).

[23] The reception of Indian films is still a relatively new field of research. Current approaches assume that the recipients - regardless of their nationality - have developed a different "reading competence" (reception competence), based on the history of Indian film and its traditional dramaturgical peculiarities. The dramaturgical elements of the films are again tailored to this special reception competence (Rajadhyaksha 2005: 268ff.).

[24] There are various estimates of the number of daily cinema-goers, which fluctuate between 1% / 10 million (Uhl / Kumar 2004: 15f.) And 2% / 23 million (Rajadhyaksha 2005: 267). Alexowitz assumed only three million in 2003 (Alexowitz 2003: 16).

[25] Uhl / Kumar assume a total of 13,000 cinemas, two thirds of which are permanent venues (Uhl / Kumar 2004: 15), while Alexowitz gives the permanent venues as 8,400 and the total number as 11,962 (Alexowitz 2003: 17).

[26] In November 2004, RTL2 showed the film In Good and Difficult Days in a dubbed version at prime time. The calculated audience rating was 6.9% or 1.82 million viewers. Among the 14-49 year olds, the market share was as much as 11.9%. It is not possible to draw conclusions about the approximate number of Bollywood fans on the basis of this number, but at least one can get a general impression of the interest in Bollywood films (Pinnow-Locnikar 2005: 4).

[27] Popular forums are, for example, “” (, the “Bollywood Forum” ( or “” ( Date of the last visit: October 30, 2007).

[28] An empirical study recently published by the Austrian cultural scientist Birgit Pestal thoroughly examines the market trend in German-speaking countries and determines the expression of passion through a survey among fans in a Bollywood Internet forum, but unfortunately does not provide any information about reception behavior, provided it is about a general one Turning to or rejecting Bollywood films goes beyond [Pestal, Birgit (2007). Fascination Bollywood. Numbers, facts and background to the "trend" in the German-speaking area. Marburg: Tectum Verlag].

[29] "Bollywood & Beyond", July 3-7, 2006

[30] Online source: (date of last visit: October 31, 2007)

[31] Levitin 2002: 277; Deepa Mehta spoke more often in interviews about how difficult it was for her to admit the failure of her marriage. This also made it clear to her how much she was still attached to Indian thinking even after years abroad (Voykowitsch 2005: 110).

[32] Traces of this thematic orientation can also be found in Mehta's other films, in which she had sufficient creative opportunities to implement her own core themes, for example in Sam & Me (1991), which deals with intolerance and prejudice in the multicultural society of Canada, or in Bollywood / Hollywood (2002), which - in the guise of a romantic comedy - depicts the situation of Indo-Canadians who are caught between tradition and family on the one hand and western modernity on the other.

[33] Nevertheless, the film was shown at the Toronto Film Festival as the opening film in the "Perspektive Canada" program and even received a festival award (Desai 2004: 174).

[34] There is also a regional separation due to the country's linguistic diversity. 35 languages ​​are spoken by at least one million people. About 50% of the population understands the language Hindi, which is mainly due to the popularity of the cinema. The English language is gaining in importance in the middle class (Tharoor 2005: 162f.). The total number of all known languages ​​and dialects is 1652 (everyday cultures in India 1996: 10)

[35] Estimates and figures are sometimes highly fluctuating. They range from 100 or 150 million to 200 to 300 million people (Voykowitsch 2005: 83). A market economy study between 1986 and 1994 put the very rich upper class at around 6 million and the “consuming class” - the average middle class - at around 150 million people. Below this is a "lower middle class" (approx. 275 million), then a layer of the "aspirants" (275 million) who were considered "poor" in Europe, including the poor with 210 million people (Tharoor 2005: 258f.).

[36] “Participation in the life of the husband” is still a long way from approaching equality - at best it indicates a reduction in the social disparity between the sexes in a patriarchally organized society.

[37] In the film Fire, Jatin embodies this contradiction between family ties and the desire for individualization (cf., Jatin).

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