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Cinema & Minority Identities.

By: Dibyajy​oti Sarma

Recently, I prepared a course for undergraduate students on the aforementioned subject. The purpose of the course was to study mainstream films and how they represent minority identities; the politics of seeing from outside and from inside and positioning of the gaze, and what happens when minority identities decide to take the centrestage and tell their own tale…

While seeing the films as texts, the course was to address the following issues:
1. Representation of minorities in a mainstream narrative and its need and purpose. Is it to accentuate the
mainstream to represent the social reality or to highlight the issue at hand?
2. Seeing things from the inside and outside and what the gaze represents
3. Limitations and possibilities of representing a minority issue in mainstream narrative
4. Even in the post-post-modern world we live in, the meaning is still understood in terms of binaries. In
a ‘formula’ Hindi film, the hero is pitted against the villain. The amount of evil the villain exudes
highlights the goodness of the hero. The moral degradation of the vamp highlights the purity of the
5. A minority identity is represented in a film to highlight the mainstream characters and issues. In this
case, the minority character becomes a marker, and fails to exist in its own right.
6. Films as a popular medium propose to represent a homogeneous world, where the dominant taste is the
mainstream. Yet, minority identities and minority characters exist in films, even in the sidelines. The
question is what they do to the narrative in hand? How do they represent the reality outside the
imagined world of the cinema? How does the mainstream appropriate these minority voices?
7. What happens when a minority identity decides to take the centre stage and decides to tell its own



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Dibyajyoti Sarma


Climbing 'The Tree of Life' (2011) for the last two weeks. The efforts are not always rewarding, but when it does, it’s extraordinary. In more than one ways the film reminded me of my childhood, when the days were long and possibilities were endless...


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