Bollywood’s melodramatic portrayal of prostitutes, sex workers, call girls

Zinda Laash: Bollywood’s Norms for Dhandewalis is a 15-minute-long film revealing the stereotypes used for portraying prostitutes in India’s film industry. Both incisive and amusing, Zinda Laash was made by Point of View in Mumbai, in association with Sangram/VAMP in Sangli, Mararashtra, India.

Bollywood’s term for women working in the sex industry, dhandewalis, technically means women in business, but it has come to have a derogatory meaning. The norms Zinda Laash identifies for representing prostitutes, sex workers and call girls are classically melodramatic:

They must smoke
They must swear
They must dress ‘differently’
Paan is a must
Clients come in all shapes and sizes
Seedy brothels are the only spaces for them
They are surrounded by shady characters
They enter this world through deceit
They must be abused
They are impure
They are living corpses in hell
They have no place in society
They are different from other women
They cannot be a wife
They cannot be a mother
They can never escape their identity

Watch the film here

4 thoughts on “Bollywood’s melodramatic portrayal of prostitutes, sex workers, call girls

  1. Pingback: Posts about bollywood as of April 13, 2009 | Shirasmane

  2. Marc

    Great film collection. Great film cutting work.

    It shows to me:

    – how boulevardesc films reproduces stereotypes and stigmatization already entrenced within society. They are just a mirror, which can beautifully researched…

    – how the exotic figure of a prostitute is used a symbol of wilde, unconform sexuality and lifestyle…

    – how to promote the sale of a film and media product by exployting the topic of selling sex: “Sex sells, but selling sex sells even better”.

    Here is a check list:
    Is it worth your while as a sex worker to participate in a film project, a film report, a TV interview? (english by google) (German original)

  3. Pingback: Sociological Images » Bollywood Portrayals of Sex Workers

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