Hardigg Family Fund Lecture

Dartmouth Events

Hardigg Family Fund Lecture

Kathleen Erndl (Florida State University). "Goddesses, Women, and Star Persona in Bollywood Film"

Thursday, January 28, 2016
Room 002, Rockefeller Center
Intended Audience(s): Public
Categories: Lectures & Seminars

Title: "Goddesses, Women, and Star Persona in Bollywood Film"

Abstract: "Madhuri Dixit, known for her many Hindi language films in the 1990s, is the quintessential Bollywood goddess. Even today, she is still the model for aspiring actresses. Dixit’s appeal lies largely in what audiences perceive to be an ideal balance of female strength, sexiness, and wholesomeness, as well as her versatility and skill in dance.  She has played roles ranging from the girl-next-door in Hum Aap Ke Hain Koun! (1994) to a virtuous undercover agent turned cabaret dancer in Khannayak (1993) to an ideal wife who restores order in the family in Beta (1992) to the fierce avenging Goddess in Anjaam (1994) and Mrityudand (1997).   Fan responses to Madhuri, as even a casual look at YouTube comments on her film dance clips reveal, border on adoration.  Celebrated (and controversial) Indian artist M.F. Hussain echoed this public adulation when he declared Madhuri to be the epitome of Indian womanhood and did a series of paintings with her in the guise of various Hindu goddesses.  Not only is he said to have seen her film Hum Aap Ke Hain Koun! (1994) 85 times, he also made a film Gaja Gamini (2000), in which she, as the feminine force, appears as various women throughout history all over the world.  There is even a shrine to her in Jamshedpur, where her photograph is worshipped as the Hindu goddess Durga.  Using film theorist Vijay Mishra’s concept of the “actor as parallel text,” analyses of several of her key films, and audience receptions of these films, I argue that Madhuri Dixit’s stardom and near divinization mirror the complexities, ambiguities, and contradictions among ideals for women in contemporary India."

Kathleen M. Erndl (Florida State Univ.) teaches in the field of South Asian religions, especially Hinduism, as well as gender and religion, popular Hindi cinema, and Sanskrit. Professor Erndl's publications include Victory to the Mother: The Hindu Goddess of Northwest India in Myth, Ritual and Symbol (Oxford, 1993), a co-edited collection of essays entitled Is the Goddess a Feminist? The Politics of South Asian Goddesses (New York University Press and Sheffield Academic Press, 2001), and articles on Sakta traditions, spirit possession, women's religious expressions, methodology, gender issues in Hinduism, and religion in Indian Cinema. She is currently writing a book entitled The Play of the Mother: Women, Goddess Possession, and Power in Hinduism. Other research interests include interactions among Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists in India, cross-cultural appropriations of Indian goddesses in North America, Hinduism in the Caribbean, and Bollywood. Professor Erndl has been the recipient of fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, Fulbright-Hayes, and the American Institute of Indian Studies.

Free and open to all. Reception follows.

For more information, contact:
Marcia Welsh

Events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.