This Teacher’s Day, we’re looking at the gendered and objectified manner in which Bollywood represents its female teachers.
What’s the first thing that pops in your head if we ask you to think about teachers in Bollywood? No matter which character you think of, they’re bound to fall into these two types- it’s either Narayan Shankar from Mohabbatein, (the authoritative patriarch kind) or Ms. Chandni from Main Hoon Na (the objectified and unrealistic female teacher kind).
Despite the fact that we traditionally think of teaching as an innately female profession, Bollywood still refuses to acknowledge, or create female teachers who are wholesome and real or relatable in any way. So this Teachers Day, watch the video as we explore how Bollywood has the tendency to objectify its female teachers and why there’s a lack in this representation of female characters as teachers.
The Gendered Portrayal Of Female Teachers In Bollywood
Despite the fact that the teaching career is looked at as an innately feminine profession, most of the good representations of teachers in Bollywood are all male characters.
Aamir Khan in Taare Zameen Par and Dangal, to an extent. Shah Rukh Khan in Mohabbatein and Chak De India, Rishi Kapoor in Do Dooni Chaar, Shahid Kapoor in Paathshala etc. etc.
So why is this happening?
Different question. Same answer.
Female characters in Bollywood are created to serve the male gaze.
Female representation in Bollywood has traditionally been limited to roles like the sacrificial mother, the nurturing lover, the violated sister whose honour needs to be fought for and the snarky mother-in-law. Female characters are often the muse for the man’s personal growth – mere crutches that propel the man’s journey and character arc.
So why should the teacher be any different? A teacher too, is viewed primarily as an object of male sexual fantasy, there to titillate and excite the male viewer. If that puts you off, think of the countless sketches of teachers in school washrooms, and you will know that this portrayal is deeply rooted in reality.
But as we celebrate Teacher’s Day this year, let’s hope we get more authentic, real and powerful female teachers – like so many of the real life ones.
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