Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - ECU Access Only


Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Communications and Arts


Faculty of Education and Arts


This thesis asks the question: How do the representations of Muslims in Hindi Popular Cinema deny the community identification with the nation. It establishes Hindi cinema as the 'de facto' national cinema and explores the nature of identity and communal relations between the two major Indian religious communities, Hindus and Muslims through an analysis of popular films. It identifies an imbalance in representations of Muslim life where few films show Hindus and Muslims as sharing social and cultural life or where Muslims are represented as modern subjects: an absence of films on 'partition', the division of the country which occurred at the moment of independence, in August 1947; and reproduces stereotypical representations of Muslims as 'the outsider', the villain, or the terrorist at different times in history. The thesis considers the impact of the animosity between Hindus and Muslims concurrent with the rise of Hindu nationalism on Hindi cinema's representations of Muslims. These cumulative representations and absences result in the abrogation of identity for them as citizens through public culture. But it also sees that the complete disavowal of this cinema is problematic for the Muslim participation in the industry, the possibility of the Muslim spectator pleasurable reading of Hindi films; and the observation that representations change over the period in question. The representations broadly move from the secular to the bigoted over the course of the period under consideration.