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Identifying Challenges: Minority Identity Formation and Media Cultural Isolation in India

Abstract

‘Secular’ India has around 79.8% of the population of Indians practicing Hinduism and 14.2% adheres to Islam, while the remaining 6% adheres to other religions (Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism and various indigenous ethnically-bound faiths). The minority population has always tried to maintain amiable relationship by sharing their culture and history with all other communities. This is apparent through the fact that Indian films based on the largest minority background have always remained extremely popular among viewers and has been treated as one of the leading parameters of cultural and sociological expression throughout the world. It is not difficult to imagine and experience the effects of films in various aspects of societies – cultural, sociological, psychic and political. The Hindi mainstream cinema undoubtedly has a tremendous influence on Indian psychology. Literature behind the history of Indian cinema can be traced back from the 1920s when the era had seen the colonial rule. On top of this, observers claimed that during this period the Hindi film was a melting pot of cultures and Indian ‘secularism’. Hindi cinema is neither politically innocent nor conveys an unequivocal secularism. It has many times predicated the politics of inequality and escapism. ‘Minority’ in India have faced marginalization and discrimination since postcolonial foundation. The situation in India can thus function as an example for the West, as the effects of the war on terror may replicate the transformations Indian ‘Minority’ go through elsewhere. Despite the nation’s proud self-identification as secular and democratic, ‘Minority’ who defied partition and remained in India are tacitly considered second-class citizens and their loyalty is always questioned. This paper is in an attempt to study the shifting trend in representation of the ‘Minority’ in popular culture and mainstream cinema. It is also an attempt to study the change through the pre independence era, then through the first 25 years after independence and finally from the 90s till date.

Aishwarya Chatterjee

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