Cinematic Narrative of Disability in Post Independent India: A Case Study of Mother India

  • Nilakshi Goswami Boston University
Keywords: Hindi popular cinema, disability, Mother India, Nation, Post independent India


Jenny Morris argues that cultural representations of disability mostly center on the feelings of the non-disabled and their reactions to disability, instead of focusing on the disability itself. Addressing Mehboob Khan’s Mother India (1957), a movie based on an agrarian society of Western Gujarat in the newly independent India, the paper examines the implied meaning of being disabled in a socialist society of India through its cinematic narrations. Post-independent Hindi popular cinema embraced farming life as its fundamental narrative trope to disseminate the idea of a self-sufficient independent nation, especially in the wake of Jawaharlal Nehru's Five-Year Plan for industrial development. Interspersed between nationalism and the myth of socialism, the subject of disability has, however, been overlooked over the years. This paper, thereby, examines the rural/peasant/agrarian nexus within the conflicting cinematic representations of the absent-disabled citizen as a lacuna in this newly emerging independent India.