Déjà Viewed: Nation, Gender, and Genre in Bollywood Remakes of Hollywood Cinema

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Steven Cohan


Bollywood, Movies commercial aspects

Subject Categories

Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Film and Media Studies | South and Southeast Asian Languages and Societies


Little has been written on transnational remakes. Most remake scholarship remains focused on Hollywood and explores issues of copyright and plagiarism or borrows from adaptation studies to interrogate concerns of homage, update, and anxiety of influence. On the other hand, while changes in the Bollywood film industry that have occurred since the 1990s--including its transnationalization, corporatization, and the related ideological mobilization of gender--have received a lot of critical attention, connections have yet to be made between these changes in the industry and the increase in and audience awareness of Bollywood remakes. "Déjà Viewed: Nation, Gender, and Genre in Bollywood Remakes of Hollywood Cinema" connects and contributes to both conversations: instead of deliberating on issues of imitation that recreate hierarchical binaries between Hollywood and Bollywood, this project approaches remakes as economic products thus shifting discussion on remakes within a context of industrial practices. Furthermore, the dissertation analyzes the Bollywood remake as a gendered response to changes brought about by globalization and the liberalization of India's economy.

"Déjà Viewed" looks closely at the intersection of cultural and industrial transformation in the remakes from 1990s onwards by analyzing the representation of gender in several genres. I argue that the Bollywood remakes in the post-liberalization decades try to fall back on (and update) the codes and conventions previously utilized by post-independence Hindi cinema in the 1950s. In films of that era, women were figured as the repositories of an imagined idea of "Indianness" so that the nation could be modernized through men. However, the borrowing from Western texts in the nineties and the later decades has resulted in hybridic treatments of codes and conventions that defamiliarize gender representations, a development which I argue is symptomatic of the changes wrought within the industry since the 1990s as it sought expansion into Western markets. The first chapter analyzes the Bollywood remake as a metaphor for the industry's simultaneous embrace and rejection of Westernization through the translation of the female protagonist. The next two chapters focus on gender and feminist debates but also explore the blurred boundaries between remakes and other economic categories like cycles, genres and sequels especially in a cross-cultural context. The last two chapters analyze masculinity and queerness in remakes that also indulge in auteurist homage and post-modern intertextuality. These chapters are also chronological, thus charting the changing process of remake from un-acknowledged imitation to self-reflexive pastiche, a process which is also reflective of Bollywood's trajectory from a decentralized industry run by a few producers to a government sanctioned and corporation-backed institution.


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