Women and Terrorism: Questions of Representation in Bollywood Cinema

Natalia N. Ahmed
Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts


The literature around Indian cinema as a whole, including cinema about terrorism, presents a lack of knowledge about female protagonists in these films. By using the method of textual analysis, this paper explores the representation of women in four Bollywood films about terrorism from the late 1990s and early 2000s — Dil Se (1992), Fiza (2000), Dhokha (2007), and Kurbaan (2009). The study explores the relations constructed between men and women on screen, and provides a framework to look at the representation of women in films. The paper argues that women are represented as individuals without agency of their own or agency is only provided once the male figure disappears. In one film out of four, female agency is present (in Fiza, 2000) to recover the male figure, but not for the woman’s own existence.

Keywords: Terrorism, Female Agency, Female Terrorists, Bollywood Cinema