Podcast: Dr. Salman Akhtar on History of Hindi Cinema or Bollywood Part-2

Dr. Salman Akhtar

Dr. Salman Akhtar

Dr. Salman Akhtar talks about the 100 year old  history of Bollywood or Hindi cinema in this multi-part interview. Dr. Akhtar comes from a family of poets and writers in India. His father Jan Nisar Akhtar worked in Hindi film industry as a lyricist and poet. His mother Safia Akhtar was a talented writer & poet.  His brother Javed Akhtar is a well-known writer and lyricist in Bollywood.

In Part-2 of our conversation Dr.Akhtar talks about the roots of Hindi cinema that is an amalgamation of Parsi theatre and other traveling theatres in India. During the early period Hindi films were predominately about mythologies and then in the 1950s there was shift to family oriented and love triangle stories.  Dr. Akhtar says there was a profound sexual anxiety theme in many of these films and women were split into 2 categories: the good woman and the vamps. Men did not exhibit comfortable sexuality towards women during this period and neither was it acceptable.There was a false understanding of women during this period he says.

Therefore when a man got married in Hindi films, the picture ended. There was a reluctance to go into the intimate side of a marriage or a relationship. Raj Kapoor was probably the one exception when it comes to exploring female sexuality he adds.

As an example Dr. Akhtar looks at the iconic song Roop Tera Mastana from Shakti Samanta’s “Aradhana.”  The song is in a man’s voice and there is not one active affirmation of female sexuality he points out. He explores the theme of female sexuality in Hindi cinema in Part-3 of our conversation.

This interview was recorded in 2006.


In case you missed here is Part-1 of our conversation where Dr. Salman Akhtar talks about his family and what got him interested in the history of Hindi cinema. Dr. Akhtar is a Psychiatrist and a professor at Thomas Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He has has written extensively on  psychiatry, psychoanalysis and about poetry and films.

And here is a video of the song Roop Tera Mastana from “Aradhana” starring Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore.