Fostering Scientific Temper in India: Can Bollywood be a Catalyst?

Deka, Junali ; SHUKLA, SHRUTI ; ARORA, NEHA

Abstract

As the nation fervently and rightfully celebrates ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’, it is yet pertinent to investigate the status quo of scientific temper among the citizens to estimate the progress and development of our heterogeneous society. The very foundation of Indian democracy propagates the idea of a society with a scientific mindset. Two important areas, under the backdrop of the ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’, where the existence of scientific temper is to be investigated or rather reinvestigated are sanitation and menstrual hygiene because of certain deeply ingrained unscientific beliefs and practices dominant in our society. Cinema is a quintessential mass media to popularize the need for societal reforms. Taking leverage of it, cinema can act as an indispensable tool of change in society. In view of it, we embarked on evaluating the impact of four women-centric Bollywood films namely Toilet Ek Prem Katha (2017), PadMan (2018), Mission Mangal (2019) and Shakuntala Devi (2020)in instilling the spirit of scientific enquiry and reform. The study carries out a thematic analysis followed by a quantitative approach to decipher the mindset of people of various academic backgrounds and regions. It identifies two groups of women –(i) a neo-liberal group who is seen as a promoter of science and (ii) a group who is the bearer and victim of unscientific societal norms. It could also be inferred that due to the limited outreach of films, scientific temper is still managing to evade the doorstep of common people.

Keyword(s)

Scientific temper; Bollywood; Sanitation; Menstrual hygiene

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