What Bollywood Thinks Female Teachers Do

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4 min read

A very Happy Teacher’s Day to everyone (except Bollywood).

Why does Bollywood refuse to take its female teachers seriously? 

Despite the fact that the teaching career is looked at as an innately feminine profession, most of the good representations of teachers in Bollywood are all male characters. Aamir Khan in Taare Zameen Par and Dangal, to an extent. Shah Rukh Khan in Mohabbatein and Chak De India, Rishi Kapoor in Do Dooni Chaar, Shahid Kapoor in Paathshala etc. etc. 

So, why is this happening? 

Different question. Same answer. Female characters in Bollywood are created to serve the male gaze. 

Here’s What Bollywood Thinks Female Teachers Do:

  1. Give their students makeovers
Miss Chandni in Main Hoon Na

A real teacher is always willing to help her students realise their true potential through foundation and lipstick.

  1. Carry knitting needles around with them everywhere 
Mrs. Kakkar in Main Hoon Na

Because knitting needles = universal indicator of homely and harmless Hindi teacher.

Teaching as a profession for a woman is often shown to simply be an extension of her domestic and maternal nature. Rather than her proficiency in her subject or teaching ability, films continue to use them as just love interests or comedic relief.

  1. They use… unconventional teaching methods
Tanya in Desi Boyz

How else is a female teacher expected to hold her students’ attention and get them to learn??

  1. They get their way by flirting with the principal. 
Mrs. Braganza in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai

We’ve all seen kuch kuch happening between the Mrs Braganzas and Mr Malhotras of our schools, right! Right…?

Wrong. Female teachers on screen continue to either be dismissed and disregarded as a source of entertainment, or sexualised as an object of desire.  

5. They exist solely to corrupt young girls…

Ms Rekha in Lust Stories

All female teachers have a monthly plan for Young Girl Corruption, and choose their outfits based on the level of corruption intended for that day. It’s in the Good Female Teacher handbook, look it up.

6. … And excite young boys. 

Rasbhari

A female teachers’ most important responsibility – becoming a muse in a pubescent boy’s journey.

Over the years we have definitely seen some (rare) wholesome representations of women as teachers, like Rani Mukherjee in Hitchki, Divya Dutta in Stanley ka Dabba, or Gayatri Joshi in Swades

But the truth is that most on-screen female characters have always simply been muses for the man’s personal growth – mere crutches  that propel the man’s journey and character arc. So, why should the teacher be any different?

As we celebrate Teacher’s Day this year, here’s hoping we get to see more authentic and powerful female teachers in reel, to represent and celebrate the amazing ones we know in real.

You’re invited! Join the Kool Kanya women-only career Community where you can network, ask questions, share your opinions, collaborate on projects, and discover new opportunities. Join now.

Sanjana writes far too little to call herself a writer and reads far too much pop-culture fiction to call herself a reader. She once received a Special Mention for the Best Young Critic Award by MAMI, and refuses to stop talking about it. Her love for films, art, and theatre runs deep and is only borderline pretentious. She detests writing in third person but can be convinced to engage in it occasionally.

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