Representation of Indo-Pakistan relations in Hindi cinema: Analysis and comparison of the films Veer Zaara and Bajrangi Bhaijaan with the main focus on border-crossings


Anja Vukadin

  • Betreuung: Martin Gaenszle

This Master's Thesis focuses on the analysis of two selected Hindi films, Veer Zaara, released 2004, and Bajrangi Bhaijaan, released 2015, and discusses the following research question: To which extent has the form of the plot and the depiction of symbolic elements representing current Indo–Pakistan relations changed in recent years?

The independence of India resulted in the creation of a new state, Pakistan and a newly established border, which soon became a topic in the Hindi film productions. This thesis deals with border–crossing aspects of Indo–Pakistan relations. The selected films Veer Zaara (Yash Chopra, 2004) and Bajrangi Bhaijaan (Kabir Khan, 2015) recognize cultural and religious differences that create barriers between India and Pakistan. They were both well received in both states, in contrary to most Hindi films on this subject, which were banned in Pakistan.

Relevant screenshots and dialogue are analyzed, using standard film analysis methodology, and theoretical reflections take inspiration from Borderland Studies. Making use of concepts developed in Cultural Studies the socio-political importance and meaning of the film are examined.

Political circumstances have changed during the eleven-year gap between the release of Veer Zaara and Bajrangi Bhaijan. This can be observed in the selected films in the form of a moderate change in the depiction of practical aspects (especially visa and border–crossing issues) of the historical development of state–affairs in Indo–Pakistan relations.

As a by-product of this analysis it is observed that the depiction of Indo-Pakistan relationships became more humorous and friendly in the course of time, resulting in increased popularity of Bajrangi Bhaijaan in Pakistan.