Artist Annu Palakunnathu Matthew originally created her portfolio Bollywood Satirized during what she calls her “angry young woman” years in the late ’90s. In the series, Matthew digitally manipulated Indian film posters to “humorously challenge traditional gender roles and cultural norms of Indian society.”
“I wanted to create a project that related to my experiences growing up in India,” said Matthew, who moved to the country from England when she was ten. “Using the Bollywood posters as a starting point seemed obvious as they are very melodramatic and a perfect medium for blatant satirical commentary so that I can humorously challenge traditional gender roles and behavior in Indian society.”
The original works tackled themes like dowries, sexual double standards, and domestic violence. Asked how the Indian community reacted to the project at the time, Matthew notes that “The posters were not made to be liked and I have had mixed responses, especially in the early 2000‘s but lots of conversation and dialogue.”
Matthew recently updated the project with three3 new images in reaction to the brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old Delhi woman last December. Perhaps the most powerful piece is #DelhiRAPE, which features clueless statements made by high profile Indian politicians in the wake of the incident transposed over an image of a couple fleeing a group of masked men.
“Unfortunately incidents like the Delhi rape happen all the time but this one struck a nerve,” said Matthew. “First, because of the extreme brutality but also because she was an aspiring middle class woman, someone many of us can relate to.”
“I hope this tragedy prevents such incidents from reoccurring and it creates a shift in cultural attitudes towards women.”
Readers can view the entire Bollywood Satirized portfolio here.