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Portrayal Of Homosexuals In Bollywood Film Industry Sociology Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 3565 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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This study on the perception on the portrayal of homosexuals in Bollywood film industry was majorly chosen as homosexuals have always been a topic the researcher wants to research on. Moreover there have been several research on homosexuals laws, their societal status, their recognition in the society, their rights, etc. but there have been less study in relation of homosexuals in media that to in the Indian film industry – Bollywood. After the case and the controversies of the movie FIRE people in India have got an idea about homosexuals but they have still not come out and spoke about it or have accepted them as a part of their societies. Major protest, rallies have been taking place on recent schedules in India in different cities by these homosexual people but the society has still not stood up to answer them. India has about 2.5 million homosexuals which makes it 15-20 % of the population. Further few studies conducted in relation to this topic say that homosexuals have a bad image in the society as they are the minorities and they are seen as negative people in the society. So the researcher carried with the research on the portrayal of the homosexuals in the Bollywood movies their perception in South India.

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If any well-educated man is asked to control is sexuality towards a women he would say NO they why does the society see homosexuals alone in a different way? Just because they are minority in the society? Doesn’t every individual have their own rights in selection of their sexuality that to from a democratic country like us? The question that is yet to be answered is whether to start discussing these complex issues such a gays and lesbianism. Clearly the place of them in the culture is one of the central debates for decades and media representation will continue to be contested terrain for some time.

Homosexuality, it is true that it was practiced in the ancient era and other parts of the world including few tribes of Africa where it is still practiced. But in today’s world it is a known concept and practice in major parts of the countries and cities. In India on a continuous basis different rally’s has been taking place in the major cities such as Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi to educate people about the group and also to seek their own rights in the society. From culture to sex everything is related to education it starts from there. Thus this topic homosexuality has been chosen by the researcher in an attempt to make the general public aware of the existing relationship between similar sexes and to help this minority to gain their basic rights.

Among all the media in the mass communication field, cinema is the most powerful and a popular one. Films being the main source of entertainment in India, people of every section of the society like to watch and enjoy movies. The lack of alternative mode of entertainment in rural centers had resulted in the emerging cinema and it is also a cheap form of entertainment for the lower classes who’s only other mode of entertainment is chit chatting and roaming in the streets.

When cinema has the power to attract so many people in a society like us, one can imagine the influence it has on the audience life style, but at the same time one cannot also deny the fact that the reel is similar to the real. Especially in Indian movies, cinema in a way reflects our society. It is also a form of social phenomenon. Cinema makes use of all the socio-cultural beliefs and as and how situations changes the film makers also change the pattern of presenting it to the public.

All these specialties of Bombay cinema makes it a powerful instrument of image and opinion building in the minds of our society. Films are a social document and representation of reality. In the case of homosexuality there has been a lot of information provided in the printed, television and the internet but when it comes to cinema there is a separate genre called the “Queer Cinema”. How effectively has this genre reflected its main concern that is the homosexuality is the reason behind the selection of this topic by the researcher.

Films being a great artifact of the society at these times, they have a great and deep impact on their audiences. And keeping the Indian audience in mind film has been selected to be the most appropriate mediums it goes across the literacy level and encompasses all sections of the Indian population society, so the best medium to reach out to society and to examine the portrayal of homosexuality is through films especially Bollywood films.


The objective of the study is to examine the portrayal of homosexuals in the Bollywood films through both Quantitative as well as Qualitative research methods.

To understand how Bollywood Films as a form of media has portrayed the homosexuality?

To comprehend the Perception of the Homosexuals on the Portrayal of homosexuality in the Bollywood Films?

To examine the perception of media professionals and the public on the portrayal of homosexuality in Bollywood Films?


Homosexuals: they are people who get attracted to the same sex mentally, physically and sexually.

Gay/Lesbians: Gay is when a man is attracted to another man mentally, physically and sexually. Lesbian is when a woman is attracted to another woman mentally, physically and sexually.

LGBT: Expansion – lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender. It is a community to help the minorities in the society.

Queer culture: The pattern of life, behavior, attitude, relationships of the members of society who has an alternative sexual orientation.

Queer Films: The movies whose central themes are based on same-sex relationships.

Homophobia: Homophobia is a feeling of hatred or fear towards the homosexuals. Negative attitude towards non-heterosexual people and also hostility towards them.

Sexual minority: People in the societies who are less in number and discriminated in accordance with their sexuality or orientation or gender identity.

Perception: The process by which people translate sensory impressions into a coherent and unified view of the world around them. Though necessarily based on incomplete and unverified (or unreliable) information, perception is equated with reality for most practical purposes and guides human behavior in general. (Business Dictoinary)


Research is a way thinking, analyzing examining critically the various aspects of day to day professional life understanding and formulating procedures that govern a particular procedure and testing it with theories for enhancement of the studies. In simple words it is one of the ways to find answer to a question. In this particular study the research is done to find out the perception of public, homosexuals and media professionals on the portrayal of homosexuals in the Bollywood films.

“Research is a process of collecting analyzing and interpreting information to answer questions” (Berger, 2000)

To do a research there are two methods:

The Qualitative 2) The Quantitative.

Qualitative research is generally conducted to know the standard the quality and the analysis of a particular topic. Whereas quantitative research is done on the validation of a number or numeric. The researcher did both Qualitative and Quantitative study.

3.4.1 Methods of data collection

Methods of Data Collection

Secondary Sources

Primary Sources





Mail Questionnaire







GOVT Publications

Earlier Research


Personal Records

Client Histories

Service records

(Cited from Research Methodologies, Ranjit Kumar-2005, pg. 118) (Kumar, 2005)

3.4.2 Quantitative Research:

Different researchers have Different definitions for quantitative research methods. According to Cohen and Manion (Cohen & Manion, 1980), quantitative research is a social process that involves empirical methods and statements. He explains empirical statement as descriptive statement about what is the case and real world that what ought to be. Whereas, John Creswell (Creswell,1994) he defined quantitative research as a type of research that explains phenomena by collecting any numerical data that are analyzed using mathematics (in particular statics).

“In a quantitative project, the problem is best addressed by understanding what factors or variables influence an outcome.” (Creswell, 1994)

The word quantity comes from a Latin word meaning “quantitas”.This particular research method measures, counts, focuses and it is statistical , describes and predicts and finally leads to hypothesis and theory. There are different methods of conducting quantitative research but in this particular study the researcher adopted surveying method to collect data from the general public and to know their perception on the portrayal of homosexuality in Bollywood movies.


“Surveying design provides a quantitative or numeric description of trends, attitudes, or opinions of a population by studying a sample of that population.” (Cresw,1994) . A research method used to get information from particular or certain groups which represent a larger group of people who are to the interest to us. We concentrate things on what people know, what they think, they do, their attitudes, beliefs, behaviors etc. There are two kinds of surveys: Descriptive surveys and Analytical surveys. Surveys collect data in two methods:

Interviews or the self-administrated questionnaires. Questionnaire is a list of questions which is passed over to a large number of people and they are asked to answer it and hand it over to the senders. Interviews can be group, individual, and personal through face to face or even telephone. This method is in-expensive and it is very common. In this method information can be attained at one time because it collects quantitative and numeric data. (Berger, 2000)

Advantages and Disadvantages of Quantitative Research Methods:


Enables the description of the social structure that is not directly observable.

Well suited for comparison between groups, areas, etc.

None biased and Analysis is between social phenomenon

Well suited for Quantitative description

Description of change is applicable.


Applicable only for measureable phenomena

Simplifies the complex reality

Difficult to study process and dynamic phenomena

Description of perspective, meaning and intentions are difficult.

3.4.3 Qualitative Research Method

Qualitative research is focussed on deeper significance that the subject the researcher aspires to research one. Interpretive, naturalistic approaches to the subjects are a part of the qualitative research analysis. It gives more importance to the data collected or existing information.

Qualitative researches rely on text and image data, have unique steps in data analysis and draw on diverse strategies of inquiry (Creswell, 1994). There are several characteristics for qualitative research methods:

It takes place in natural setting.

Uses multiple methods that are interactive and humanistic.

It is emergent rather than tightly prefigured.

It is fundamentally interpretive.

It is via a social phenomenon.

It totally depends on the participants and their biography and their information.

Complex reasoning’s are used.

Types of data collection in qualitative research methods are:


Completer participant

Observer as participant

Participant as observer

Complete observer


Face to face





Public documents

Private documents

Email discussions

Audiovisual materials



Art objects

Computer software


The word quality is from a Latin word “qualitas” meaning “what kind?” It involves matters such as text, degree of excellence and distinguishing characteristics. The common qualitative research methods are

Field Studies

Focus Group

In-depth interviews

Case studies

Content Analysis

In this particular study the researcher had chosen qualitative method in which he would conduct in-depth interviews to get the perception of the homosexuals and the media professionals.

In-Depth Interview:

In-depth Interview also called as Intensive interview are hybrid one to one conversation or communication. “In-depth interviewing is qualitative research technique that involves conducting intensive individual interviews with a small number of respondents to explore their perspective on a particular idea, programme or situation.” (Boyce & Neale, May 2006)

Qualities of intensive interviews are:

Small samples

Gives a detailed background and specific answers

Lengthy observation of respondents.

Customized to individual respondents

The rapport between the interviewer and respondent matter

Process of conducting in-depth interview :


Develop Instrument

Train Data Collectors

Collect data

Analyze Data

Disseminate Findings.

Advantages and Disadvantages of in-depth interview (Boyce & Neale, May 2006)


Wealth of details the method provides

Data is more accurate responses on sensitive issues when compared to other methods such as survey

The rapport between the interviewer and respondent is easy to develop

Practical in nature

Information obtained through this method is virtually impossible to be obtained from other method.

Defectiveness is involved


Generalization Takes place sometimes

Sensitive to interviewer Bias

Sometimes problems in Data analysis


“It is selected a model when a researcher uses two different methods in an attempt to confirm, cross-validate or corroborate findings with a single study.” (Greene & Caracelli, 1997)

Triangulation is a research method used in combination of several research methodologies in the study of the same phenomenon. In this particular research a combination of qualitative and quantitative is used for the study. This traditional method was originally used in social science research studies. It is an appropriate method in studying the credibility of the qualitative research analysis. It is one of the mixed method models in the research methods. This traditional model uses both quantitative as well as qualitative in balancing both the methods negatives and doing an in-depth research. The triangulation research process has different models such a convergence, Data Transformation Model, Validating Quantitative Data Model, Multilevel Model. In this particular research the researcher used triangulation model to collect data’s from all the groups and to validate data.

In this particular study the researcher had chosen the triangulation method for a comparative analysis of the perception of the homosexuals, media professionals and the public on the portrayal of homosexuality in the Bollywood movies.

-Triangulation Convergence Model: (Creswell & Clark, Mixed Method Research, 2007)


QUAN-Data Analysis

QUAN-Data Collection

Interpretation – QUAL+ QUAN


And Contrast


Data Collection



QUAL – Data analysis

-Advantages and Disadvantages of Triangulation research method: (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2007)


Overall interpretation is from variety of different factors.

Cross validation.

Balance between methods.

Well validated and sub-stantiated findings and well known for many researchers.


Increased amount of time needed in comparison of both the methods data collected.

Difficulty of dealing with the vast amount of data.


“Sampling is the tradition of metric research to develop claims that generalize across populations of people, media industries, media texts and the like.” (Anderson, 2012)

Therefore most of the research involves some method of sampling that enters a set of population in the research. There are basically two types of sampling: Probability and Non-probability sampling.

Probability Sampling: It is when each one of the population has an equal or known chances of selection. The best of this sampling method is that every member of the population either in equal chances as in simple random sampling or known chances as in

Stratified random sampling. This method gives each and every individual a chance of being selected.

Non-Probability Sampling: This method of sampling requires more concentration and thought more than probability sampling. This method can still represent a population in the criterion basis. Every effort has to be made for the control of the sources and to avoid errors in the study. There are different types of non-probability sampling. They are:

Convenience Samples: In this sample the analyst attempts to anticipate the arguments against its acceptance.

Quota and Judgment Samples: This sampling method needs to ensure that the evidence for the quota values and the judgments made is strong enough to justify their use.

Panel Studies: The research panel will draw out a random sample drawn according to best practices.

Snowball Sampling :

Snowball sampling another type of non-probability sampling and a method which will be used in this particular study. Snowball sampling is when one particular participants help is finding out other participants. In simple terms it can be called as the respondent -driven sample. This method is greatly affected by the initial point of access- the one who starts the snowball. This method requires advance knowledge on the set of population that’s being sampled. This particular sampling method helps in understanding the entire group of sample to be studied but it is a complex method as it is difficult for analysis and errors might take place due to communication process. The researcher adopted this method in finding out samples for the qualitative research methods to examine the perception of the homosexuals about the portrayal of homosexuality in Bollywood movies. The researcher interviewed a samples size of 10 for the in-depth interview and one extended interview that is with a sample one for the media professional’s perceptions about the portrayal of homosexuality in Bollywood movies.

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Purposive Sampling:

“The purposive sampling technique, also called judgment sampling, is the deliberate choice of an informant due to the qualities the informant possesses.” ( Dolores & C. Tongco, 2007) This sampling is a non-probability sampling method which does not need any of the underlying theories or set of informants. “Simply put, the researcher decides what needs to be known and sets out to find people who can and are willing to provide the information by virtue of knowledge or experience “(Bernard 2002, Lewis & Sheppard 2006).

For the quantitative method the researcher has adopted survey method with non-probability sampling i.e. purposive sampling and collected questionnaires from people in south India who has watched Bollywood movies. A sample size of 150 was collected from which the researcher got about 120 completed questionnaires. The age group concentrated was from the 18-30. The table below will explain the distribution of the survey method sample by age and gender. Sample will be equally distributed among the gender and age so that the analysis is not gender or age biased.

Table 3.1: Distribution of respondents according sex


Per cent

Valid Per cent

Cumulative Per cent
















Table 3.2: Distribution of Respondents by Age


Per cent

Valid Per cent

Cumulative Per cent























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