Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bollywood Lawyers

Apar Gupta, Amity Law School and Columbia Law School, has published Tareek Par Tareek: The Archetype and the Ethics of Indian Lawyers as Depicted in Popular Hindi Cinema. Here is the abstract.
Few would quarrel with the influence and significance of popular culture on society. However culture is vaporous, hard to capture, harder to gauge. Besides pure democracy, the arts remain one of the most effective and accepted forms of cultural indicia. A song, dance or a painting may provide tremendous information on the cultural mores and practices of a society. Hence, in an agrarian community, a song may be a mere mundane hymn recital, the celebration of a harvest or the mourning of lost lives in a draught. It can even be all three. Similarly placed as songs and dance, popular movies serve functions beyond mere pop corn accompaniments. A movie can reaffirm old truths and crystallize new beliefs. Hence we do not find it awkward when a movie depicts a crooked politician accepting a bribe or a television anchor disdainfully chasing TRP’s. This happens because we already hold politicians in disrepute, and have recently witnessed sensationalistic news stories which belong in a Terry Prachet book rather than on prime time news. With its power and influence Hindi cinema has often dramatized courtrooms, judges and lawyers. This article argues that these dramatic representations define to a large extent an Indian lawyer’s perception in society. To identify the characteristics and the cornerstones of the archetype this article examines immensely popular Bollywood movies which have lawyers as its lead protagonists. Taking the evaluation further the Article finally examines these preconceived stereotypes against notable rulings on lawyer’s ethics. The article also seeks solutions to the lowering public confidence in the legal profession keeping in mind the problem of free speech and censorship. Finally, this article aims to put up a looking glass to lawyers, albeit tinted by drama, action, romance and the frequent song and dance sequences.

Full text is not currently available from SSRN.

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