Deafness, Kinship, and Formal Possibility in Bollywood




Deafness, disability, Bollywood, sound studies, kinship


This article focuses on two films in popular Hindi cinema (Bollywood) – Koshish and Barfi! – that put Deaf protagonists at the center of romantic comedies. It moves beyond typical studies of disability as a device of characterization and locates meaning instead in under-analyzed elements of filmic production. These include sound production, plot structure, and their unique entanglement in Bollywood through the picturized song-sequence. Songs pose a special challenge for stories about Deaf protagonists, one which Koshish treats as a problem requiring "accommodation," and Barfi addresses as an opportunity for "Deaf gain." At a deeper level, Bollywood "provincializes" some key assumptions within the primarily Eurocentric field of disability studies and its frequent association with another Eurocentric field, queer theory. While crip theory follows queer theory's opposition to the "reproductive" time of conjugality, this stance flattens differences between the two communities, and depends on a misunderstanding of what "reproduction" entails. Bollywood romantic comedies, by contrast, create a space to rethink disabled kinmaking. Here the films are reversed: Koshish, though older, offers a more radical negotiation of social reproduction, while Barfi! is somewhat more conventional in its imagined future for disabled families.




How to Cite

Kantor, R. L. (2024). Deafness, Kinship, and Formal Possibility in Bollywood. Disability Studies Quarterly, 43(3).