Reimagining Witches in Contemporary Hindi Cinema: A Study of “Bulbbul” and “Roohi”

Riya Mukherjee, Department of English, S.S. Khanna Girls’ Degree College, University of Allahabad, India
Suraj Gunwant, Department of English, Ewing Christian College, University of Allahabad, India
Published: July 29, 2022

Citation: Mukherjee, R., & Gunwant, S. (2022). Reimagining Witches in Contemporary Hindi Cinema: A Study of “Bulbbul” and “Roohi”. IAFOR Journal of Arts & Humanities, 9(1).


Witch-hunting, an age-old practice in India, survives in a myriad of avatars in rural and urban areas. These avatars of witch-hunting have often been trapped in the binary of Indian modernity and Indian traditions, with the latter often embracing unchallenged superstitious beliefs. Herein we study the way the binary is handled in two recent telefilms, namely Bulbbul and Roohi, as they aim to revolutionise the portrayal of witches in Hindi cinema. The paper looks at how the films in question subvert the genesis of witches and witch-hunts, and how in the process of undermining superstitious belief, they situate witches as embodiment of an emancipatory discourse that resists the silencing of women, a practise still serves the patriarchal standards of a heteronormative, bourgeois society. In so doing, our reading of the films engages with questions such as: How have witches been defined in Indian culture? How are these witches being imagined in the films in question? What implications do these redefinitions have in terms of the feminist movement in India, or in terms of the larger portrayal of Indian women in Hindi cinema?


Bulbbul, Hindi cinema, Roohi, witch hunting, witches