THE INFLUENCE OF BOLLYWOOD FILMS ON PUNJABI SIKH YOUTHS’ PERCEPTION TOWARDS THE SIKH IDENTITY

Minority religion gets very less coverage, be it at school teachings or local media. With less than one percent population to represent themselves, the Sikhs in Malaysia, being a double minority in ethnic categorization often gets very limited media coverage and representation, let alone, an accurate portrayal. Bollywood movies are often time deduced to a cultural product of the Sikhs to non-Sikh Malaysians. With a severely lacking representation of Sikhs in local media and the inaccurate portrayal in Bollywood movies, the Sikh community tries to preserve as much of their religious identity as they can. This article is a humble attempt to analyze the influence of Bollywood films on Malaysian Punjabi Sikh youths’ perception on their religious identity. The study uses Hall’s encoding and decoding (1980) model to look at how does the Malaysian Punjabi Sikh youth interpret Bollywood films and its portrayal of Sikh characters which in return, influences their religious identity. By utilizing on one-on-one in-depth interviews, the researcher interviewed 15 Punjabi Sikh youth, age from 16-23 years consisting of eight males and seven females from Klang Valley until the data saturated. The study showed Sikh youth deduced turban as a vital factor in maintaining their religious identity. However, Bollywood movies cannot be considered as an influential or the only factor that affects the identity of a Sikh. Primary and secondary agent of socialization such as family members through daily life experiences, peer group and social media does play a vital role in changing youths’ perceptions about their idealistic and practical religious identity.

Keywords: Bollywood Films, Sikh Youth, Religious Identity, Perception and Media

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