Understanding Hindi Cinema Through Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs 

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Maslow argues that human needs are arranged in a hierarchy from most pressing to least pressing. His framework, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, suggests that humans try and satisfy their most pressing need first and then elevate themselves into satisfying the next most pressing need. We try and apply Maslow’s hierarchy of needs framework in understanding how the Hindi Cinema audiences and productions have evolved with.

Physiological Needs

Mother India, Do Bheega ZameenDuniyamein hum aayehain to jeena ho padegajeevanhaiagar zeher to peena hi padega.”

The post independent era of the 1950s-60s was an era where the Indian society was recovering from the period of slavery. The society was trying to meet its basic need of food, water, clothing, and shelter. Correspondingly, the movies of that period depicted the struggles of the society towards it strive for sustenance. Popular among them were Do Bigha ZameenMother India, and Jagte Raho.

Safety Needs

Shehenshah, Mere Apne, GharondaDo deewane sheher meinraat mein aur dopaha rmein,aabodaana dhoondte hainek aashiyana dhoondte hain”

The 70s brought to the society some stability in the farm sector and early phase of urbanization. The urbanization brought about with itself unemployment that was fueled by the socialist regime. The frustration of unemployment and urbanization elevated the society to address the second need of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs – the need for safety. Correspondingly, the movies of that period depicted the Indian society striving for employment, a home for each individual, and establishment of law and order. Popular among them were Zanjeer, GharondaMere Apne, and Shehenshah.

Need for Belongingness

Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayengay, Mohabbatein

“…hum akele ho najaye, door tumse ho najayepaasaaogale se lagalo…”

The era of the late 80s had seen initial phase of liberalization in the Indian economy. This lead to rising incomes, breaking of social stigmas, and consolidation of the Indian society. The movies of this era and the 90s shifted their focus from the angry young men to the romantic boys who did all they could to win the love of their life above everything else. The 90s was popularized as the “era of Love” by the Hindi Cinema.

The Need for Esteem

Accompolishmentiss team ka har player, apne zindagi ki sabse achhihockey khelle, to yeh 70 minutekhuda bhi tumse nahi chheensakta.”

The beginning of the new millennium was the beginning of a new India, a young and inspirational India. It sought direction and aspired to excel. Be it in IT, or in sports, young India was roaring with the buzz of achievements and laurels. To be in sync with this India, moviegoers tapped into stories of success and inspiration, tapping into esteem need from the hierarchy of needs. Key among those that brought goosebumps are Chak De and Iqbal.

The Need for Self Actualization


Kab Tak Ginein,HumDhadkanein Dil Jaise Dhadke DhadakneDo, 

Kyun Hai Koi Aag Dabi Shola Jo Bhadke Bhadakne Do.

The last few years of Hindi Cinema and that of the Indian society are periods of self-discovery, periods of where what we are, where we stand, and how we perform up to our true potential. The song is of freedom, flight is that of a Siberian crane, and the goal of taking the world and painting it red!!



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