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Women Dominate Bollywood
|by Dr. Ratan Bhattacharjee|
Bygone are the days of male domination in Bollywood. Very few cinegoers have now time to think today of Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Rajesh Khanna, Amitabha Bacchan and Shah Rukh Khan and even Salman Khan in spite of the release of Ek Tha Tiger. They are all powerful actors with astounding acting oeuvre. But recent films do have now at the centre of the storyline a bold and beautiful woman who plays the pivotal role and not just the girl friend or wife of the hero possessing versatile qualities, the heroine is in the limelight of director's attention.
The beginning of this women domination in Bollywood might have started with Mother India which was the first golden hit of woman-centric film. However, it did not immeditately open the flood gate of women-dominated films and we had to wait for a few decades more for the directors to show interest more in women –power. In recent times release of the Bollywood films, women are seen everywhere. Chameli , Pyar Ke Side Effects, The Dirty Picture, No One Killed Jessica, Ragini MMS, Jhankaaar Beats , Aladin and Kahaani, Dor, Aisha, Turning 30, Heroine Chameli – all show that we have entered a new age of women-centric films. Water, The Exotic Marigold Hotel, 3 Mega Pixel or Mahall Assi with actress like Seema Azmi and others, women centric films have their sway on the mind of the cinegoers.
The image of woman as a maiden, beloved and sex bomb was depicted in many of the films acted by Hema Malini, Rekha and Smita Patil. The Bollywood films have started showing bold and beautiful women performing everywhere. The film Chakra which was released much earlier portrayed the suffering life of a woman. Today we have entered an era where women-centric films in a new way reign supreme. Here women do not suffer but they struggle for an identity of their own. Be it the Dirty Picture or Kahaani, or No One Killed Jessica, or Heroine – it is the freedom-seeking woman here, bold woman there and rebellious woman everywhere.
Dirty Picture which is a 2011 Indian film based on the biography of the South Indian actress Silk Smitha noted for her for her erotic roles. There are shadows of many of Smitha’s Southern contemporaries such as Nylon Nalini and Disco Shanti. It also resembles the personal lives of other women in popular culture, including Hollywood actress and sex symbol Marilyn Monroe.
In the Dirty Picture, the film producer, desperately seeking a hit, sees a starlet in the smalltime but sexy and extremely ambitious girl Reshma. He immediately rechristens her as Silk. She instantaneously renames him askeeda (worm) justifying that keede hi toh banate hain silk (worms produce silk). That smart and symbolic line pretty much sums up the bigger picture behind the dirty picture. The supposedly decent and respectable society is the one that makes a Silk out of Reshma and sex-symbol out of Silk.
Kahaani is a 2012 Indian thriller film directed and co-produced by Sujoy Ghosh in which Vidya Balan portrays the role of Vidya Bagchi, a pregnant woman in search of her missing husband, who is helped in her quest by Chatterjee and Siddiqui. After starring in strong female-oriented films in Ishqiya, No One Killed Jessica and The Dirty Picture, Kahaani was Balan's fourth consecutive film to settle herself permanently now in the bold and the beautiful image.
No One Killed Jessica is an Indian political crimethriller film which is starred by Rani Mukerji and Vidya Balan. Balan plays the character of Jessica’s elder sister, Sabrina Lal while Rani played the role of news reporter. Again women are shown as individuals not any more craving for male protection or contented with domestic chores of raising children or making food at home.
Within a week of “Paan Singh Tomar”, which should incontestably win Irrfan Khan the National Award for best actor, comes Kahaani” in which Vidya Balan is so flawlessly resplendent that one suspects the next year’s National Award too is already reserved for her. Playing Vidya Bagchi, a non-resident Indian (NRI) who lands in Kolkata heavily pregnant and immeasurably distressed by the disappearance of her husband, Vidya Balan doesn’t hit a single false note in the entire graph of her character’s fascinating journey. Kahaani is not an ordinary thrill-a-minute film about a search for a missing person. It’s a lot more. Bringing a virgin vitality to the suspense drama, the film strikes a captivating balance between realism in art and the art of courting realism, without losing the entertainment quotient. Vidya displays a rare understanding of her character’s exacerbated emotional and physical state.
Ishqiya is a film which was selected to be screened at the 34th Cairo International Film Festival. Vidya Balan is found trying to convince her husband, Vidyadhar Verma played by Adil Hussain, a local gang-lord, that he should surrender. He agrees, but is soon killed in a gas explosion. Vidya play the role of Krishna Verma, 30 years old, femme fatale, small-town girl, mysterious woman and forgotten widow; who is a bundle of contradictions. She was seen as a woman madly in love, as an object of desire, as a vision of purity and engaging herself in a lustful bout with another man.
Aisha is a 2010 film which is a modern day adaptation of the 1815 British novel , Emma by Jane Austen. Jhankaar Beats is a 2003 Bollywood film directed by Sujoy Ghosh and released by Pritish Nandy Communications. It stars Juhi Chawla and Riya Sen in the lead roles. In this film about love, friendship and music, the lovely Shanti with already one daughter is pregnant. Neel in the story of the film is an ace guitarist who has his own problems as he is insanely attracted to a pretty girl, Preeti played by Riya Sen but cannot muster the courage to talk to her. To make things worse, his father has decided that he is wasting his life and has given him an ultimatum —‘ find a girl in two months or settle down with a wife chosen by parents’.
Again a woman-centric film is there. Pyaar Ke Side Effects is a romantic comedy, and portrays the intricacies of a modern relationships . Chameli is a Hindi movie, which was starred by Kareena Kapoor. Chameli is the bold story of a prostitute played by Kareena Kapoor. Aman Kapoor, played by Rahul Bose an investment banker, lost his pregnant wife, Neha played by Rinke Khanna in a car accident on a rainy night. The accident left him depressed and lonely. He drowned his grief with alcohol and smoking. Chameli (Kareena Kapoor) is a prostitute who was sold to a brothel by her uncle when she was young. She is now a tough, street-smart woman. On one rainy night, Aman and Chameli, two strangers, meet each other in South Mumbai and the story of the woman follows.
The Arab folktale of ‘Aladdin and the Magic Lamp’ from the classic book ‘One Thousand and One Nights’ gets a Bollywood makeover in director Sujoy Ghosh’s film Aladin', starring. The last year’s IIFA was in her homeland Sri Lanka and the beautiful Jacqueline Fernandez was more than happy to play a lovely host to the entire Bollywood fraternity in Colombo during the three-day extravaganza. She shined on the ramp for the IIFA fashion show by ace Bollywood designer Manish Malhotra and won the Best Debut Female Actress award for her film Aladin.
Under the guise of Bridget Jones Diary, Turning 30 actually happens to be female version of Devdas. That's because the film starts with breakup between a couple and, through the film, the girl is unable to get over it. Naina (Gul Panag) is unable to move on from her spilt-up with Rishabh (Siddharth Makkar). And though ex-flame Jai (Purab Kohli) coincidentally lands in her life around the same time, she is unable to make up her mind on who is she in love with till the end. While it uses all chick-flick components like sagging breasts, padded bras, grey hair and hen party, Turning 30 essentially ends up only being a sob-story of a female who can't recover from a breakup. The intentional inclusion of the lesbians and gays in the narrative and use of bookish English in the dialogues adds to the pretentiousness of the film.
Turning 30 is a collection of cliches running through a harebrained script, where Gul Panag is surrounded by an impressive coterie of non-actors, even as the director vainly, even gallantly, tries to push the envelope. So kissing is casual and frequent, the girl spoons the boy instead of the other way around, lingerie is discussed with casual ease, a woman chooses to take an extramarital affair in her stride, and sex isn't that big a deal. Turning 30 mainly caters to aq high society audience where live-in relationships and sex are subjects which are public drawing board conversations. Again who breaks up an engagement for financials reasons.
In the upcoming film Heroine, the story revolves around the life of a once successful film actress Mahi Arora, whose career is on the decline. Though speculated to be based on the lives of yester year divaslike Madhubala and Marilyn Monroe. Kareena Kapoor has been cast to play the lead role of Mahi Arora. A majority of the media speculated that the reason why Kareena did not accept the offer was because the story had uncanny resemblance to her personal life. The movie shows that the lead protagonist gets into a relationship with a married actor and a portion of the movie shows the actress’s relationship with the children of the actor from his first marriage. For a country obsessed with films and film stars, Heroine will take audiences on a voyeuristic journey to see what really goes on in the lives of India's sweethearts.
Even in Ek Tha Tiger, the women power is no less great. All the activities of the Tiger Salman veer around Katrina Kaif who is Zoya in the film. People come to see how Salman acts and reacts in the presence of his ex –fiancee Katrina. The director of the film said that he explores the outstanding acting potential of Katrina in Ek Tha Tiger. The super masala entertainer without lack of content is bound to be dull without Katrina. Though Salman and Katrina deny being in a relationship in real life, their chemistry onscreen looks every bit convincing. And the duo is an absolute delight to the eyes and it means the women power which is to save the film from being a flop. Seema Azmi is now staging Sara directed by Mahesh Dattani who now left it to the strong and confident hands of Seema . Thus as in the films, in drama also women are emerging as the dominant force in India as it is in Hollywood.
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