Celebrating Womanhood through Bollywood: The Queen Era begins.

What kind of an effect do women oriented films have on female viewers? Do we re-visit our own failures and end up agonized or we come out with jubilation? Are we able to celebrate womanhood through cinema today?

As a viewer, after witnessing the changing role of women in Movies in India, I attempt to create a list of all women oriented films which have left a mark on my memory [positive & negative]. The elevation of my own feelings as a movie lover is evident today as I fondly glance at my “She-roes”.

As a child, way back in 70s & 80s, the Epitome of womanhood in cinema was “Nargis” as Mother India. When I saw the movie, it left me in anguish. Radha faced all atrocities from society and stood true to her cause of justice. My heart cried for her. I felt sad after watching Anarkali chained & humiliated at the hands of the Emperor, though Madhubala’s brilliant portrayal of true love left me in admiration. The feeling was similar when Raj Kumar Santoshi presented the story of Damini [Meenakshi Seshadri] – a staunch, middle class woman who faces the dilemma of standing against her influential in-laws to provide justice to her maid servant. Her journey made my heart heavier. He attempted Lajja to show 4 women, Vaidehi [Manisha Koirala], Janaki [Madhuri Dixit], Maithili [Mahima Chaudhary] & Ramdulaari [Rekha] who are targets of male chauvinism. To have these actors together on screen was a landmark indeed but this movie could not uplift me from the tragic mood. In between we had Shekhar Kapoor’s “Bandit Queen” where Seema Biswas showed the brutal torture inflicted upon her. It was simply a horrifying Biopic. Though she was presented as a deaf & mute mother[Khamoshi] subtly by Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

It was only Yash Chopra’s Chaandni & Pooja [Lamhe] who could cheer me up after Manju [Khoobsurat]. Manju [Rekha] was playful, naughty, independent & headstrong. Chaandni & Pooja [Sridevi] were emotional, vulnerable, courageous yet extremely “Romantic”. They fought for love but never fell low in self-esteem. They didn’t revolt against the society and carried the female audience along with them [and lightened the minds]. A lot of women were able to identify with them. This era of Sridevi & Madhuri Dixit was Bright & Lovely. Karisma Kapoor stepped in their shoes later. Shyam Benegal’s Zubeida was an inspiring Muslim Actress; Khaled Mohammad’s Fiza was a brave girl searching for her missing brother amidst communal Riots. She was marvellous in these characters and started a trend for commercial actresses being accepted in less “Glamorous” roles. Earlier only the big names from parallel cinema were considered apt for such stories. Her simplicity and earthy performances left me awestruck. I related with her so well in Dil Toh Pagal Hai! Nisha was able to gather adoration in-spite of the role being a supporting one.

Madhur Bhandarkar began his Series based on Women from all sections of Society. In Chaandni Bar, Tabu depicted the gritty life of a Bar Dancer. Her survival in the upheaval of social traumas was inspiring but her eventual loss in the end was disheartening. As an actor, Tabu undoubtedly raised the standards of acting in Bollywood but the effect of the movie was rather depressing. In-fact Fashion presented a contrast of mixed feelings. Meghana & Shonali were two strong individuals; while the former rises from a disastrous relationship and the dark secrets behind the glamorous career, the latter succumbs to it. Priyanka Chopra & Kangana Ranaut fetched their National awards for this movie and proved that sheer Female talent could successfully carry an entire movie on its shoulders.

Vidya Balan arrived as a lady in armor on screen with “The Dirty Picture”. A Side Actress’ struggle to rise from her slot to the top was portrayed brilliantly. Her achievements and eventual failures were depicted so well that it was hard to imagine anyone else as “Silk”. In “Kahani” she searches for her husband’s murderer and kills him disguised under pregnancy. Finally, a trend of movies with strong Female Protagonists began [thanks to her immaculate talent & ability to provide “spine” to such scripts].

But for me, the beginning of “The Queen Era” is what I would name as the “Revolution” for female viewers as it has not only changed the perspective for entertainment, it showcases those little facets of our own lives lying deep [hidden] within us. Vikas Behl did not falter in providing Entertainment, boasted less of Feminism while displaying a woman’s struggle to live a dream minus the man she dreamt of accompanying her. Rani did not provide us with solutions – she simply showed us how women fare when they have understanding/supporting parents. Anand L. Rai’s Datto is my personal favourite. She brought me closer to the women born in my native region; girls/women who aren’t conditionally pretty and have a natural inclination towards sports; who are nick-named “Tom-Boys” but in reality are stronger than many men. Their simplicity is their Man-Force. Datto does not have any complexes when she faces Tanu, who is prettier; she considers true love & affection higher than age-bar & status; yet she refuses to be a part of a married life full of confusions. Imtiaz Ali’s Veera [Highway] was an un-glamourized portrayal of a caged childhood- A girl who gathers the courage to leave the fake support system of her parents. Her love for her abductor gives her a voice to scream out her pains and begin a fresh life. Alia Bhatt’s role helped me revise the lessons of Motherhood for I have a daughter of my own. Veera alerted me. I raise a toast for Juhi Chaturvedi who could weave a story around “Piku”– a Modern Contemporary woman who tolerates her father’s tantrums besides sharing an amazing rapport with him [full of conflicts]- a daughter who doesn’t hesitate in demanding her own space while informing him of her own personal needs. Piku reminded me that I should continue bearing my Father’s Moods for he is equally adorable.

Datto, Rani, Veera & Piku are cheerful, alive, brave & educated women whom I look up-to with affection. Hats-off to SLB as well for presenting Kashibai as the dignified wife of Bajirao; a Royal Lady who doesn’t waste her self-esteem in melodrama and stands tall with pride & dignity to retain her title. Her character doesn’t lose its shine amidst the love-story of Bajirao-Mastani.

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The “Pre-Queen” Era had Writers and Directors who showcased Women amidst social traumas, personal conflicts and turbulent relationships. They definitely stood out but achieved lesser in presenting glitters of hope & offering sweetness to the feeling of being a Woman. This “Queen” Era offers me Jubilation. I gleam with Pride [after I have shed numerous tears] while watching “Shashi” [English Vinglish] complete her course in English language. She is a timid house-wife who overcomes a complex instead of fighting her husband & child, without revolting or creating unnecessary Drama. She rises in her own eyes. She stirs me with her Triumph.

I thank the artists behind this change. Gauri Shinde, SLB, Vikas Behl, Anand L. Rai, Juhi Chaturvedi & R. Balki [who proved earlier that 40 is no less an age to fall in love with a 60 year old man] for beginning this Joyful Era of Positive & Hopeful cinema, which gives a woman seated in a cinema hall, radiance of Happiness. They don’t remind us of the century old norms through their work – they simply give us a glimpse into another woman’s life which seems realistic & inspiring. They don’t leave us engulfed in pathos & sorrow – they show us how wonderful a woman’s Tale can be.

Looking forward to Rekha, Rani, Madhuri, Kajol & Karisma stepping alongside the “Queens” of Today.

 

My Bollywood Wishlist 2016.

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Over the years, January has been considered “Jinxed” for Bollywood, with an exception of Baby [last year] & Race 2 [2013]. Despite the Holiday-mood hangover, movie lovers eagerly await the delightful offerings from Bollywood right from the beginning of the New-Year. 2015 was a year of content based Cinema. It was ,a sort of, continuation of 2014 with some strong female-oriented Movies being offered to us. The ones with Khan’s & Kapoor’s & Kumar’s [with the exception of Bajrangi Bhaijaan] did not leave much of an impression and left us wanting for more of “masala” which is normally attached & associated with them. We have reasons to cheer as “The Three Khan’s” have magnificent projects for us to relish as viewers this year. Likewise for the “Kumar’s” [the month of January offers “Airlift”] whereas the “Kapoor’s” have an entire Movie titled after them [Kapoor & Sons]. Out of almost a 100 plus movies releasing this year, I present my Wishlist of “Most” awaited ones. [Sports seems to be the favorite topic this year.]

Mohenjo-Daro 1.  Mohenjo Daro

The most “Illegaly” good-looking & Talented Actor Hrithik Roshan was missing in action last year but returns on screen this year with this Epic-Romance Film by Ashutosh Gowarikar. Co-starring Pooja Hegde, this periodic film is set in the ancient city of Mohenjo Daro[2600 BC]. Ashutosh takes us to the era of Indus Valley Civilization with this gigantic project. Expectations are high from the team after Jodha Akbar.

images 16-Raees-srk-poster 2.  Fan/Raees

ShahRukh Khan fans have a “Double” reason to cheer themselves this year as “The King khan” arrives on screen as Fan & Raees. In the former, he plays Himself & his own fan; a young boy from Delhi [In a Double role]. With the help of 3D scanning & prosthetics, we will see him in a brand new Avatar along with Ileana D’Cruz & Vaani Kapur. Oscar Winning Make-up artist “Greg Cannon” has developed his appearance to present him like a younger Look-alike. In the latter, he plays a bootlegger based in Gujarat in 1980s. Pakistani actress Mahira Khan makes her debut in Bollywood with this one.

383670-sultan-crop Dangal_first_look 3. Sultan/Dangal

Wrestling is the latest field in sports being explored by the movie-makers as we have Salman Khan collaborating with the Yash Chopra banner for Sultan. It’s a Sports Drama with Randeep Hooda playing the role of his coach. Rumours have been suggesting the names of Deepika or Anushka playing the lead opposite him but the final announcement is yet to be received. Aamir Khan takes up Mukesh Tiwari’s biopical sports drama Dangal. He plays the role of Mahavir Singh Phogat who taught his daughters the game/technique of wrestling [Babita Kumari & Geeta Phogat are India’s 1st female wrestlers to win Gold & Silver at the Commonwealth Games in 2010]. Sakshi Tanwar plays the role of his wife. Both are training intensively for their respective roles.

mi-dulp-1 4. Mirziya

The long awaited debut of Anil Kapoor’s son Harshvardhan Kapoor along with Saiyami Kher will happen with Mirziya. Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra directs this contemporary love story inspired by the tale of Mirza-Sahiba. Gulzar has written the screenplay & the Movie is shot majorly in Ladakh. The trailor looks promising and so does the Young Kapoor lad who is all set to blaze the screens like his father & sister.

2015_12_30_03_19_30_fitoor5 5.  Fitoor

Based on Charles Dickens “Great Expectations”, Fitoor is directed by Abhishek Kapoor with Aditya Roy Kapoor, Katrina Kaif & Tabu [Rekha shot a few scenes for this prominent role but decided to quit] playing the lead roles. A fresh pairing raises the hopes for those who await spakling Love sagas.

arjun_47_0_0_0 6.  Ki and Ka

A Romantic Comedy by R.Balki has Arjun Kapoor & Kareena Kapoor Khan playing the title roles of a young couple facing challenges of marriage. The Movie focuses on the gender roles placed upon men & women by the Indian society. Balki’s reputation assures “quality”; Kapoor Kids step out of their personal/family bonding, on to the silver screen.

unnamed-45.jpg 7.  Rangoon

A period-romance Film by Vishal Bhardwaj, starring Saif Ali Khan, Kangana Ranaut & Shahid Kapoor,  Rangoon is a Casablanca type Love story set in the World War 2 period. Shahid’s bearded look for the film has already gone viral.

alia-sidharth-fawad_640x480_71427274542 8.  Kapoor and Sons

A Dharma production flick has youthful star-cast of Alia Bhatt, Sidhhartha Malhotra, Fawad Khan & Rishi Kapoor and is directed by Shakun Batra. Most likely Sanjay Dutt will return to screens with this one.

Ae-Dil-Hai-Mushkil 9.  Ae Dil Hai Mushkil

This Movie is in the limelight as Ranbir Kapoor pairs up with the gorgeous Aishwarya Rai Bachchan for the first time on screen. Anushka Sharma & Fawad Khan feature in the supporting roles and Karan Johar takes his seat behind the camera. Undoubtedly, the most awaited feature film of this year [going by the reputation of the banner].

maxresdefault 10.  Udta Punjab

Shahid Kapoor & Kareena Kapoor Khan work together after the Blockbuster “Jab We Met”[sadly not paired opposite each other], along with Alia Bhatt & Diljit Dosanjh, the Punjabi Super-Star who marks his debut in Bollywood. The movie is based on the subject of substance abuse in Punjab.

This year we have Films based upon the Sport-stars of India like Azhar[based on the controversial life of Mohammad Azharuddin, with Emraan Hashmi playing the title role & Nargis Fakhri as Sangeeta Bijlani], M.S Dhoni:The Untold Story [a biopic based on the Cricket legend, with Sushant Singh Rajput in the lead & Kiara Advani as his wife] and A Biopic on Neerja Bhanot, Neerja [a real life hero & the youngest recipient of the Ashoka Chakra] played by Sonam Kapoor as well as the one on Sarabjit Singh,who was convicted of espionage in Pakistan, titled Sarabjit [Randeep Hooda & Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in lead roles]. We have sequels like Housefull 3, Rock On 2, Ghayal Once again, Force 2 & Jai Gangaajal and some interesting ones like Befikre[Ranveer Singh & Vani Kapoor], Dishoom[Varun Dhawan & John Abraham], Wazir[Amitabh Bachchan & Farhan Akhtar], Jagga Jasoos[ Katrina Kaif], Baar Baar Dekho[Katrina Kaif & Sidhhartha Malhotra], etc. There are small films like Haraamkhor [Nawazuddin Siddiqui & Shweta Tripathy] & Chalk And Duster [Juhi Chawla & Shabana Azmi] which look promising indeed. Happy Cinema Days to all movie buffs.

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