Last week, I was watching a movie from the 1960s. Some character mouthed the lines “Pati ke charnon mein swarg hain. Ab tumhara pati hi tumhara devta hai.” In the movies till 90s if a girl was raped or thrown out by her husband in a movie the only way out for the female character was to commit suicide. A female character who smoked, drank whiskey or wore provocative clothes was the vamp. In many movies, a working woman was shown in a bad light and was given lecture about “Indian sanskriti” and by the end of the movie the woman would be serving food, quitting her job, and shown to be “sanskaari naari.”
But of late, the movies don’t portray women in this way. I agree that “item songs” still objectify women, but any change in the society or movies takes time. In recent times, movies with female protagonists have been appreciated both by critics and masses and have become hits. Movies with strong female protagonists like Queen, Mardani, Piku, Pink, English Vinglish, Mom, Badla, Manikarnika, Raazi and such have worked wonderfully at the box office. Earlier we could cite only Mother India as one of the movies where the female protagonist was strong.
Today mainstream heroines are shown to be working, drinking and smoking without guilt, living-in, living independently, and women with strong mind. The fact that these films work is a good sign, sign of changing times. I agree still our country has a long way to go in terms of women empowerment, emancipation and gender equality. But let’s appreciate the positive change.
On the hindsight, many people are worried that our daughters will go “astray” by watching such movies. It is against our “Indian culture.” Okay..so being subservient, obedient, not expressing opinions, not living their dreams, working, exercising their choice is Indian culture..is it?
Also, today the female leads don’t shy away to get married or become mothers at the peak of their career. Acceptance is much better now. Most actresses are good businesswomen and many of them are self-made. I am happy that film-makers and the female actors are being bold in their choices and are not scared to take risks, both professionally and personally.
A lot needs to be done still, but a lot of positive signs are there..