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Do women as portrayed in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s movies truly exist? Isn’t it time to bring in the real modern Indian women?
I consider myself a fairly stable person when it comes to reacting to Social Media hypes. I don’t jump into conclusions and don’t react too fast. So I took my time to pen down my share of words for recent events like Tilaknagar incident. I haven’t reacted to scions of Peshwa writing an open letter to Sanjay Leela Bhansali. I will do so now.
I yet have to react to what a certain actor or actor’s wife said. But there is one thing that deeply affects me and that’s Cinema. I review it as soon as I see it. Yes, I am a movie buff and I feel it’s my birthright to pass comments on all decent movies and give my share of opinion. With such an emotional connect to movies, I also change from a patient observer on Social Media to an instinctive person when it comes to movies.
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My last two Facebook Statuses went as such-
“Why do women in Sanjay Leela Bhansali movies celebrate loving the same man by dancing together? Do such women exist?” The response to this status was from funny to serious to indifferent. Friends commented reminding me about the polygamous era of kings and multiple wives to Gopis dancing for Krishna. Good debate, I say at the end of the day!
Status number 2 was a doubt about the same movie,”Why is Mastani singing, “Mein Mastani ho gayi”? Isn’t she Mastani already?” Again, the response was same. And then I realized my inability to move on from the said movie wasn’t because of the inaccuracy of historical facts the director is portraying. People on Social Media are angry because the director is showing women from royalty dancing in skimpy clothes just to recreate the magic of ‘Dola re Dola‘ from Devdas. These people know the history of Peshwas and for them such a scenario is hilarious and distorts history beyond recognition.
My anger however, is portrayed in my first Facebook Status. Fuel to the fire is the lyrics from such songs. Cinema is supposed to capture and reflect the mood of the nation. We saw some good cinema in 90s with movies like “Arjun” capturing the sentiment of unemployed youths of the country. With changing times, we now have movies like Tamasha that capture the robotic lives we in corporate world sometimes lead. And I appreciate movies like Tamasha where the heroine is a career woman who has her own mind and accepts or rejects a proposal based on what she wants from her life. It also touches upon the emotional vulnerability of a woman who is unable to move on. I think that’s a sensible, balanced portrayal.
However, in the name of period cinema, women are shown to act sisterly when they love the same man. There is no written account of ‘Paro’ meeting ‘Chandramukhi’ but for a duet song they met and danced together. Forget the inaccuracy of the plot, but do we still need such portrayal where two strong women are dancing for an alcoholic in today’s world? Each proclaiming her love with words like “unke charnon ki hun mein dhool” Any sensible woman of today will walk away from such a relationship, surely won’t dance for a man who cannot remain faithful to one. But its period drama, so anything goes I believe.
Another movie I cannot forget for the same reason is Cocktail. It was believed to be a progressive movie, but in the end the Cassanova hero chooses the homely, domestic girl over the fun-loving western clothes clad girl irrespective of the fact that she is more caring, trusting and open-minded. Remember the scene before the “Mein hun hi Nahi is Duniya ki” song where Deepika willingly stays back with hero’s mother and lets her boyfriend dance and enjoy with her best friend. And then all hell breaks loose towards the climax and a modern, happy-go-lucky girl transforms into a doormat just for a guy who couldn’t remain faithful to her.
We are too easy to forgive Casanova types in the movies and that somehow starts reflecting in real life.
Men are supposed to be philandering and women are supposed to be forgiving in the name of keeping the family intact. Dil dhadakne do was a good example of how we think. Shefali Chhaya stays with a Casanova husband because she has nowhere else to go!
I believe only when we start showing some positivity relating to women in movies, will the change start reflecting in society. A good example is eloping replaced by couples waiting and convincing parents after DDLJ hit theatres. Though I believe that was the only good thing out of that movie.
The impact of cinema is far-reaching. I have a personal incident to quote. I am an educated, career-oriented married woman who every year religiously observes the Karva Chauth fast. Amongst the gasps of feminists, here’s my reason- we live a busy life with both having corporate jobs, and any occasion to just celebrate is welcome. So yes, I like to play dress up and do the whole ‘seeing the moon through the sieve’ thing. And I do it with faith. I know by no means I am increasing my husband’s life by starving myself. But just a day, both of us fast together and recognise the importance of each other in our lives brings us closer. My sisters don’t fast and they don’t get it either. I don’t expect them to. I am also married inter-caste, so in my husband’s family, they observe, ‘vat-savitri fast’ which is again for a husband. So, my sister asks me “If I am observing Karvachauth, why not ‘vat-savitri’.And my response is- “I will once that is shown in Yash Chopra or Karan Johar movie”
The said incident was in jest, but what I want to explain is that unknowingly these things are a part of my psyche, thanks to being a huge SRK fan growing up and watching those family oriented movies as a teenager. This is also the reason I believe that Cinema and Society are a reflection of each other.
What I look forward to in movies is a balanced portrayal of women and society. And by balanced I do not mean showing women as Goddesses or all sacrificing Mother India. We have a tendency of respecting women in movies only when she is either a mother or sister. Maybe it’s time to respect women by respecting her existence, her right to have a career, her right to not forgive a cheating partner just to keep the façade of a happy family for her children, her right to accept her sexuality and her right to be accepted as a human and not as a form of Goddess.
I hope the Bhansalis and Chopras are listening!
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Author, Blogger, Mother, Daughter, Wife & Mechanical Engineer
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