The Changing Heroine Of Indian Cinema

The Indian heroine on the silver screens are changing. From being a silent glam doll, following the hero, she is now portrayed as a woman with a mind of her own!

Indian heroines on the silver screens are changing. From being a silent glam doll following the hero, she is now portrayed as a woman with a mind of her own!

I walked out of the hall with a feeling of ecstasy and pride as Manju Varier’s closing dialogue echoed in the cinema theatre: “How Old Are you? It doesn’t matter.” How Old Are You is a movie that tells the story of a middle-aged married woman who suffers the taunts of her husband and daughter and transforms herself to reach the pinnacle of glory.

Painting a picture of stunning heroines in sexy outfits and a street goon who falls for her or an independent, bold woman who meekly succumbs to the macho hero, many a time, Indian cinema has been merely the portrayal of a patriarchal society. Needless to mention are the stereotypical  saas-bahu serials that depict a heavy saree-clad teary-eyed housewife; a helpless woman who is suppressed by the male-domination from all sides. We live in a  society that finger are pointed at her for any injustice she is faced with. Movies like Sivakasi that showcase a hero  who embarrasses the heroine in public for wearing a skimpy dress and lectures her about the forgotten Tamil culture, add fuel to the fire.

We have arrived at the precipice where women need to rise to defend and protect themselves, without restricting their freedom to dream. They cannot depend on a culture where a set of small-minded people blame her dressing style and there exist groups that agree on using corrective rape to force marriage and disregard marital rape charges. Stating the obvious, the irony blatantly presents itself in the form of dialogues that say, “Women are sacred, they are pure. They should be protected.”

In the wake of such a situation, I am proud to see that the fair sex population of our nation is slowly waking up and claiming their rights on women empowerment in various walks of life. A small but noteworthy instance of the change is the gradual transformation of the Indian cinema industry.

Bygone are the days when the movies are solely about lust, love and a saree clad heroine. The film crew is gently saying goodbye to more Sathileelavathi where the husband gets bored of the ageing, fat wife. Desi entertainment screens have slowly shifted their focus from an attractive figure- heroine or a paradoxical hero who woos a liberated young girl to be at the mercy of his love.

The Bollywood audience encored as Kangana Ranaut rocked the screens in Queen and Tanu Weds Manu Returns while the fearless cop Rani Mukherjee of Mardaani punched hard the faces of the human traffickers. Queen was indeed a tight slap on the faces of men who let go a woman from their lives at their will. Meanwhile in Mollywood, 22 Female Kottayam stirred thousands to stand up and fight against the atrocities of men; maybe a good show of the physical strength at the right time. All the while, the audience ogled at the stunning girl on screen, but movies like OK Kanmani have begun showcasing a simple, casually dressed realistic heroine character.

Hopefully, it will be a matter of time when the Parivaar-Indian soaps will gradually begin to feature better quality shows. These dramas have gotten the aadarneeya naari of our society to stay glued to the idiotic chauvinistic storylines that illustrate the woman as being either a villain or in a humble housewife role.

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The Indian movies and desi miniscreen has a crucial role to play in influencing spectators. Ranging from social media critics, fan pages and movie clubs the mini-mega screen culture subtly imprints its message in the minds of the common man. Well, it is a good start to treat the public with some realistic and inspiring movies that enlighten the Indian woman and encourages her to be more empowered and confident.

As  Walt Disney once said, “Movies can and do have tremendous influence in shaping young lives in the realm of entertainment towards the ideals and objectives of normal adulthood.”

Frieda Pinto image via Shutterstock




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