Women who changed cinema
Every Indian is connected to Indian cinema from the core of their heart. Indian cinema includes not only Bollywood but also the state cinemas like Kollywood, Tollywood etc. Drama, romance, comedy, action, thriller all these genres combined in one movie makes the most selling genre of Indian cinema; the masala movies. Now what actually these movies used to show was a man struggling in one-way or the other, some of his good friends helping him, some seriously dangerous enemies fighting with him and a girlfriend for romantic shots, that’s all. Going back to the pages of history of Indian cinema, women weren’t allowed to act and instead men played their roles too.
But time changes, after all, women are the diamonds whose glory and shine cannot be hidden in any way by anyone. The first woman who changed the phase of Indian cinema was Durga Khote. She was the blockbuster of Hindi and Marathi cinema who broke the taboo. Durga went through several criticism comments and judgements but she was the candle who showed light in dark lives of several girls of India as an inspiration. Then the storm took its shape. Lalita Pawar, Mehtaab, Naseem Banu, Sadhana Bose and many actresses walked on her path. Nargis Dutt was another woman who had the power to break the taboo. She became the first actress to win National Film Award for her performance in Raat Aur Din in 1967. Another woman who shaped Indian cinema is Fatma Begum, the first female director of 1926. Every human has a talent but every woman has a talent along with the power to struggle more than any man. Maybe that’s the reason women had to struggle and prove themselves again and again. Saroj Khan also proved it, being the first female choreographer in 1970’s.
As years passed, women became an extremely important part of Indian cinema. But, things were still not actually like how it should be. Actresses were the sidekicks in films. Stories used to revolve around men and women were just the segment of the film that consists of songs and romance. The stereotypes depicting women was same and is same even now for most of the part. The women in Indian cinema had to play sexualised roles. The characters of ‘beautiful abla naari’ ‘sanskari sushil bahu’ and ‘item girls’ was in force. Meena kumari is a perfect example for all of it.
Gradually the things were changing. The first women-oriented movie can be said to be Mother India of 1957 starring Nargis Dutt as a poor villager fighting for odds to raise her children. In 1972, Hema Malini played the lead role in women-oriented Seeta Aur Geeta. A movie of 2001 named Lajja by Rekha, Madhuri Dixit, Manisha Koirala and Mahima Chaudhary reflected the social taboos and issues in an impressive way. Another movie which revolved around women and not men was No One Killed Jessica of 2011 based on real life murder case of Jessica Lal played by Rani Mukherji and Vidya Balan. A movie by legend Sri Devi named Ensglish Vinglish showed various social issues like dominated housewife, English preference by Indians and selfless women struggling for her family et cetera. Kangana Ranaut, a rebellious and powerful female actress played the lead role in movie Queen in 2014 in which the story revolved around a girl going alone on honeymoon after betrayal by her would-be-husband and learns to be independent and happy over the trip. Then several movies like Neerja, Kahani, Mardani, Mom, came with women as lead.
Gender bias has travelled across in decades in the cinema and in society. The movie Pink of 2016 starring Taapsee Pannu and Amitabh Bacchan became a blockbuster that highlighted a very important aspect of Indian society and was based on a case of rape. In 2017, a film that gave a fierce turn in mindsets came to the theatres named Lipstick Under My Burkha by Alankriti Shrivastava starring Ratna Pathak, Konkana Sen Sharma, Aahana Kumra and Plabita Borthakur.
Likewise, directors and producers like Aparna Sen, Deepa Mehta, Meghna Gulzar, Zoya Akhtar, Konkana Sen Sharma transformed the cliché and proved that females can create anything and everything. Indian cinema is now an example of perfect art and emotions and also of women empowerment. Although there are still flaws like sexual assault, partiality, nepotism in Bollywood but there are the forces wishing to change them.