The Hindi Film Industry produces the most number of films in compared to movie industries all over the world. Hindi cinema has been the referring point for the nation, all along it's way. Both the film industries of South and Bengal have influential roles to play, but can not overpower the 6666 of hindi cinema. Films from Mumbai are shown in theatres all over India. Bollywood movie stars are referred as idols and icons to the youth of our country. Over the years, Bollywood has not only flourished within the country borders but has made a place in the international market. There is no denying the fact that Bollywood is the face of India.
Every year, more than 1500 films are produced in different studios of Bombay. When indian cinema first came into existence, stories were adapted from indian mythologies and great epics. During the freedom struggle, hindi cinema depicted stories those reflected the anger and opinions of our national leaders and people who were eager to be free from the tyranny of the colonial rulers. Then came the era of indian cinema from 1950s to 1970s, when indian culture, customs and traditions were showcased in the films.
This was the time when women were presented with major roles and prominent parts. They were given equally dominant parts as their male co-actors. Women were not depicted as 'abla nari' or the 'damsel in distress' who needed saving by a male character. The female characters in these movies were written with dignity and given equal value as those of the male characters. Movies like Mother India represented the brave acts done by women in oder to save their family and society. These movies had strong and competent roles for women to play.
''During the 1980s, there was the beginning of the action era,
an era that brought a lot of changes. The Bollywood heroines lost their strength and space to the hero. She was reduced to being a glamorous component of the films, dancing around trees, being kidnapped, raped or killed-'' says Ruchi Agarwal in her article. From here starts the depiction of women as naive, incompetent, weak and completely depended on their male counterparts. This was the era when the male protagonist of the films were given the maximum credit. They were given much attention and admiration. Female characters were written just to add glamour to the male characters,dancing in silk sarees in snow covered mountains and getting saved by the heroes at times of distress. Female leads had not much to do in these movies.
In 2000, when young directors and producers came up with refreshing ideas, new kind of movies were made. Hindi cinema no longer visited the village life and the quintessential Indian family household. Farhan Khan with 'Dil Chahta Hai' marked the arrival of a new era of Bollywood. In 2000s movies like Life in a Metro, Rock On and Chagde India were made. New kind of writings were praised both by the critics and audience. Just when, Hindi cinema was going through a reformation, women were not made a part of that movement. Empowered women characters with aspirations and career goals were so rare. Female characters were always sabotaged and misread.
After twenty years of change, Bollywood still hasn't got the female roles right. There are numerous movies made on women by women for women. But has it changed the way Bollywood perceives female characters? Absolutely,no. The basic definition of a strong female lead for bollywood is a 'bad girl' image. A girl who smokes, drinks, enjoys parting late at night clubs- is seen to be a strong woman who fights patriarchy for a better society. Bollywood still can not perceive female characters who are career oriented, prioritize themselves over their family and loved ones and are in complete in themselves. According to bollywood movies, one has to drink and smoke to establish herself as a strong independent woman.
Even when movies focussing on the lives and perspectives of women were made, not many female characters represent the qualities that empower women among the audience. Characters like Piku from Piku, Aisha from Aisha, Rani from Queen- are hardly found. Feel good movies like Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, 3 Idiots, Chhichore and Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani have taught us some essential lessons on life. But these movies too revolved around the lives of the male characters, so little was said about their female counterparts. All loved Naina and Laila, but got to know so less about them.
The Hindi Film Industry has changed over the years. From core 'masala' movies to content creation, the films have changed in their nature, flavour and target audience. The female roles in the Hindi cinema has gained both respect and space in the scripts, but much change is still needed. Creators have to come up with characters and stories with whom the Indian ambitious youth can relate with. Bollywood has much scope of improvement in regard to female leads and characters.
About The Writer
Debalina Mondal can usually be found reading story books, especially modern fiction and bestsellers. She is a feminist and studies History. Her hobbies include calligraphy, photography and dancing.
DISCLAIMER: The views of this article solely belongs to the original Author Ms. Debalina Mondal.