Bollywood beautifully bold
She gulps down desi tharra (country drink), smokes pot, swears, talks naughty, exposes like never before and doesn't mind some sultry moves — that's the new raunchy, naughty and bold Hindi film heroine for you.
From the Chhor Do Anchal Zamana Kya Kahega coy woman to the I'm too sexy for you babe, the Bollywood heroine has come of age.
Be it Nargis Fakhri's desire to drink tharra and watch soft porn in Rockstar, Vidya Balan's sensual and titillating looks in The Dirty Picture, Sonam Kapoor's confident display of the middle finger in Players, Katrina Kaif's drunken act in Mere Brother Ki Dulhan or even Rani Mukerji's uninhibited swearing in No One Killed Jessica — the bold drift is wide and visible on the big screen.
"Basically, cinema reflects what happens in society. So the homemaker, subservient, silent sufferer and pativrata [devoted] woman of [yesteryear] was what was shown in Hindi movies earlier. But, as times changed and society became more democratic and liberal, the woman's portrayal underwent a change on the big screen too," film critic Omar Qureshi said.
"Today, women live with the ‘double income, no kids' mantra, they go to work, some don't mind living life alone, some don't mind extramarital affairs... They socialise, party, drink and smoke, so that is clearly reflecting in cinema as well."
Some other films with actresses in bold roles include Delhi Belly, Ishqiya, Shaitan, Tanu Weds Manu, Jism, Saat Khoon Maaf, Dum Maro Dum and Girlfriend. In some, women are shown consuming drugs and locking lips with other women.
Young producer Ekta Kapoor has pinned her hopes on The Dirty Picture, in which a saucy Balan is seen telling co-star Tusshar Kapoor's character: "Mujhe jo chahiye uska mazza raat ko hee aata hai" (What I need comes at night).
But Kapoor feels yesteryear films were more titillating. "My film The Dirty Picture is about a woman revelling in her sexuality. There is a very definite line between sexuality and raunchiness, and our story is about this woman who lived her life with aplomb. It is a brave and bold performance, no doubt, but one needs to see how actresses are getting more comfortable in their skin nowadays," she said.
"Earlier, actresses used to play so-called sati savitris [devoted] and used to be covered in wet dupattas [scarfs] or saris. I think that used to look more suggestive and raunchy."
When acclaimed filmmaker Rajkumar Gupta made romantic Mukerji swear and smoke in No One Killed Jessica, he had explained: "The abuses have been used to define attitude and not in a derogatory sense. These days, abuses are a part and parcel of conversational language and we didn't feel that there was any harm in using them."
The trend is only becoming rampant for many reasons — viewer's open-mindedness, directors' daring attitude to show a realistic portrayal, actresses' confidence and producers' risk-taking ability.
"The sexy and bold woman was restricted only to the vamp in Indian films earlier," said Qureshi. "She would do the seducing act back then because a heroine was to be shown doing all ‘ideal' things. At that time, producers didn't want to take a chance by showing a heroine doing ‘bad' things.
"Nowadays, the audience is also more exposed, so they have a wider perspective about women and their sexuality."
Writer-actor Manu Rishi, who penned dialogues for films like Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye and Aisha, says stories of the "bad and naughty one" always turn out to be attention-grabbers. "Whether or not anyone likes it, it is an interesting, exciting and controversial trend. It makes a film more saleable.
"Once, Urdu writer Sadat Hassan Manto was asked: ‘Why don't you write about homebound women? Why do you always write about prostitutes?' So he said: ‘Gharelu aurton ke baare mein kuch likhne laayak nahin hota (There's nothing worthwhile writing about homebound women).'
"He said it because no one wants to either read about homemakers, neither does anyone want to write about them. Now if both heroines of Dev D were asked to talk like Juhi Chawla spoke in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak or like Bhagyashree did in Maine Pyar Kiya, imagine how they would sound.
"Just like a sharp-tongued girl causes a crowd on the streets, films with such female characters draw a huge crowd."