Edited to add: Managed to add this impressive, inspiring video here, finally! Thanks to Aaarti🙂
And then the other day, ‘Rang de basanti‘ was showing on some channel and there’s this Air Force Officer Ajay (Madhwan) who has just introduced his fiancee to his mother, the girl, Soha Ali Khan touches the mother’s feet and Madhwan teases her and asks her to touch his feet too, because he is her husband, her pati parmeshwar. That had my attention. Will she ? Won’t she? And I smile with delight and relief when she mock-angrily chases him around the TV screen. Hindi movies have definitely evolved:) In old Hindi movies a girl and boy could only talk if they were soon to get married. Here you have a bunch of girls and boys who are just hanging out together. In ‘Bunty aur Babli‘ Babli laments that she would have gone crazy if she had to make one more martbaan of pickle. What!!! An Indian girl admitting she has interests other than making pickles and papads for her family? But it isn’t just women who benefit from being freed from stereo typecasting. Abhishek Bachchan cooking in Dhoom, and Hrithik Roshan frying an omelette in Kaho Na Pyaar Hai were more true of the modern Indian men than Rajesh Khanna raising his hand to hit his wife(Mumtaz I think), causing his mother to object, “No! Not in her condition! She cannot help me in housework only because she is going to give me a grandson”. So it was acceptable if he beats her black and blue if she was not carrying their family’s waris, and it was also acceptable to beat her into helping his mother.
Why I prefer Shahrukh Khan to Amitabh Bachchan…
I think Shahrukh Khan is the one brought these changes first…he spoke openly about how he fell in love with wife Gauri, how she wore a mini skirt and looked so good etc etc – Compare this to Amitabh Bachchan, a Police Officer telling Zeena Aman when she comes to complain about someone whistling at her, (was it in Lawaris?) and he asks her what else did she expect when she dressed like this. And she asks what’s wrong with these clothes, he says “Bahut kum hain” (They aren’t enough). Actors are role models for people, and Amitabh Bachchan and Rajesh Khanna contributed their bit to our gender bias . Well, so Shahrukh speaking of his wife with affection and respect made her the most envied wife in the country. Femina called her the woman with best ‘karma’. Shahrukh Khan also fasted with Kajol on Karvachauth in DDLJ.
Unfortunately I rarely sit and watch a complete movie and never remember the names, but even I can see the movie scene changing.
Indian Advertisements have always been ahead of Indian cinema in showcasing social changes. There’s this ad that goes “Car baree ho gayee, aur beti bhi!” Nice to see a Dad accepting a check for a bigger car from his daughter! Another one I like is the Frankfinn ad, where the girl is different…
Edited to add on 13th Sept 2008: This beautifully researched, detailed post by Neeta, talks about the changing portrayal of women in Bollywood.