Women-centric films are back in vogue

MUMBAI: ‘No One Killed Jessica’, ‘Mirch’, ‘Turning 30’ and ‘7 Khoon Maaf’ – all women-centric films in the last few months show the female leads in strong and powerful roles. Filmmakers and actors hope this trend continues in future.

On the silver screen women are usually seen as a helpless mother, submissive wife, devoted girlfriend, overcaring sister, daughter or a vamp, but directors like Vishal Bharadwaj and Alankrita Shrivastava are trying to break the mould and present women in a more realistic, vibrant and unconventional way.

One-film-old Rajkumar Gupta’s ‘No One Killed Jessica’ was an attempt to bring alive the struggle of Sabrina Lall’s fight with the Indian judiciary for years to get justice for her murdered sister.

Starring Vidya Balan and Rani Mukerji, the movie created a buzz as it was inspired by the 1999 murder of model Jessica Lall and the director was never apprehensive that his film won’t do well without a strong male character.

“The protagonists in my movie were two leading ladies who were very powerful in whatever they did. It’s not easy to make a film on such a theme, but times are changing and people are accepting it with open arms,” Gupta said.

Director Vinay Shukla, best known for his 1999, multiple National Award-winning project “Godmother”, is confident there will be more successful women-centric films in the years to come.

“At the moment, the number of women-centric movies is less, but it will grow with time because actresses nowadays have got huge potential to run a movie on their shoulders much like their male counterparts,” said Shukla, whose latest film ‘Mirch’ dealt with four stories of women’s emancipation.

Other movies that gave importance to women character is Bharadwaj’s ‘7 Khoon Maaf’, inspired by Ruskin Bond’s short story ‘Susanna’s Seven Husbands’, which saw Priyanka Chopra bumping off her seven husbands, while debutant Alankrita Shrivastava’s ‘Turning 30’ was a take on the dilemma of women at the milestone age.

Talking about her experience of working as the leading lady in ‘Turning 30’, actress Gul Panag said: “‘Turning 30’ was all about a woman’s perspective and being a woman, I loved shooting every part of the movie as it was an honest attempt. We gave it our best and I am proud of the movie.”

Earlier too, films like ‘Dor’ (2006), ‘Silsilay’ (2005), ‘Tehzeeb’ (2003), ‘Pinjar’ (2003), ‘Chameli’ (2003), ‘Satta’ (2003), ‘Filhaal’ (2002), ‘Zubeidaa’ (2001) ‘Lajja’ (2001), ‘Chandni Bar’ (2001) and ‘Fiza’ (2000) brought the woman into the spotlight – all these films got critical acclaim, but they didn’t turn out to be a commercial hit.

Shukla pointed out: “It’s not that the trend of women playing the main character has come into practice now. It has been happening for quite long. From Meena Kumari in ‘Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam’, Nargis in ‘Mother India’, Nutan in ‘Bandini’ to Hema Malini in ‘Seeta aur Geeta’ and Meenakshi Seshadri in ‘Damini’, these ladies always managed to make an impression on the audience.”

“The number of such movies has in fact decreased in today’s time but the reason could be that women-centric movies are distinctive and appeals only to a specific audience,” he added.

Veteran actress and censor board chief Sharmila Tagore said: “I feel more women-centric films will come with time. But we shouldn’t complain because it’s the same the world over – it is indeed, the male characters that are in prominence even in Hollywood. So we shouldn’t fuss.”

The 64-year-old, who has been in the industry for over five decades, feels ‘No One Killed Jessica’ is the only woman-centric movie to have worked at the box office.

“Only one women-centric film has sort of worked – ‘No One Killed Jessica’; so one shouldn’t get too excited about the phenomenon. ‘No One Killed Jessica’ was a hugely publicized film because of the actual happening, which had affected so many people. The news about Jessica (Lall) was in the front page of dailies for very long, people were so involved, so the film had a lot of publicity value in a commercial way. So, it was one success,” Sharmila explained.

Meanwhile acclaimed actress Rani Mukerji says she is looking forward to more projects where women are projected as strong and powerful.

“Whatever films I have been a part of so far, most of them have been women-centric films. I wish to do more such films where women are shown stronger because it is a fact that women are stronger,” she said.

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