Has Vidya Balan's success story enhanced the status of Bollywood women from a hero's sidekick to centrepiece? Very few filmmakers are spinning woman-centric scripts even now, though Kareena Kapoor's whopping Rs.8 crore ($1.6 million) fee for "Heroine" seems to raise hope.
"Kahaani", "Heroine" and the evergreen Sridevi's comeback film "English Vinglish" are perhaps the only three projects right now with woman as a central character.
"Women in Bollywood have always been secondary. It's predominantly men who have taken centrestage in our films. Even earlier, barring some films like 'Mother India' and 'Umrao Jaan', women in Indian cinema had marginal roles. In recent times, 'The Dirty Picture' has been an exception," film historian S.M.M. Ausaja told IANS.
Sujoy Ghosh's "Kahaani" releasing Friday - a day after International Women's Day - zooms the lens on a helpless, seven-month pregnant woman in search of her missing husband.
Vidya, who turned the tables for female actors in Bollywood by carrying "The Dirty Picture" strongly and boldly on her shoulders in 2011, plays the lead in "Kahaani".
Composer Shekhar Ravijani recently put it this way: "I think with all the Khans and the Kapoors, we have Vidya Balan now."
The 33-year-old broke the stereotype that a commercial project about a woman doesn't work.
Just like Vidya has become the face of change for women in tinsel town, Kareena seems to have set a new benchmark when it comes to the pay cheque in Bollywood. She reportedly signed on the dotted line for Rs.8 crore.
Between the 1980s and 1990s, Bollywood produced a mixed bag of female-oriented movies - some like "Umraao Jaan", "Prem Rog", "Ram Teri Ganga Meli", "Khoon Bhari Maang", "Nache Mayuri" and "Damini" were hits, while art films like "Mirch Masala", "Arth", "Mandi", "Rudaali", "Lekin", "Sardari Begum", "Mammo", "Mrityudand", "Maya Memsaab" and "Fire" earned critical acclaim.
However, the actresses' take-home was not so impressive.
Close to five years ago, actresses were reportedly paid between Rs.75 lakh and Rs.1 crore, but today Bollywood's 'crore club' also features names like Aishwarya Rai, Bipasha Basu, Katrina Kaif and Priyanka Chopra.
In "Heroine", Kareena will give audiences a behind-the-scenes look at the life and times, the ups and downs of a Bollywood superstar.
According to its director Madhur Bhandarkar, "It will be a landmark film in Kareena's career."
Hopefully, like his earlier experiments -- "Page 3", "Chandni Bar" and "Fashion", which focussed on women - "Heroine" too turns out to be successful, paving the way for many other woman-centric projects in the Hindi film industry.
Indian women are also calling the shots in the corporate world, sports and politics and now it seems the film industry is trying to change as well.
"India is changing; women are on top in every other realm and yet our heroines are the hero's sidekick. I hope more writers see that potential in women-oriented scripts, or scripts where the woman is treated in a strong, powerful, real way," actress Kalki Koechlin told IANS.
Actor-filmmaker Anil Kapoor believes "leading men should support and encourage women-oriented films."
Many, like producer Ekta Kapoor, are furthering the cause with strong projects and bold themes. Her brother, actor Tusshar, is pleased with her efforts.
"I am really very proud that my sister helped change the perception of people towards women and helped them create a better status in society. She has made people believe that women have a lot of potential and is an inspiration for many," Tusshar told IANS.
(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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@ Niharika27 - Did you even READ my comment? I said I had experience with her. Back in 2002 she came to US for a tour and thats when I had an close up experience with her. God what a real B**ch she was. I am ashamed to admitt that I was her fan once.
@rishh- how can u prove that she is not down to earth????? r u her friend or relative??????????...u can't judge anyone simply!!!! and even if she is then no matter we all are still her fan and always be!!!
NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS!!!!
@Niharika - My reason for not liking Kareena is not that she broke up with Shahid. Actually that's the best thing she did in her life. Shahid deserves so much better than Kareena. The reason I don't like Kareena because she is very arrogant and this is from my personal experience. She is not a bad actress but she is very egoist. In many of her interviews her arrogance is quite obvious. I would have been a big fan of her if she was even somewhat down to earth. So there, I gave you my reason for disliking her.
i don't understand why everyone is out to blame kareena?????? ok i agree that she might be no match with vidya...vidya has given the best performence...but pls remember bebo's performence in jab we met, chameli...she was dam good...kareena herself said "THE BEST PERFORMENCE THIS YEAR IS VIDYA BALAN FROM DIRTY PICTURE" isn't that enough for u people????? i know why u people hate her becoz she broke up with shahid and went to saif...then that is her decision no one has any right to comment on that...u guys say kareena is over-rated the what about katrina...has she given any performence oriented role????? i agree she is beautiful but not a good actress...then priyanka she is fab too...but why no one says anything about her...becoz u luv her...similarly we LOVE KAREENA KAPOOR...and we won't listen a single word about her...!!!!!!!!!
u guys are telling she is over-rated then pls wait for her performence in heroine...then u all will get ur answer!!!!!
Edited on:11 March 2012 at 3:14am
Kareena is totally OVER-RATED! She's no match to Vidya. Keeping fingers crossed Kahaani does wonders for her just like her previous projects. After Madhuri, Rani, Kajol and PC if there is anyone worth admiring as an actress it has to be Vidya. :)
For me Vidya B all the way we have a BigB now we have a VictoryB...she was fabulousss in DP wow Kareena is too much hype by the media...she is second now..the way to go Vidya n all the best keep up the gud work n pleaseee never stop wearing ur saris i luvvv them alll...wat ever the fashion critics tell about u...ur saris r unic, different, crazy but luks gud on uuu n i always wait to c u in any event just for ur sarisss
Edited on:07 March 2012 at 1:52am
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