Women in India’s Tinseltown

Are leading ladies empowering Bollywood with their cinema? Priyanka Chopra has recently released her film The Sky is Pink which has Farhan Akhtar as her co-star and is playing a mother in the film

Priyanka Chopra 
Priyanka Chopra

BKD

Are leading ladies empowering Bollywood with their cinema? Priyanka Chopra has recently released her film The Sky is Pink which has Farhan Akhtar as her co-star and is playing a mother in the film. The actress liked the way the story was told which had a very modern take on relationship. The actress did not hesitate to tell Siddharth Roy Kapur and Ronnie Screwala that if she does the film, she would want to co-produce too. Priyanka is also producing films in various languages and her recent Marathi film, Paani, won National Award.

Priyanka Chopra is not in a hurry to sign any films in Bollywood. She says her next project is with Rajkummar Rao which is for an OTT platform and will be shot in Delhi but it is produced by an international firm.

Most of the top heroines, including Alia Bhatt and Deepika Padukone who have won almost all popular awards, are acting in films on their terms. Alia Bhatt has never shied away from working with actors who are smaller in stature in a film. Vicky Kaushal was not the star he is today and Aditya Roy Kapur has never been in a big league but is playing her love interest in her father Mahesh Bhatt’s Sadak 2. She also has started her own production house called Eternal Sunshine and wants to make films that she likes to watch. The actress has taken a minority stake in fashion start-up Stylecracker too.

Deepika Padukone preferred to do a Chhapak over Inshallah which was apparently offered to her. The actress does not mind doing a guest appearance in 83 in which Ranveer Singh plays Kapil Dev. Deepika Padukone will be next seen in Chhapak, a biopic on the life of acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal. A source said, “There was a time an actress would not allow any kind of changes to made to their faces and here Deepika will be seen with a disfigured face.”

Film writer Dilip Thakur has an interesting perspective on the changing scene though he mentions that Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil were the first few to effect that change. But it was bracketed as new age cinema which no longer exists. It is not about long innings like that of Madhuri Dixit and not about the number one race either but about character-oriented films. There is more exposure for our films releasing all over the world and we have access to all kinds of cinemas from all over the world. “Actors are only thinking of good content and not even looking at just being part of big screen but are okay with doing OTT. The stall audience is slowly becoming a rarity and they emerge when a Dabangg or a Housefull 4 surfaces at the box office. Unlike when a Parveen Babi had to do a Rang Birangi when her career was on a downslide, today’s heroine is ready to take the risk with confidence when she is riding a high,” he says.

Trade analyst Taran Adarsh is happy that more and more actresses are making their own cinema and not depending on the big heroes. He says, “It is fantastic and it has happened in the past when Meena Kumari, Nargis and Hema Malini ruled the box office. The whole perception that women-centric cinema does not rake in money at the box office is a myth. Raj Kapoor always made films that had the heroine as the main protagonist and you know how well they did.”

Bharathi Pradhan said, “Just as Salman Khan, Aamir Khan and many other actors have gone into production, it was just a matter of time before women too follow suit. It is not the time of Hema Malini and Rekha when they just acted in films others produced. Earlier you had a few who would take a commission on profits like Zeenat Aman did in BR Chopra’s film Insaaf Ka Tarazu. She made more money than her fee.”

She further adds, “In Hollywood, most of the actresses are involved in the production. There was a phase when people took a percentage of profits and felt happy about it. Then they felt it was not good enough and we would do our production. If heroes can do it, why not the women.”

Kareena Kapoor Khan is definitely one actress who is not chasing people anymore and yet has her hands full. The actress is doing films, judging reality shows and is an RJ too. Her next two films have two big stars but she isn’t running after work.

Katrina Kaif seems to be the only actress who is playing a little safe when it comes to films but choosing the right roles to get appreciation as an actor. Maybe we may get to hear her too doing something that does not need a Khan or a Kumar to promote her.

But not everything is fair. Mission Mangal, we all know, was a Vidya Balan film but it was Akshay Kumar who got paid 10 times more and the film was called an Akshay Kumar film which is unfair to Vidya.

Then, this film was called Stree but it was not Shraddha Kapoor but Rajkummar Rao who became a bigger star.

More and more films are now being centred around women. But Bollywood is yet to show the women the money they deserve.

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