From Kaleidoscope to Multiplex, India has come up a long way with its fascination over moving images. And as it should be, women have constructed a great part of this journey by being the subject of it as well as by being spectators. Either way, one cannot separate Indian women from Indian cinema. And with every passing moment, the fairer brigade has sensed a strong attraction and attachment with the magical world of celluloid. Those days are gone when the womenfolk hardly used to make a part of the audience; credit goes to the orthodoxy of Indian society and its prejudices to limit the world of women. Hence their likes and dislikes and opinion about movies were not considered worthy. The portrayal of women in Indian cinema was solely dependent on directors’ perspectives.
Now, women make such a huge part of movie audience that movies are made targeting the women viewers at large. Women film directors have also made films from woman’s perspective to change the otherwise-male-dominated art form. From serious art house film directors like Aparna Sen, Kalpana Lajmi, Deepa Mehta, Mira Nair to commercial film directors Zoya Akhtar, Farah Khan, Gurinder Chadha – India has produced a number of women film directors who set a new tone to the characters and storylines. The stories and plots received a different angle altogether. Most of their creations were highly praised by the women viewers as they could instantly relate to the characters and incidents portrayed in those films.
As with Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding which dealt with a very sensitive issue of child molestation, not only had it just bagged awards like Golden Lion and nominations in BAFTA etc., it struck a vulnerable chord with the women audience. For some of them, this film said their story, voiced their long suppressed angst against some of the worst social norms and practices. Aparna Sen is another highly revered film director whose most of the movies are women-centric. And, no prize for guessing here, most of Mrs. Sen’s creations are huge hit among the female audience.
Not only women directors, even today’s male directors are also showing keen interest in making films, which are women-centric. No wonder, these films are also being created to win over the women population of India. Here a noted name is Bollywood’s realistic film director Madhur Bhandarkar who’s Chameli, Fashion, Corporate or Heroine, every single film is based on a woman character as the centre of the storyline. It is pretty apparent that today’s young brigade of girls or the independent women, they are not any more interested in typical Bollywood masala flicks where the only significance of heroines is dancing around trees clad in transparent chiffon sarees.
This change is the perspective is so strong that production houses such as Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions (which is considered to be the connoisseur of such typical Bollywood strategies) are investing in movies like Hasee Toh Phasee, story of an IITian eccentric, geek, tomboyish girl who is nowhere close to the heroine stereotypes. The tides of change in perspective have already swept over the minds of Indian female audience and the base is almost set. It seems the history of Indian cinema is going to be rewritten with a fresh new start from now on.