“Main tumhare baache ki maa banne wali hun. Mujhe chhodke mat jao ” she used to scream in the 80’s. “Yeh shaadi mat todo Ramesh, main barbaad ho jaungi. Babuji mar jaenge” ran another teary-eyed dialogue. Call it a reflection of the times back then or the safe ‘Tried & Tested’ formula method of filmmaking, the bollywood heroine never really got the spotlight she deserved. Oppressed, cast away and being taken for granted was often mistaken with the holier than thou -Bhartiya Nari image.
Time and again we saw many movies , where the heroine sometime raised illegitimate children suffering innumerable hardships, only to get solace once reunited with her lost lover. She committed suicide after giving birth , because the society just could not accept a Lawaris. A Failed marriage or engagement was reason enough for the hero’s sister to drink poison or put the ceiling fan in the house to good use. Sometimes wonder whether these scenes were on purpose, so that our angry young man could have revenge the fastest way possible!
Her only source of happiness was that of her Hero’s. After the initial ‘play hard to get’ scenes to the eventual love songs with all the trees & flowers of the world giving her company, she hardly played a pivotal role in most films. There were obviously a few exceptions like Mother India, Seeta aur Geeta , Guide etc. However these were very few and far in between. There was also this fear of the public not accepting an actress for an unconventional role since she had the ‘achi ladki’ or ideal bahu tag attached to her.
The scenario changed a little bit in the early 90’s. Once a heroine established herself as a superstar or a top grade actress she could afford to experiment. Filmmakers then never shied from writing scripts centered around the established heroine. Khoon Bhari maang, Chalbaaz, Beta etc are all such examples. But then a newcomer still had to gyrate in her wet sarees and do the ‘bachaoo’ dialogues before the filmmakers considered her seriously.
At the turn of the earlier decade, the millennium actresses looked at these roles to help redefine their careers or sometimes make successful comebacks. For Preeti Zinta in Kya Kehna ,Kareena Kapoor in Jab We Met and Vidya Balan in Kahaani & Dirty picture, these offbeat roles went a long way in establishing a strong image for these actresses.
However what has changed now is that new and sometimes out of the blue actresses are being considered for such roles.The best part- they have absolutely no qualms doing it. To hell with the ‘Typical Hollywood Heroine’ image seems to be the norm.
Parineeti as Meeta ( the pill popping nerd, who has no issues proposing to her sister’s fiancee) in Hasee toh Phasee, Kangana as Rani (the girl who ventures on her honeymoon-solo, post breakup )&Lisa Haydon as the sexy Vijayalakshmi ( the unwed mother with no straps or should we say no strings attached attitude) in Queen and the latest being Aalia as Ananya in 2 states ( non-stereotypical Tam-brahm girl) were all characters that one can relate to in daily life. Bold,quirky, gutsy or simply plain, these characters have redefined the typical bollywood heroine image. In fact the real life connect that one gets when you see them on screen, makes these characters lovable and relatable.
Whether it is a fluke/trend or our films are reflecting the different women in our society unabashedly, only time will tell. But one thing is for sure these endearing characters are here to stay and rock the box office as well.
More power to the Bollywood Heroine or should we say The Reel Bhartiya Nari!