“Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong, it’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.”-G. D. Anderson
Recently, Bollywood is also following the trend of making women-centric films and content. It kills two birds with one stone- spreading awareness and making commercial profits. But, do these films reach the goal? Let’s find the story behind the scene.
All Bollywood movies start with the declaration, “Smoking is injurious to health. Smoking causes cancer”. Ironically, in most of the films, the hero enters smoking a cigarette. The same thing happens in most of the films when Bollywood tries to give a message on feminism. It seems like the characters or even the plots are not doing justice with the declaration of ‘feminism’.
Feminism is never a fight for superiority between women and the other sexes. No woman, who understands the true meaning of feminism, will ever try to establish that women are much more powerful than men. Rather, feminism is a belief in full social, economic, and political equality for women.
First of all, let us be clear on a point that we are not talking about films from the last century or not even the films of early 2000. Films like ‘Kavi Khusi Kavi Gham’ (2001), ‘Rehnaa Hai Tere Dil Me’ (2001), or Vivah (2006) are out of the list because there is no point in finding feminism in such films. Rather, let us start with a very recent film- ‘Gehraiyaan’ (2022). The film takes us to the ‘stuck’ situations of the characters and tries to give a message that no matter how stuck we are in our problems, life always gives us a choice to move on. Alisha (Deepika Padukone) is seen as a modern, self-dependent woman who plays the role of a yoga instructor and bears the living cost of not only herself but also of her boyfriend, Karan. Though both the characters of Alisha and Tia (Ananya Pandey) seem very realistic from a point of view, they both fail to reach the traits of ‘equality’ that feminism demands. Even in this post-modern, post-pandemic time, Bollywood’s female characters can not become those women who have faith in their power. Of course, one may argue that film is a mere reflection of society, and in reality women, especially Indian women are not confident about their equal powers and rights.
Mardaani (2014) and Mardaani 2 (2019) are films with female protagonists and commercial success. But, have you thought about the title? We all know that in Hindi, ‘Maard’ means ‘man’. Why is the valour of a woman called ‘Maardani’? The whole spectrum of a successful woman’s journey gets disrespected in the title of the film itself. Kangana Ranaut’s film ‘Queen’ (2013) beautifully portrays the journey of self-discovery by the female protagonist, and does not give us many chances to criticise the authenticity of the character. Yet, in this film too, we raise eyebrows when we see Rani (Kangana) sending her short-dressed image to Vijay (Rajkumar Rao) to get back his attention. The development of the character stumbles here for a moment. Not only films, but also web series like ‘Four More Shots Please!’ represents a picture of faux feminism for the Indian youth.
It is time to notice these little false steps. Do not let the wrong definition of modernity or feminism overpower your sense and sensibility. Above all, it is always a matter of choice.