Traditional Leading Ladies in Bollywood
Indian mythology and religious beliefs have posed a deep impact on Bollywood which has often visualized women as a paramount of values and virtues, omitting the probability of any wrongdoings. The Bollywood flicks which followed the country's independence have sketched the leading ladies as the versions of Sita. These films have played a key role in establishing the patriarchal values in the society where women were characterized only by their obedience and loyalty. Some of the prominent examples of such portrayal can be found in films like Pati Parmeshwar, Biwi ho to Aisi, Devi, Gauri and Dahej. The leading ladies of such films have been the submissive and passive wives and an icon of self sacrifice for their families. Although the patriarchal society had been the subject of criticism in such films, the female characters have received great patronage for being the epitome of self sacrifice and staying by their husband's side in spite of emotional and physical violence. Age old traditions, values, principles, ideals and morals have continued to influence the framework of Bollywood films since ages and such portrayals are the outcome of the same. Thus, instead of projecting the behavioural features of a normal human being these films elevated Indian women to a stature where they are completely incapable of doing anything wrong or in favour of their own interest. The existence of their ambitions, desires, perspectives and grievances have been entirely omitted from the scene.
Changing Trends of Leading Ladies in Bollywood
Although a number of movies have strengthened the traditional sketch of a woman, deviations from the trend have also crawled in to the silver screen over time. The movie Abhimaan which presents a woman carrying greater talent than her husband was a little deflection from the stereotype depictions. However, the wife's sacrifice in the later part to promote her husband's music career once again reflected the conventional mind set and adherence to traditional values. Along the journey Bollywood has also picked up the contemporary concepts of working women, keen to carve out their own identity. Hema Malini as a horse carriage driver in Sholay, Jaya Bachchan as a singer in Abhimaan and a knife sharpener in Zanjeer, Rakhee as a doctor in Kala Pathar and a corporate secretary in Trishul and Vidya Sinha working in a private firm in Chhoti Si Baat definitely represent the changing trends in Bollywood. Some other examples in which the lives of leading ladies of the movies have contradicted with traditional values include Lajja, Aandhi, The Dirty Picture, Astitva, Zubeidaa and Daamini. In these movies women have been portrayed as strong entities having their own desires, ambitions and capabilities. Although the scenarios and concepts of Bollywood films have changed over time with respect to the characterization of leading ladies and several movies have presented the concealed aspects and potentials of women, their ratio still remains quite low.
Bollywood and Women Empowerment
Although in the era of booming information technology people are not solely dependent on movies for their enlightenment and social awareness, as a part of social media Bollywood still bears the responsibility of illuminating the concept of women empowerment rather symbolizing women as an insignificant entity laden with traditional values. Popular cultures and sketches of leading ladies are in dire need of a challenge for a realistic portrayal of their characters. Some of the prominent films are Daman, Chadnibar, Kahani, Dor and many others. Inclusion of sensitivity towards gender issues and related concepts is an important requisite of Bollywood in contemporary times. Bollywood films have now travelled to the international arena which demands an accurate depiction of the needs and potentialities of Indian women. In addition to this the society also needs a boost for women empowerment, a part of which can be effectively provided by the leading ladies of Bollywood.
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