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Limited Role Of Women In Indian Cinema

Rajesh , 2788

Nowadays, it is hard to find movies where women play the lead, or at the very least, a leading role. Most modern-day heroines are content with gracing the screen in the same roles as generations past, though with skimpier outfits. The situation in Tamil cinema is even worse, as the lead actresses are struggling to even make an impact in the movies.

Director K Balachander’s films are well-known for their portrayal of women as bold personalities, essaying the role of central characters. Not many have followed suit however, with Mani Ratnam being the lone exception. His movies have given equal importance to both genders.

Madhavan may have made his name with his charming appearance as Karthik in Alaipayuthey, but Shalini, in her role as Shakthi, enchanted us with her pretty looks and a crisp portrayal. In Roja, the girl (played by Madhubala) from a small southern village named Sundarapandipuram, fought to free her husband from terrorists in Kashmir. She was bold, angry and immensely brave. The actress rose to the challenge very well as most of the movie was centered around her, rather than her male counterpart Aravindsamy.

However, times has changed now, as heroines are often asked to play second fiddle to the hero. It isn’t just about a compromise on the lead roles, but women are hardly given the opportunity to portray strong characters who remain in public memory. Throughout the movie, heroines are forced to rely on the lead actor, and they hardly have any scenes of their own.

In most movies, songs are kept for the sake of reminding everyone about the heroines. In movies like Anjaan and Thirupachi, the lead actresses Samantha and Trisha respectively appeared only in songs during the second-half of the movie.

The negligible role of an actress in present-day cinema has made everyone wonder what is even the reason for having an actress in a movie at all? Is it simply to show off their body with skinny outfits? Not many directors can answer this question, and yet they carry on mindlessly with the same trend.

It is not in Tamil Nadu alone, but this situation is present throughout the country. According to India-forums.com, Kareena Kapoor says, "In Bollywood it's always between three or four Khans and a couple of other actors. I guess female actors are there for just dancing with them. We have to stand behind Shah Rukh and Salman (Khan) and say, 'Hey! I'm here too, give me something to do.”
Not just that, but heroines are relatively satisfied with their roles. Actress of the calibre like Devika Rani and Zubeidaa, or in Tamil cinema, actors like Suhashini or Revathi who are willing to fight for the empowerment of women are no longer present. Rarely are movies like Dirty Picture and Kahaani are made in the modern day. Kudos to Vidya Balan for championing a forgotten cause. Still it is not enough, as a result of which women are struggling to find a strong foothold in a male-dominated film society.

If Hollywood can celebrate Bridesmaids (a comedy centered around a group of women) with an Oscar nomination, why cannot movies here in this country do the same? If both genders are to be given equal priority, it is high time to start making movies centered around women.