Thursday, 4 August 2011

The 'controlling bitch' v/s the 'free-spirited woman'

Call it homesickness, call it lack of social options, call it what you will - V. and I watch almost every Bollywood movie that releases. We saw Delhi Belly and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. While watching them, I enjoyed both these movies, but something kept bothering me, which I think I have now figured out. In both movies, the female characters are ostensibly more 'independent' than usual Bollywood heroines - they function as more than love interests. However, within this larger rubric, there seems a duality in play - the 'controlling bitch' opposed by the 'free-spirited' woman. The 'controlling bitch' is the one you have to get away from, while the free-spirited and independent, secure with herself woman is the one you have to be with. Shenaz, Vir Das's girlfriend whom you remember as 'chudail' rather than by a name and Kalki are the 'bitches'in these two films, while Katrina and Poorna Jaganathan are the evolved modern women.
My problem with this is that the idea of independence in these scripts is not independence in itself, but rather an independence that functions to make the woman more attractive to the man. They may not be 'only the love interest', but the implication is "Become your own person. It makes you way more cooler, i.e. makes you desirable."
In contrast with this is Anushka in Band Baaja Baaraat. Shruti is independent and her own person, but unless you hit Bittoo on the head with that fact, that is not how he is going to articulate his attraction towards her. Does that mean that all male leads have to be Jat boys for the women's independence to be 'of itself?' I don't think so. I think it needs better writing, a bit more thinking. As far as the writers of these movies are concerned, they do seem well-intentioned, so here's hoping we can see less forced oppositions and more multilayered characters in the future.