On casually browsing through the release calendar of 2011, I realised that there is a plethora of films all set to arrive which boast of some of the top female names that Bollywood (sorry Salman!) boasts of today. Priyanka Chopra, Kareena Kapoor, Vidya Balan - every woman who has been around for long has something big on her plate this year.
'What's new?' - one may ask. After all, every Bollywood film does have a place for a leading lady and today, leaving aside a stray instance or two, none of the top females worth their salt would agree to do a film and allow herself to be presented as a mere showpiece. 'Matter' is of as much significance as 'moolah' and the ladies have been demanding both more than ever before. But yes, there is 'something new' indeed. And that is the entire focus that has shifted towards telling many a film which have a woman protagonist playing the central role rather than being just an accompanying partner.
In this week's 'Reflections', let's go through the change that is taking place, albeit a little slowly, but definitely in a positive direction.
There is a hero. And then there is a heroine. But then if No One Killed Jessica, the first success of 2011 has to be studied, who is the hero here? No wonder, the line has started diminishing between the sexes. Rani Mukherjee and Vidya Balan could have taken different approach when fighting their battle but they were indeed the heroes of the film. The change had begun and it was high time that it was milked to the fullest.
This was evidenced in Dhobi Ghat where one character who was definitely sure about herself and could take the honour of being central to the plot, was the one played by Monica Dogra. Aamir could be a recluse, Prateik could be a romantic and Kriti could be someone mysterious but Monica was someone who was as simple and uncomplicated as one would have wanted.
The biggest of them all
However, if at all there is a big promise being made, it is in 7 Khoon Maaf. 'Getting away with murder' may well have been an adage but it's true meaning is all set to be explored with 7 Khoon Maaf. Priyanka may have agreed to be seen in a mere half a dozen odd scenes in Kaminey but then she knew that for his next, Vishal Bhardwaj wouldn't have to look elsewhere.
Result? Priyanka is now towering over each of her seven men, whether in the promos, campaign and of course the film by itself. Not a mean achievement when it boasts of a couple of internationally acclaimed actors and two hunks who could have well opted to run a solo hero film on their own name. Still, they seem fine playing one of the many men that Priyanka romances. And then kills! Still, there is no sign of pain.
The usual suspect
Another girl who continues to find author backed roles for herself is Kangna Ranaut. Woh Lamhe was her film. Gangster too was more hers than Shiney's or Emraan's. And in Fashion, she again made a place for herself. Leaving aside faux pas like Knock Out and No Problem, Kangna has stood her stand and now even has a film, the title of which has her name coming before that of the hero.
Tanu Weds Manu may have two characters in it but by the look of the things, Madhavan seems pretty happy telling the story 'about a girl' through his eyes. Now with the central protagonist turning out to be a female all over again, it is clear that filmmakers are thinking of making a change. And thankfully for all concerned, they are doing their job quite well!
Someone else who seems to have done his job well is Rohan Sippy who has gone ahead and done the unthinkable. For the publicity design of his Dum Maro Dum, he hasn't bothered to feature anyone from his strong cast comprising of Abhishek Bachchan or Bipasha Basu. He has just gone ahead and presented the flat tummy of a girl (is she really Deepika?) with Dum Maro Dum written over it.
Yeah girls, now that's awesome!
The new entrants
One hopes though that the awesomeness continues with the new brigade of filmmakers joining the show as well. For her first production Chalo Dilli, one can well expect Lara Dutta to play her cards well. With Vinay Pathak being the only other recognised 'star' in the film, one can well expect whose story would it eventually turn out to be. Lara Dutta may have not told the world about the surprise that she has up her sleeves but the least that one expects from her is a story that would be captivating and bring to fore a modern outlook, something which is expected from an ex-Miss Universe.
As for the other new entrants who are getting together for yet another voyeuristic saga (after Love Sex Aur Dhokha) by Ekta Kapoor, Raginni MMS, the cards have already been laid down on the table. An MMS, a woman and a sex scandal - one can well expect women power to be hitting hard in a big way here. Add to this the fact there is a supernatural angle thrown in as well and one can be rest assured that women are going to haunt and kill in a big way here!
If looks could kill then well, there is a lot in the offing before the end of the year. Murder was pretty much a Mallika Sherawat film. We all know that. Now will Murder 2 do the same for Jacqueline Fernandez? I hope so. No really, I indeed hope so. After all to see a demure and charming Jackie (as the girl is fondly called) was a little too sweet and saccharine in her earlier outings. Now let's have some 'tadka', something that Bhatts are pretty much promising with their franchise outing.
Of course Emraan Hahsmi is expected to deliver; after all it is his home territory. But really, it would be surprising if Jackie doesn't go the whole way and make the best use of the platform. Come on girl, make it happen. This is the time for women to take centre stage so don't hold back.
Now that's a sense which Vidya Balan has pretty much imbibed in her over the years. Parineeta, Bhool Bhulaiyaa, Ishqiya and of course No One Killed Jessica - you name it. She is the one who is remembered most when talks veer towards these films and her upcoming Kahaani by Sujoy Ghosh should be no different. Playing a woman who fights for herself, she is not one of the protagonists in the film; she is THE protagonist here. No wonder, scripts are being adjusted for her so that she gives her best for other female centric films. Case in point being The Dirty Picture.
Ladies V/S Ricky Bahl - Now this could well be the killer of all names. Leave aside the fact that it is the hero's name - Ricky Behl - which features in the title, the very fact that 'Ladies' begins it all pretty much ensures that women power will leave pretty much from the front. Yes the film would showcase what Ranveer Singh is capable of (all over again after Band Baaja Baaraat) but Anushka Sharma, one of the rare newcomers to have enjoyed at least two films so far that have centred around her, is pretty much expected to shine.
No wonder, with all women out there enjoying their best time under the sun and picking and choosing the most terrific scripts that are coming their way, the filmmaker who could well be smiling most is Madhur Bhandarkar. Forever known for making female centric films, his Heroine may not have kick started last year but with such women power all around him, a nod of approval from someone who deserved the script (rather than the other way round) could just be round the corner!