Recently, two top Bollywood actresses Vidya Balan and Kareena Kapoor got hitched, which is not the most heart rending news for Sunny Leone obsessed Internet savvy sections of young India.
Importantly, both Balan and Kapoor declared that they would continue to do movies post-marriage. Would that be unusual?
It would be, if one studied precedents of Hindi cinema, though an exception would have to be made for Leone here.
There is no history of a top grade very sexy international porn star making it so big in B-grade Hindi cinema that whip the A-grade movies, in box office returns, though not intellectual film critic star ratings.
It does not matter if Leone is married, unmarried, mother, father, speaks, lip synched or remains silent as long as she does the stuff she does. She is still learning to speak Hindi, while her husband is the main protagonist in her eponymous porn website doing what he is supposed to do, but for others to watch.
Matters are not so straight forward for mainstream Indian actresses. The personal choices of these divas have always been linked to professional progress unless of course they choose to take the Leone leap of raw cinema. Nobody has as yet.
They are getting bold, like kissing and size zero bikini appearances to offer any age male audiences the big screen female body-fix, in keeping with competition.
The politically correct explanation to queries by the media is script demanded the stripping and smooching or it is interest of good cinema and a reflection of society.
One does not come across too many tiny bikini clad women in real life in India, excluding foreigners in Goa beaches.
Still, Indian screen beauties have struggled in the past to fit the supposed Indian male cinemagoer mental stereotype that obsesses about virgins and virginal women. The actresses needed to be single and available, in the mind of the Indian audiences, to be acceptable as heroines, was the definition.
Thus, most Hindi movie diva careers were done once married, as teens, twenties or thirties. Even if they wanted to act, the producers were reluctant to cast them as heroines or even accept a desperate offer for a skin showing item number.
They could, upon insistence and personal equations, play the role of dull and thus low paying whining, crying and often dying mother, younger sister or sister-in-law of the main hero, who could be much older in real life. Only, the gorgeous Dimple Kapadia could make a comeback after breaking off with hubby Rajesh Khanna.
Actors, of course have carried on forever, wrinkled, double chinned, though to take on current super star, the middle aged Salman Khan, the paunch probably needs to go. Marriage, families, extra-marital affairs have actually contributed to male actors aura transforming them into more desirable, dependable, attractive package that buttresses female following. This phenomenon of course goes to show that understanding psyches of women is not an easy process.
Amitabh Bachchan heroines regressed to play the role of his mother as well. The legendary actor successfully danced around trees with women he could grandfather, like Salman Khan does today with girls he could father.
In South India actors Kamal Hassan and Rajnikant serenade women they could great grandfather. This brings us back to Balan and Kapoor or even the absolutely ravishing mother of a young boy Chitrangada Singh.
There is Kajol or the stunning comeback by the 80s siren Sridevi, mom to two girls now and item number specialist Malaika Arora.
Today, Indian Hindi movie actresses, closely linked to men, married, with kids, think nothing of discontinuing their careers.
Have Indian male audiences changed? Maybe they have, maybe they have not. The female stereotypes in real life are undergoing transformation for sure, given emergence working, career driven, economically independent, smart, educated women in our midst.
There could be a Leone effect. Having watched her and her online peers’ innumerable times, movie goers probably appreciate meat in female roles, women who crack jokes, act, deliver good dialogues, dance well, emote, are part of a bigger story line rather than essaying a show of body parts.
Or else Balan would not have successfully delivered a Kahani or a Dirty Picture, Kapoor a pulsating dance item number for super hit Dabangg-2, Sridevi English Vinglish and Arora the Munni song.
Maybe the assessment is incorrect. But, it is very good to witness Indian actresses aspire for a longer career run while being mainstream, commercial and relevant. It is healthy, though it is still unlikely that Hindi songs will feature aging women prancing about with boys old enough to be their grandsons, unless it is Rekha.
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