An innocuous comment of Lara Dutta while appearing in one of the episodes of Koffee with Karan sums up the path that the Indian female actors have traveled during the last sixty years of journey that cinema has undertaken in the country. She said that there is a whole change in approach about picking up the female actors, and glamorous actors are being considered for and roles are being built around their glamour quotient.
Were one to flag the film that really heralded the advent of glamorous female actors in a big way, and established as a norm, then DHOOM would stand out as the film to do so. Never before was the lead film actor shown displaying so much of skin with finesse and brutal confidence as it was done in DHOOM. There after it was the deluge. It was the dance of Tata Young who was shown serenading three hunks in one song that add an element of novelty to the approach towards glamour as it was shown in the Hindi films and after that there was no looking back.
In the earlier era, even just a decade ago, glamour was never associated like hand in glove with the female lead actor as it has become now. If there was to have the quotient of glamour that had to be associated with the female actor, then the easiest way out was to device a double role and one of the roles which would have the element of glamour for the female actor, would most of the times would be with the villains and would never find heroine herself. It was there in WOH KAUN THI, SHARMILEE, and many such films. Otherwise the oomph on the screen was the responsibility of the vamp be it Helen or Bindu. For a short interlude Parveen Babi and Zeenat Aman took the mantle but the affirmed grip on the situation happened with the current crop of the present generation.
Could a heroine portraying a sati savitri image think about asking this from her male co-star, whether he was a virgin, as Preity Zinta did with arrogant confidence in DIL SE or the portrayal of an unwed mother that she did it in KYA KEHNA. There were earlier instances of unwed mothers as it happened in ARADHANA but the female actors were not brazen enough to utter a dialogue that they are having a baby out of the wedlock. So for the female actor, the escape route was founded through announcing to the world that the male and female actors had married and God was the witness. Never was there an acknowledgement earlier that the male colleague had deserted the female colleague. KYA KEHNA brought this out emphatically and became a source of inspiration for many a women in the country to take the monumental decision of going ahead to bring babies out of the wedlock after being ditched. This film also hammered one more nail into the coffin that the films do not have a message that may give a new meaning to the norms of the society.
KYA KEHNA is a milestone as it was the commercial cinema, which was talking about this fact. Art cinema had been doing it, but the wider outreach of commercial cinema made the message go across all over the country. This was manifesting from the fact that the film was accepted allover the same country, and it was a run away hit.
A significant flag on the progress of female actors was DHOOM:2, where the female actor AISHWARYA RAI had so much pride on her physique that she displayed the same with chutzpah, which was one of the first for the industry as a top notch actor was doing the same. It was owing to the glamour quotient of this kind and the ability to stand up to what one was convinced about made Neha Dhupia come back with a rebound to start vying for top slots, after making appearance in bold and glamorous films within a period of three years. This would not have been possible earlier at all; if one were to re-jig the memory the case of Rehana Sultana is an ample testimony to this fact. She also tried to do the same thing, but she faded out into obscurity in just a matter of time.
The icing on the cake on the eve of the sixtieth anniversary is the release of CHAK DE, which is a tribute to women hood and has been a success owing to its contribution towards the spirit of empowerment. More and more such films as they continue to hit the silver screen on a regular basis would give another milestone for the Indian film industry where it to be viewed from the perspective of contribution towards the cause of women of the country.