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Films on women, by women make their mark
By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
With male bonding being the big box office spinners of the year -- witness the success of "Khakee" and "Masti" -- women find the going tough, but not impossible.
While men whoop it up at the box office this summer with upcoming macho films like "Deewar" and "Dev", women of substance are carving out their own niche.
Says Kareena Kapoor: "Sure, men have always ruled Bollywood. But I feel actresses down the ages, and even now when so much is at stake, continue to make space for themselves. My sister Karisma did a number of strong women-oriented roles like 'Fiza', 'Zubeida' and 'Dil To Pagal Hai'.
"I'd like to believe that even in my two male-centric films 'Dev' and 'Yuva', I've something substantial to do. And in Dharmesh Darshan's 'Bewaffa' I play one of the main characters."
In fact, "Bewaffa" revolves around Kareena's character while the male stars Anil Kapoor and Akshay Kumar come and go according to the plot.
Continues Kareena: "True, Amitji and Om Puriji play the main roles in Govind Nihlani's 'Dev'. But I've a very prominent part in the main conflict. Similarly, in Mani Ratnam's 'Yuva' my track with Vivek Oberoi isn't a decorative one. I wouldn't do walk-on part even if the directors are top calls like Govindji and Mani Sir."
The women this season may be sidelined, but not defeated.
Even as celluloid is swamped by muscled macho men, women are getting ready to have their sway come what may -- or June. Lined up are some very strong women-oriented films.
In Tanuja Chandra's "Film Star", Mahima Chowdhary plays a conniving film actress who cannibalises another woman's life and lives to face the music.
Tanuja Chandra's earlier women-dominated films include "Dushman" (Kajol in a double role), "Sangharsh" (Preity Zinta as a female cop who falls in love with a dangerous criminal) and "Yeh Zindagi Ka Safar" (Amisha Patel as an illegitimate child who sets out to find her mother).
Says Chandra: " 'Film Star' gives Mahima a chance to blossom like never before. I'll always make films about female protagonists. That's what I'm comfortable with."
Another feminine film lined up for the summer is Deepak Shivdasani's "Julie" in which Neha Dhupia plays a call girl. The director swears the film doesn't revel in sleaze. "Rather, it's a sensitively told tale of a prostitute's efforts to find a place in society. The closest parallel would be B.R. Ishaara's 'Chetna' in which Rehana Sultan played a hooker looking for rehabilitation."
And in debutant director Manish Jha's "Matrabhoomi", also scheduled for June, Tulip Joshi plays a startling female avatar, a woman in a woman-less rural society in Bihar who is used for desperate procreation.
Clearly the role model for women protagonists isn't Mallika Sherawat's adulterous "Murder".
"How can it be when family audiences clearly rejected the film?" asks Suman Sinha, the Bihar exhibitor for "Murder".
"Mallika Sherawat has a fan following only among boys and single men. The families love Aishwarya Rai and Kareena Kapoor. And the role models for female roles will continue to be Aishwarya Rai's 'Devdas' and Kareena Kapoor's 'Bewaffaa'."