New Delhi: Bollywood actresses have broken the Sati-Savitri mould and are no longer all about sugar, spice and everything nice, says a book that documents their journey from a time when cinema was considered a profession beneath the dignity of ‘respectable’ women to an era where women actors are icons and idols.
“Mother Maiden Mistress: Women in Hindi Cinema” by Bhawana Somaaya, Jigna Kothari and Supriya Madangarli records and reviews the woman in Hindi cinema— the mythical, the Sati-Savitri, the rebel, the avant-garde and the contemporary.
According to Somaaya, the definition of the perfect Indian woman is changing just the way it should.
“The women characters are individuals not just glamour dolls. It was inevitable they changed to suit a changing society. At the same time it is important to say that there are no absolutes. In the past there were women who played progressive roles and now there are women who play regressive
roles,” the film critic-writer said.
It’s been a long hundred years since Dadasaheb Phalke had to settle for a man to play the heroine in India’s first feature film “Raja Harishchandra” (1913) and women in Hindi cinema have come a long way since then.
”Now, women have been getting their due. The heroines in the 50s and to a certain extent in the 60s played centre stage. The rot set in in the 70s when she was relegated in the background to allow the men to call the shots. But the neglect hurt and she made a back entry through art cinema in the
70s and parallel cinema in the 80s. Shabana Azmi was the
pioneer of the new woman during these decades,” Somaaya says.