Bold roles, last ditch attempt of single actresses?
Cleavage shows, bold scenes, cringe-worthy belly dance moves, histrionics, melodramatic roles; are they all desperate attempts for a last hurrah by top notch actresses before getting married, asks Meena Iyer
TIMES NEWS NETWORK (TIMES LIFE; October 28, 2012
BLAME it on marriage or mid-career menopause. If you observe closely, you will notice a certain desperation in an actress’ film avatar before she is about to marry and move on to the next phase of her life.
It happens to the best of them. Recent examples are Kareena Kapoor in Heroine and Rani Mukerji in Aiyyaa, who went risqué, but the experiment fell flat on their faces.
Trade analyst Amod Mehra says, “Both are actresses of substance, but their last movies belie their faith in their acting abilities. Rani’s No One Killed Jessica was a class act; Kareena’s Jab We Met and 3 Idiots made her the reigning Bollywood diva. And yet these girls chose movies like Heroine and Aiyyaa.’’
Yes. Here they are, two hugely talented girls in their early 30s, one married; one about to be married; making what their skeptics call disastrous career moves.
Honestly, why would Kareena, who is just-married; or Rani Mukerji, who will reportedly be the bahu of a respected film family, choose films that don’t do them justice at the end of Act I?
Those who have seen Heroine will see that besides displaying some terrific histrionics in this melodramatic film, Kareena has exposed skin and partaken in steamy bedroom scenes; definitely a step further than even what she has done in Omkara. And though she wore swimming costumes in Tashan and Kambakkht Ishq with elan, the cleavage show in Heroine lacked finesse.
As for Rani, in her pre-release interviews, she went to great lengths to explain how her film was not The Dirty Picture (TDP), and how she would never be a part of a film like TDP.
Well, the erotic visuals in the song Dreamum Wakeupum were most certainly in the The Dirty Picture mode. Bebo’s logic for choosing Heroine is the fact that she finally got a role that gave her the status of a mainstream Bollywood hero. She says, “I knew there were certain bold scenes in the film, but the backdrop of the film was of a superstar on the downslide, who is slightly desperate to hold on to her position, both in her personal and professional life. Naturally, there was some physical intimacy.”
Of course, Bebo and Rani are not the only girls who have made such boo-boos in the middle of their careers. Biggies like Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan have thrown caution to the winds just in their pre-marriage phase. If you recall Madhuri in Rajkumar Santoshi’s Pukar, you will notice her wearing a dress that showed her bulging midriff in a bid to combat the onslaught of a young Namrata Shirodkar, who was the other girl paired opposite Anil Kapoor in the film. Also, Ash’s short skirt, skin-show and steamy kiss with Hrithik Roshan in Dhoom 2, were certainly bold in comparison to what this world-class beauty had done until then, in her decade-long career.
Mahesh Bhatt defends the actresses. “Today’s girls can continue to hold their own even after tying the knot. There is no reason for a bold move to be viewed as a desperate one,” he says. Bhatt also believes that actresses in Bollywood go through three phases in their career: First is the baby doll phase; the next is the phase when they want to do thinking cinema that reflects the angst in society; and the third phase is when they have to play the mother to the hero; or the matriarch of the family.
Director Farah Khan says the girls should neither be lauded nor criticized for their choice of films. She says, “Girls get fewer chances to do films that revolve around them. The media is constantly deriding them for being wallflowers in a male-dominated scene. So when they get a film that revolves around them, they want to break free. When actresses accept films like that, they don’t know what the final outcome will be. It’s a chance one takes.”
Runaway bride syndrome
A leading distributor, however, begs to differ. He says, “The runaway bride syndrome that hits actresses stems from their personal insecurity. They know their careers will never be the same after marriage. It’s unfair, but that’s how it works. When they think the sand is slipping through their fingers, they try every trick in the book to hold on.”
Actress Raveena Tandon feels it is unfair to criticise actresses for choosing bold roles. “I was never that ambitious, but for the ones who wish to hold on to their careers, doing different kinds of cinema is the natural way ahead. Initially, most of us play safe with mainstream fare, but then one tries to do the slightly hatke stuff. Even if some scenes are bold, I think it is unfair to see it as a desperate attempt just because one is getting married, or one is 30-something.’’
Fair, but here’s a question: would Kareena or Rani have chosen a Heroine or an Aiyyaa four years ago?
TDP was an exception, but risqué is still a huge risk in Bollywood, and every top notch actress is well aware of it. Most of them play it safe for a larger part of their careers. And when they do decide to go bold later in their career, it’s definitely a calculated move, desperate or not.
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