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2018 in Retrospect: Women come out shining in year that saw Bollywood’s darkest side exposed

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Bollywood 2018 film

Mumbai, Dec 26: From showing a pregnant woman in her early 50s at centrestage in a mainstream film to pretty faces of Hindi cinema being cast as characters celebrating their sexual desire unabashedly — 2018 offered some milestones for women empowerment in Hindi cinema.

With the so-called “woman centric” films surpassing the Rs 100 crore mark to a male superstar narrating a story on menstruation hygiene or a woman director’s making it as India’s Oscar entry, this trend seems to have here to stay.

This, in the same industry that finally saw a collective consciousness on the darkest and dirtiest side of the business emerge as women came out with some heart-wrenching stories of sexual harassment, courtesy the #MeToo movement.

Following last year’s trend of Hindi films like “Lipstick Under My Burkha”, “Bareilly Ki Barfi” and “Tumhari Sulu”, stories told through the female gaze in the narrative continued this year with films like Rima Das’ “Village Rockstars”, Meghna Gulzar’s “Raazi”, Nandita Das’ “Manto” or Leena Yadav’s “Rajma Chawal”.

raazi-trailer

“I think the influx of women at the workplace is also changing the narratives in our cinema,” Zoya Akhtar, whose “Gully Boys” will premiere at the Berlinale, told IANS.

It’s also noteworthy how both “Badhaai Ho” and “Raazi” are centred on female characters, but none of them was marketed with the “woman-centric” flag. “Veere Di Wedding”, featuring Sonam Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Swara Bhaskar and Shikha Talsania, too clearly promoted the film with a #notachickflick tag.

veere-di-wedding

Junglee Pictures’ Priti Shahani, producer of “Raazi” and “Badhaai Ho”, said: “Perhaps that is why ‘female-oriented film’ was not the interest area for the audience to watch out for. The story of ‘Raazi’ was strong enough to intrigue the audience. When they went to the theatre to watch it, they got a strong story where each character was equally important to complete the story. That is the magic of Meghna.”

On digital entertainment platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, actress Kubra Sait played a transgender character in “Sacred Games” and performed a frontal nudity scene, Rajshri Deshpande went topless for a scene in the same series, while Swara, Kiara Advani and Shweta Tripathi performed masturbation scenes in various projects, breaking the rules surrounding portrayal of women on-screen.

Shweta said: “Whether it is a kissing scene or masturbation, these scenes don’t define us or the character we are playing. Projecting sexuality on-screen is not to titillate but to portray a character in a realistic manner. If only we do not look at sex as a taboo, we will stop judging women characters on-screen and off screen.

“If we actors are performing a scene without inhibition, please do not set us aside with the tag ‘bold’… It has more to it.”

Attempts to project or portray women breaking the social norms also courted criticism.

Citing Swara’s example from “Veere Di Wedding”, Shweta said: “Of course her masturbation scene was criticised, but my blood boiled when on social media, people were tagging her father and asking, ‘How do you look at this as a father?’ This is ridiculous! I have seen how mainstream media constantly talking about bold scenes… as if that’s what we are known for and not our skill as actors.

“Whether it is Richa (Chadha), Radhika (Apte), Rasika (Dugal), myself and others who are constantly pushing the envelope, it is unfortunate to see how not only men but women in the media try to put us Down,” said the “Mirzapur” actress.

While Shweta pointed out how scary it is for a female actor to be judged in the society based on her on-screen image, former beauty queen and actress Tanushree Dutta, who sparked India’s #MeToo movement by recounting how National Award-winning actor Nana Patekar sexually harassed her on the set of “Horn ‘Ok’ Pleasssss” in 2009, told IANS: “In our country, actresses are perceived by their on-screen image mostly.”

Tanushree Dutta accuses Nana Patekar

“It was no different for me back then since I made my debut in Bollywood with a film like ‘Aashiq Banaya Aapne’ that required me to do bold scenes. Since he (Nana) was a veteran National Award-winning actor with so-called respect and popularity, repressing my voice was the easiest thing. So he did that.

“But winning a National award does not make him a good human being,” Tanushree said, adding that her on-screen image gave people the perception that “I am available”.

Year 2019 will be starting with a woman-led film like “Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi”, which will carry forward the hope of celebrating more stories about strong women on the silver screen.

As Shriya Pilgaonkar, the young actress of web series “Mirzapur”, put it: “For me, showing women making love on-screen without hesitation is surely a positive and liberating sign, but that is only one aspect of the change. We only can consider this wave as a change if multi-dimensional characters are written on women consistently in upcoming years.”

IANS

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My wife tells me I need to calm down a bit: Shahid Kapoor

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Mira-shahid

Mumbai, Jan 19: Actor Shahid Kapoor says he and his wife Mira have a different approach when it comes to parenting. He says she tells him to calm down a bit when it comes to their two children, while he feels she is “too casual”.

Shahid opened up about his married life, parenting, his film career and more on an upcoming episode of “Famously Filmfare Season 2”, to go live on Colors Infinity, Colors Infinity HD, Voot and Jio on Sunday, read a statement.

On being asked if being protective about his children was a ripple effect of his parent’s separation, Shahid said: “My wife tells me that I am a little obsessive and protective and that I need to calm down a little bit. I tell her that she is too casual. Having said that, we try and find the middle ground which I think is good for the kids because you need to have both types of parents.

“If both are too obsessive or both are too careless I don’t think that works, so you need to find that balance.”

Shahid and Mira got married in 2015. They have a daughter named Misha and son named Zain.

IANS

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Moving away from centrestage is heartbreaking for any actor: Abhishek Bachchan

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Abhishek Bchchan
Abhishek Bachchan (File Photo)

Mumbai, Jan 19: Actor Abhishek Bachchan’s last few movies before his sabbatical that ended with “Manmarziyaan” were majorly second leads in big budget movies. He says it’s heartbreaking for any actor who has been at centrestage to move away.

Asked how much of a problem it is to stand behind a bigger star, he told filmmaker and “Koffee With Karan” host Karan Johar: “It is heartbreaking to any actor who has been centrestage to be shadowed by another actor in the lead.”

“The industry is a brutal place. I don’t think anyone is entitled to say that I am who I am so I deserve this. No, you have to earn it. Moving from centre to left is heartbreaking but you have to use that hurt to inspire yourself to get back into the centre again.”

In the upcoming episode of “Koffee with Karan”, to be aired on Star World on Sunday, Abhishek was joined on the couch by his sister Shweta Bachchan Nanda, a statement said.

Last year, Abhishek was seen in “Manmarziyaan”, which came two years after he featured in “Housefull 3”. He says his sabbatical from the industry was a result of a self-realisation about complacency towards his work.

Karan asked Abhishek: “Is there a reason you took this backseat from cinema, did you feel the pressure of what was happening in your career, that’s why?”

Abhishek replied: “It’s tricky Karan. I don’t think it was the pressure of what was happening. Rather it was more about my approach towards my work which I thought was incorrect. I was becoming very complacent and comfortable.”

“To call a spade a spade, I was part of huge films, huge budgets, huge stars, huge collections, everything was hunky dory. I had no pressure on me because I was standing behind somebody else who takes all the pressure. I was making lots of money and so were those films…it became very easy. I didn’t come to industry to stand behind anyone,” he added.

IANS

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Kartik, Bhumi, Ananya in ‘Pati Patni Aur Woh’

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pati patni aur woh

Actors Kartik Aaryan, Bhumi Pednekar and Ananya Panday will star in “Pati Patni Aur Woh”, an adaptation of B.R. Chopra’s 1978 film with the same title.

Producers Bhushan Kumar, Juno Chopra and Abhay Chopra who last produced “Bhoothnath Returns” are glad to have come back together for this film directed by Mudassar Aziz.

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