Opinion: Kareena Kapoor's Heroine

Deepa Deosthalee

Madhur Bhandarkar’s Heroine is another nail in the coffin––while you've been thinking there's no space left to hammer more nails! And it probably isn't the last one either.

Kareena Kapoor plays heroine in Heroine
Kareena Kapoor plays heroine in Heroine
Image: YouTube still

It is a heartfelt lament by a depressed film lover who visits the cinema week after week in the hope that someone will regale her with stories of heroines she can look up to––spunky women who don't spend their time hanging on the arms of beefy aging heroes, cavorting impishly before pretty global landmarks, dancing to lewd lyrics in skimpy clothes or worse, daring to be spirited, only to be chastised and tamed like wayward children whipped into submission.

Or then, playing helpless damsels in perpetual distress like lambs thrown out to lions, wailing their eyes out, screaming hysterically never to be heard, and ultimately defeated by their desire to break free.

Week after week this writer comes away dejected, flattened by the brute force of the Bollywood machine. For there is no place for heroines in this rarified world of male filmmakers, studio honchos and superstars who have the power to decide how women should think, feel, behave on screen and, by extension, in the real world.

So why must women want to watch films if nobody wants to tell their stories? Why must they align themselves with the male gaze to witness the humiliation and blatant objectification of their lot in film after film? Why don't we remove one half of the human race from cinema altogether––both as subjects (or more accurately, objects) and consumers and pack them off to the kitchen to prepare wholesome meals instead, leaving the business of entertainment entirely to the men? Like in the old days where men played female parts and women raised children? 

The only justification you're offered is in the form of hollow platitudes––we get the films we deserve, etc.

Truth is (as Bhandarkar's film ironically shows) women on screen and the women who play these women have only two options––conform or walk away. Sadly most don't dare to choose the latter. Kareena Kapoor too may spend what's left of her 'shelf life' looking for another 'heroine-oriented' film like this one, in between playing baby doll in the 100 crore blockbusters. And yet she might actually be better off making babies, asAishwarya Rai wisely did, thereby rescuing herself from Bhandarkar's sadistic clutches.

PS: One sincerely hopes Ms. Kapoor has charged that rumoured 'obscene' fee (still a pittance compared to what male stars earn). She may never be a content actress, but at least she will be a rich woman!

Deepa Deosthalee is a film critic and a regular contributor to Cinemascope column. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and does not reflect the views or position of IndiaNewsBulletin.com. More of Deepa's work can be found on her site Film Impressions

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