Bollywood still doesn't look kindly at celebrating a women's sexuality on screen and 'Cocktail' is the latest proof
In a scene from 'Cocktail', love-smitten Gautam (Saif Ali Khan) confesses to his glamorous girlfriend (Deepika Padukone) that he has fallen for her docile roommate (Diana Penty). She graciously blesses them and proceeds to show in the next scene why Saif chooses the other woman over her by drunk dancing on a table top in a skimpy dress. For the uninitiated, this is Bollywood's way of conforming to the stereotypes and proving why women-centric films will never find takers. Not saying that Cocktail is one or even close to it. Despite the risqué clothing and foreign locations, the Indian film industry still doesn't look kindly at celebrating a women's sexuality on screen.
Despite Indian cinema's awe-inspiring 100-year journey, some things have not changed. While it gave us path-breaking films like 'Mother India', 'Astitva', 'Arth', 'Mandi' etc, the main grain of a film still survives on stereotypes. So in the 70s, it was a must to have a cigarette-smoking vamp shaking her shimmy for the villain before the climax while the virgin heroine would be shaking her head in despair. Cut to the 2000s and we have the heroines doubling up as item girls. Nothing much has changed. Just as the hero did not fall under the vamp's charms, he will always pick up the docile one to be his bride. Women in Hindi films are portraits of what Indian filmgoers expect women to be. The images confirm their belief in the weakness and pliability of Indian women. This brings us to the eternal debate on whether films reflect life or life imitates films and 'Cocktail' is the latest entry to conform to this societal belief.
When Vidya Balan she tells a blushing Tusshar Kapoor in 'Dirty Picture', 'Mujhe jo chaiye, uska mazaa sirf raat to aata hai', you applaud at the cheeky lines and at the portrayal of sexual liberalization. You see Silk's arrogance and how she uses her body to achieve what she wants. But not for long. In the last scene, she is shown dressing up as an Indian bride before dying. In a country of repressed sexuality, anything other ending wouldn't have made this film a hit that it was. For women-centric films, we have parallel or art cinema and it boils down to salability.
In a decade-old interview, Shahrukh Khan had pointed out why it is pointless to even argue about the disparity."Our society has its own limitations and certain ideas will be unacceptable to our audience. We don't see women as powerful entities. Even today, most heroes will tell you 'I want a homely wife who will take care of my kids and look after the house'. Only when women progress will the scripts progress too." Ten years on, what he said still holds true. Till then, a liberated woman will always be portrayed as one with lose morals while the 'Hindustani aurat' will be taken home to the family. Tsk Tsk Bollywood !
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