Four Films And One Series Later, Still No Woman Lead In Rohit Shetty’s Cop Universe

Rohit Shetty Cop Universe
When it comes to cop films Rohit Shetty is the master. He has been entraining the Hindi film lovers with his cop universe movies and signature action sequences since 2011. Most of them have made it big at the box office too. Today he announced yet another cop drama, to be released on OTT called Indian Police Force. The show will be led by Siddharth Malhotra, who will be donning the uniform yet again after the phenomenal success of the film Shershaah.

The teaser gives a familiar feeling of Shetty’s cop universe- guns, jeeps, fight sequences, etc. The only noticeable change is the story shines a light on Delhi Police instead of Mumbai or Maharashtra. But where are the women? Is there almost no place for women in this cop universe, despite the fact that female cops form a significant chunk of the Indian police force and have time and again impressed us with their work?

Rohit Shetty Cop Universe

Shetty’s Cop Universe includes films, animated series, video games and now a web series. It is a shared universe where there is a crossing over common plot elements, settings, cast and characters. Can there be a universe where women do not have a significant role to play?

Sara Ali Khan Rohit Shetty

Sara Ali Khan and Rohit Shetty

The first two films to release in this series were Singham and Singham Returns. These focus on a cop named Bajirao Singham. Ajay Devgn plays the role of an honest DCP who is always fighting for justice. The third, instalment in this series is Simmba which was released in 2018. It has Sangram “Simmba” Bhalerao, a corrupt Inspector from the same town as Bajirao. The film stars Ranveer Singh and Sonu Sood, and also marked the launch of actor Sara Ali Khan in Bollywood. In Simmba, Devgn reprised his role as Bajirao Singham in a cameo. 

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The franchise then got yet another cop film, Sooryavanshi, starring Akshay Kumar as DCP Veer Sooryavanshi. There is also Little Singham an animated series, greatly popular with kids which is part of this franchise. There are games too. All of these have a single point agenda of showing men as hypermasculine. While many of the films have had successful female actors in them but they add nothing more to the narrative and the cop universe than glamour quotient. But the cop universe didn’t even get that right.

In Sooryavanshi, for instance, Katrina Kaif was paired opposite Akshay Kumar and recreated the famous “tip tip barsa paani” song. The song did start a conversation about selective ageism in Bollywood, as it was originally featured in the film Mohra and was picturised on Raveena Tandon and Akshay Kumar. While the latter was retained in the remake, Tandon was replaced with Katrina Kaif.

top bollywood moments, Sooryavanshi Tip Tip Song

Image: Screengrab from Sooryavanshi Tip Tip Song

The Indian film industry is a huge place, the beauty of it is that a lot of genres can and have co-existed in it. No one is expecting realistic cinema when they come to watch a film by Rohit Shetty. However, when you talk about franchises, they are films with connected universes, sequels, spin-offs. It is imperative that over the years they mature, do away with what does not work for the current audiences and bring in diversity. Marvel, Star Wars and James Bond films have done that. Diversity and inclusion should not be left as a corporate requirement, it has to happen at all levels. Films that are so integral to our lives need to project what we want to see in society.

Wonder Woman, Twilight and The Hunger Games series have had women as the lead and have done decently well. Perhaps it is time we turn a new page and write afresh.

The views expressed are the author’s own. 

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