Hindi films that Made You Rethink Gender Roles. Seeing a woman following her husband’s wishes is not something new when it comes to Hindi cinema, but seeing her answer back or not take injustice is refreshingly new. Even if the films representing the latter are few it is hard for one to ignore their existence.
Growing up, women are used to asking permission for the smallest things like going to a movie with friends or joining a class to harbour a new hobby. Many of us are familiar with the retort ‘Do it after you get married’ if ‘ your husband or in-laws allow you to’.
It will be fair to say that Hindi films have been cashing on this idea that women need to be dominated for a long time. Men making films on men being great and breadwinners of the family. For them, since men earn money they have the right to take decisions of women in their lives.
Although, there are Hindi films that makes one rethink the idea of equality in a relationship. Who can forget Hema Malini’s entry shot to save her beau, Dharmendra in Naseeb (1981)? It left audiences as awed as the men in the film.
Speaking of economical equality, the scene from Dil Dhadakne Do comes to mind. When Rahul Bose’s character (Manav) flaunts in front of friends and family gathering that he “allows his wife to work” and Farhan Akhtar’s character (Sunny) snaps, “You allowed her to work? But why does she need your permission to do so?” leading the scene to an awkward silence. This question is not dramatised and many women are proof. No woman needs permission to work or should need to ask her to-be husband, “Will I be allowed to work after marriage?”
One more crucial part of economics is income. How can my wife earn more than me? or How can she work and I take care of household work? Will it make me less of a man? Will society say I am living off my wife’s earning?
These are few questions that one may find one’s partner asking aloud. But thankfully there exists a movie to give a reference to people with such questions. The film Ki&Ka starring Arjun Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor showed a life where Kareena Kapoor works and earns big bucks while Arjun Kapoor willingly takes care of the house. He is not forced into domestic life, he chooses it and shows it is okay if men want to stay back.
In Made in Heaven the popular web series, Sobhita’s Dhulipala’s character is constantly reminded about her husband’s wealth and how it will be great if she leaves her work. To which she replies, “But I like working, I do not want to relax.”
Most often women are shamed for being either-outgoing or for the lack of it. In the film English Vinglish, featuring Sridevi she loves to cook for her kids, make ladoos, and plan her household. But she is shamed by her husband and kids for not being able to speak English. In Piku we see a daughter taking care of her father and household. In Thappad we see how a one-off slap by Vikram played by Pavail Gulati in house party pushes Amrita his wife, (Taapsee Pannu) to re-evaluate her position in their marriage.
Things are slowly changing not just in content but in terms of the dynamics of the film industry. More and more women are taking over behind the scenes as camera persons, scriptwriters, directors and so on. Films like Sherni or Panga are solely relying on the woman actors to drive the box office. Recently there were reports that Deepika Padukone walked out of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film Baiju Bawra after the makers weren’t able to pay equal wages as the male lead. Now why should that be unfair?
Views expressed are the author’s own.
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