‘Women in our films have moved away from stereotypes’

Noting that the visual representation of women has changed dramatically over the past two decades, Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan Monday saluted the way contemporary Indian films portray multi-hued female characters which have moved away from the pre-set stereotypes of wife, vamp or the sacrificing mother.

‘From the 1990s, along with the changing role of the women in India, the female protagonists began to change drastically. In the last two decades, the visual representation of women has changed dramatically.

‘Whereas a typical westernised women was considered a vamp a few decades ago, associated with vice and venom, today films show women in western designer clothes. This is part of India’s globalisation,’ he said, delivering the inaugural address at the 20th Kolkata International Film Festival here. Rather than any implied judgement on morality, the clothes indicate the affluent lifestyle of the new middle class on which these films focus, he said.

Asserting that the girls now were far more conscious of their rights, liberated and educated, Amitabh said: ‘This is now strongly reflected in Indian cinema. Films recently released have redefined the Indian women.’  Referring to films like Chandni Bar and Page 3 to buttress his point, he said: ‘These characters have had many, many shades that have moved away from the pre-set stereotypes of wife, of vamp or the sacrificing mother.’ Big B’s thought-provoking speech traced the projection of women from the initial days of Indian cinema to the contemporary period.

He said in terms of remuneration, status and roles the leading ladies of the early era like Devika Rani, Zubeida Mehta and Sobhana Samarth were on par with their male counterparts. ‘They paved the way for several women in our films, and through the years, a number of fresh stars have brought about a sea change in attitudes. They made it possible to essay innovative women roles in Indian films, especially mainstream cinema,’ he said.
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