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03-13-2010, 01:05 PM #1
Bollywood still not ready for women directors
From the heart locker to the hurt locker. Did you see the triumphant look in Katheryn Bigelowís eyes when she walked past her ex-husband James Cameron to collect the award for best director which Cameron so wanted?And she did it on Womenís Day. What a victory for women in the entertainment business.
Back home, Asha Parekh is her deceased parentís only child. One of the reasons she never married was because she feared the husband would not allow her to look after her old and ailing father after her motherís death.
Flash-forward to aaj ki nifty nari. Every time I see Kareena Kapoor walk up for an award as a woman-achiever, get written about buying a car or a home (she bought two adjoining duplex apartments recently for herself and her mom) for her parents, see her walk proudly confidently and unapologetically with her man into a room filled with prying eyes, I smile and silently applaud. Kareena doesnít need to sacrifice her love-life to look after her parents. Until some years ago our actresses had to hide their boyfriends, husbands, pregnancies, drinks and other normal things which were seen to hamper a womanís career.
Babita and Randhir Kapoor sired two daughters, both superstars in their own right. But the other women in the Kapoor khandan have not been that fortunate. They have either retired from the limelight or never had a proper taste of it.
In an industry where men and women work together sometimes from the same home, can women be considered equal to men? I am not too sure. The last female star who commanded a fee equal to her male counterparts was Hema Malini. Hema, God bless her ever-beautiful soul, could not only command a fortune she could also bail out the sagging careers of fallen stars like Manoj Kumar in Sanyasi and Rajesh Khanna in Premnagar.
Yup, there has never been a female actor as big in stature as Hema Malini. To hear her say she misses a man in her life when thereís a domestic or public crisis (as there was when Hemaís bungalow was burgled last week) is proof that underneath the veneer of self-sufficiency a woman no matter how successful in her field needs a manís protective and comforting presence closeby.
After doing a brilliant job of editing her brother Sanjay Bhansaliís films, Bela Sehgal is still waiting to direct her first feature film. Part of the reason for Belaís inability to rise and shine is her domestic duties. She has to look after her two daughtersí meals, studies, clothes, school and friends before Bela can get to work. Farah Khan takes care of her triplets before going to shoot her film every day.
Between Farah and her leading man Akshay Kumar guess whoís the real tees maar khan? The encumbrances of gender politics arenít about the quotient of empowerment offered to a woman. Which women is more empowered than Shabana Azmi in the industry? After nearly four decades sheís still to direct a film. I refuse to believe itís because she is not ready (thatís what she says). Itís more about the industry not being ready to give women equal opportunities to men.
To see Katheryn Bigelow wrestle for the Oscars with her former spouse James Cameron was an experience that gave a fair heart to the art of filmmaking. Bigelowís film has no trace of the feminine. If I didnít know any better Iíd presume it was entirely a manís handiwork. The same is true of Leena Yadavís Hindi film, though they are two different levels and range of creative expression. But at least women like Katheryn, Farah and Leena are not making films about hankering housewives.
To make a gender-free movie is not an easy thing to do for a female director. Aparna Sen is yet to make a Hindi film. She now claims the language is not important.... er, after trying her utmost to get into Bollywood?
Kalpana Lajmi who made a couple of very strong feminist statements would say making a film with a male producer was like getting raped. A bit drastic, that one. But women in pursuit of filmmaking ambitions often end up struggling to have their say. Where is Kalpana today? And where for that matter is Meghna Gulzar? Being the daughter of an artiste as great as Gulzar Saab certainly didnít help her break free of the shackles of her gender. Two films later Meghna is still struggling for a voice.