Recently I came across this hilarious article by TotalFilm wherein they listed a few characters from the movies that could hand over the Oscar statuette to the winners. A well-compiled list, I began to wonder about our own Hindi films and our Hindi film characters that could give out awards. I had a conversation with a few of my friends about well-written or memorable characters in Hindi films. And we came up with quite a few who we thought could give away awards.
Mogambo (Amrish Puri’s cult villain from Mr. India)
Lucky (Tushar Kapoor’s mute character from the Golmaal series)
Rahul Mehra (Shah Rukh k-k-k-k-Khan’s stuttering persona from Darr)
Munnabhai and Circuit (Sanjay Dutt and his sidekick Arshad Warsi in the Munnabhai series)
Jadoo (Yes, that alien from Koi… Mil Gaya)
Gabbar Singh (The menacing Amjad Khan from Sholay. “Kitne Filmfare The?”)
Ravi Verma (Shashi Kapoor in Deewaar. “Mere Paas Filmfare Hain.”)
Guddu/Charlie (Shahid Kapoor’s lisping and stammering claim to fame in Kaminey)
We then realised that this list was heavily populated by male characters (with the possible exception of Jadoo, whose gender was left undetermined by the Roshans). So we started thinking hard of strong and worthy female characters that could give away our imagined awards.
Sweety Bhope (Marathi girl Priyanka Chopra in Kaminey)
Meera Gaity (Overdramatic and over-swearing journalist Rani Mukherjee in No One Killed Jessica. Would love to see her give some choice gaalis when the Best Supporting Actress award goes to someone else!)
Basanti (Hema Malini from Sholay)
Makdee the Witch (A wonderful spidery Shabana Azmi in Makdee)
The Indian Women’s Hockey Team (Chak De India)
Well, okay, the last one was added because we were falling short of female characters; rather female characters that are quirky and not stereotypical.
The Indian film industry has always been patriarchal in nature. Most of the traditional film scripts have always had the actor as the protagonist in the film with the female either supporting the actor or having a miniscule role in the film. Or sometimes just as an item song dancer (read: object of the Male Gaze) a la Munni and Sheila.
Yes, we have had female centric films: Ardh Satya, Arth, Masoom, and more recently Chandni Bar and Fashion, but they are few and far between. Why so? Why are female characters not sought after in our film industry?
Because they are not a draw at the box-office? Perhaps. All of the above mentioned films, dealing with serious issues, with strong female characters have been critical successes, though not necessarily big box office hits.
But then, it is not necessary that only films which are serious should have intricately developed female characters. The recent film Band Baaja Baraat has shown how a female character can be the driving force in a nice feel-good film too. But our audience is perhaps not yet ready to savour films with females in the forefront.
That does not mean that we stop making films with females in the lead or with a better developed character arc. Madhur Bhandarkar, with his films Chandni Bar, Page 3, Fashion and Corporate showed that films with a female lead can work. Chak De India had, among others, a women’s hockey team as one of its subjects. The film, perhaps, no matter how brilliant it is, would not have been a success if not for Shah Rukh Khan’s presence in it. But that did not stop Shimit Amin from making the film.
Vishal Bhardwaj has always featured strong female characters in his films. Be it his debut Makdee, or the Shakespearean adaptations Maqbool and Omkara (Shakespeare is renowned for strong female characters; a gift that Bhardwaj received while adapting his plays), or even Priyanka Chopra’s character Sweety in Kaminey. Kaminey was a film where the male was the lead, but that didn’t stop Bhardwaj from sketching out Sweety’s character to someone so fierce, yet lovable.
Recently there have been a spate of films which have well-drawn out female characters. Vidya Balan’s Krishna in Ishqiya was the center-hold of the film. Peepli [Live] revolved around two male characters but had fascinating female characters, be it the wife Dhaniya played by Shalini Vatsa or the Barkha Dutt-based reporter Nandita played by Malaika Shenoy. No One Killed Jessica had two women: Vidya Balan and Rani Mukherjee in its lead. Dhobi Ghat, too, had two well-sketched female characters in Shai (played by debutant Monica Dogra) and Yasmin (played by Kriti Malhotra).
All in all, things are looking up for the womankind of our society. Bhardwaj’s Saat Khoon Maaf releases later this month with Priyanka Chopra in the lead once again alongside seven husbands. (Wow!) We hope to add her to our list of Hindi film award presenters. Don’t you?
Written by Runcil Rebello.
“Six billion people in the world, six billion souls, and sometimes, all you need is one” - One Tree Hill
It’s been just an hour since I watched the movie and I can vouch that the movie delivers a lot more than the eye can perceive.
It‘s not every day that you watch an Indian thriller with the woman protagonist on a husband killing spree. A director who’s famous for painting grey shades into the conventional heroine: who better than Vishal Bhardwaj to make it? After Kaminey and Ishqiya (he was producer on it), Audience! Gear up for Saat Khoon Maaf! No, I’m not going to reveal the plot, but my inputs will cease all criticism and make you spend your average 200 bucks on a Hindi Phillum. The screenplay has been executed brilliantly. Watch it for its delicious theme, laugh-a-riot clever dialogues, bold in-your-face scenes, and yes, the dark thriller feel which only a James Hadley Chase Novel can provide.
Warning! Do not contrast it with your regular Hollywood thriller.
Bhardwaj seems to have measured and designed his characters around the movie and the sets. All the sequences have been described in a different way, complete with a new avatar for Priyanka Chopra as Susanna. Unlike her #What’sYourRashee days, Bhardwaj has actually made her act. I can effortlessly label this as one of her best performances, so much so that she is close to being stereotyped with regards to her role in Kaminey. (Spot the coincidence!)
One thing is certain; John Abraham still struggles to act. Give him a good script, a great director – the man just refuses to emote. But the rest blend perfectly into their characters.
A note of mention for Annu Kapoor for his proverbial skills in acting; another winner was Aleksandr Dyachenkop, the Russian actor who looked quite the blown-up version of Amitabh Bachchan, who played one of the seven husbands of Piggy Chops!
The film is engaging, keeps you on the edge of the seat apart from your scheduled/unscheduled breaks. A lot of rumours doing the rounds about how the end of the movie could be a little more tasteful, for them just one word – Not every movie needs a link to a sequel. And it promises NOT to be a run of the mill Bollywood potboiler intermixed with sound and dance sequences, but seizes your attention for the entire span of 7KM.
What’s Hot? Priyanka Chopra’s ACTING
What’s not? John Abraham’s ROCKSTAR look
For a different opinion on the movie, keep reading Rhythm Movies and Jhatkas…
Written by Shubhra Rishi.