Indian cinema has a thing for not representing women correctly on screen. Either women characters are boxed in binaries of good and bad, or simply not written in a way that gives them ample screen time thereby reducing them to props that make the hero look good.
Speaking about the latter category, there are a plethora of movies one can state as examples. We took a look at Indian movies from the last decade and noticed that despite changing times, this trend of using female characters as props is still prevalent. Here are some examples.
1. Sona in Shamshera (2022)
Played by Vaani Kapoor, Sona is Balli’s wife. That is literally the only identity Sona has in the movie. She breaks into dance numbers, cheers for the hero, or simply screams when the hero is hurt. Twitter users have noted how, even, the crows in the movie played a bigger part than Sona.
2. Diya in Radhe (2021)
Played by Disha Patani, Diya’s introduction scene is highly sexualised. Diya is shown as a gullible woman who falls for Radhe’s tricks and antics. She conveniently forgot the fact that Radhe lied to her about being a struggling model and simply professes her love for him when she finds out he is a police officer. Like, make it make sense! Diya only shows up in the movie to call Radhe “sweet” or just dance to a song.
3. Sita in RRR (2022)
Played by Alia Bhatt, Sita’s character in RRR was predominantly like a guest appearance. But when you consider the fact that she was Raju’s fiance, the screen time she received feels merely like lip service. While the actor is grateful for her small South debut, many viewers have called the role a “prop”.
4. Avantika in Baahubali (2015)
Played by Tamannaah, Avantika is a skilled warrior. But the scenes in the movie state otherwise. Avantika’s role is undermined every time the camera objectifies her. She is harassed by the hero but later she falls in love with him. Funnily, Avantika only has a few lines in the sequel of the movie.
5. Suraiyya in Thugs Of Hindostan (2018)
Played by Katrina Kaif, Suraiyya is a dancer and performer. The makers of the film took her occupation very seriously and that was all she did in the movie. In contrast, Zafira’s character is well drawn out. Suraiyya exudes the same energy Katrina has portrayed in all her dance songs.
6. Aasiya in Raees (2017)
Played by Mahira Khan, Aasiya was merely used as a decorative accessory for Raees. The only time Aasiya received ample screen space was when she danced in Zaalima. Apart from dancing with the hero, she was reduced to a handful of emotional scenes that can be counted on just one hand.
7. Shagun in Simmba (2018)
Played by Sara Ali Khan, the movie would have still worked without Shagun. No denying the fact that Simmba and Shagun shared good chemistry, but her character felt like it was written at the last minute. Barring a few romantic scenes with Simmba, Shagun’s screen time is very limited.
8. Dimpy in Heropanti (2014)
Played by Kriti Sanon in her debut Bollywood role, Dimpy’s role was nothing more than a prop. The name of the movie, itself, is a dead giveaway. The movie was only about Suraj and his gravity-defying kicks. Dimpy was just an accessory – her presence only made the hero look good.
9. Naina in War (2019)
Played by Vaani Kapoor, the trailer of the movie saw the heroes and even the cars getting more screen time than Naina. The two heroes dominate the scene with their action scenes and dialogues. Probably the only time we saw Naina at a stretch in the movie was in the song – Ghungroo.
10. Rasika in Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015)
Played by Kareena Kapoor Khan, Rasika is one of the female leads in the movie. But sadly her screen time is utterly limited. While we do agree that the movie focused more on Pawan and Munni’s relationship, the scenes which did feature Rasika showed her getting overshadowed by Pawan. There was hardly a scene featuring only her.
11. Preeti in Kabir Singh (2019)
Played by Kiara Advani, Preeti hardly has any significant dialogue till the interval in this movie. Most of the time, Preeti is mistreated by Kabir under the garb of love and passion. The only job Preeti has in the movie is to keep mum thereby keeping Kabir on a pedestal.
For every movie like Gangubai Kathiawadi where women characters are in the limelight and male heroes are on the sidelines, we will have a Shamshera where women are just used as props. This list can be pretty much endless. Funnily, we have not even covered a fraction.
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