Not very long ago, women in Bollywood films were ONLY cast as props, or ablaa waiting for the hero to rescue them. It’s still not all hunky-dory, but there’s some progress that we’ve made. Films like Good Luck Jerry are not only female-driven, but also examples of women getting just as much space to experiment with characters. A woman who lives with her sister and mother, starts dealing in drugs to get her mother a cancer treatment is a newer plot. Because, we’ve seen suffering mothers, but it’s usually a man trying to ‘do the work’ for her.
Women in black comedies or crime thrillers have so far been portrayed as scared and sad – majorly on the sidelines. Because, plotting, fighting or even the need for vengeance are not associated with women. Janhvi Kapoor’s character Jerry, is not a criminal mastermind, but that doesn’t mean that she has to wait for a man to save her. She picks up weapons when needed, plans a perfect getaway and even uses people (when it’s the only resort).
And it’s not like the film shows us a utopian world without prejudices. The character is considered naïve and subservient by the world, while she’s also subjected to the male gaze. But, she uses their prejudices against them. Such plots are making it possible to change the course of how female characters are perceived. They’re getting to do things that men do in films, or basically things that they’re capable of doing.
Mai is another recent example, where Sakshi Tanwar’s character was not just a nurturing force, but also someone who fights back, when needed. She was treated like any mother, in our society, which made it all the more honest to look at. Even Purva in Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein did a lot to turn around the power dynamics, from what we’re used to.
Then there are films like Jalsa, where mothers and women are also protectors, who know what their children need. Even if it require to against the world. They’re everything but helpless, and that’s what has changed. We’re opening up to plots where women are treated as humans who emote in ways that were not recognized earlier.
It’s difficult to empathise with characters or relate with them when they do not have enough to do. And that’s been a pattern with actresses in films and shows, where they’re hardly given a character-arc. With newer content like A Thursday or Aarya, it’s normal to see women who take a stand, and take up arms. Because, that’s just how it is – normal.
Watching characters like Jerry or even her family literally fight for survival, in their own ways was something refreshing. It is, on the other hand, also proof that women are just as much capable of pulling-off a ‘hero move’. A Jaya Kumari (Jerry) from a small-town can easily kick ass if you force her to – oh, and she wouldn’t need an arm candy. Basically, anything that a man does on-screen, a woman can, which shouldn’t be news.
Female leads in thrillers, crime dramas or dark comedies is what we need, and not item numbers objectifying women in every possible way. Because, an honest representation where women are not just sad-docile-objects who wait around for the guy to turn up, is a requirement.