Udaipur- In a notable shift from traditional cinematic roles where women often served as mere complements to the hero or were confined to dance sequences, contemporary cinema, particularly recent OTT releases, is marking a transformative era. The spotlight is now firmly on women characters who take center stage, carrying the narrative on their shoulders. From bikers to bike mechanics, social media influencers to football commentators, these women are breaking free from stereotypical portrayals and embracing offbeat professions that were previously considered beyond their domain. These characters not only challenge societal norms but also reveal the strength and resilience of women, diverging from the stereotypical "show dolls" roles that prevailed until at least the last decade. This evolving representation underscores a positive stride towards more nuanced and empowering portrayals of women in the world of cinema.
"Dhak Dhak," a gripping Hindi road adventure drama directed by Tarun Dudeja, takes audiences on a journey with four diverse women on a road trip from Delhi to Ladakh. Led by social media vlogger Sky (Fatima Sana Shaikh), the quartet, which includes Mahi (Ratna Pathak Shah), a senior Sikh grandmother; Uzma (Dia Mirza), a middle-aged Muslim garage owner; and Manjari (Sanjana Sanghi), a young bride-to-be, challenges societal norms as they ride towards the highest motorable pass in the world, Khardung La. The film beautifully captures the essence of freedom and self-discovery as these women ride beyond the limits of their lives.
Switching gears to Tamil cinema, "Annapoorani: The Goddess of Food" directed by Nilesh Krishnaa, tells the story of Nayanthara as Annapoorani, an aspiring chef with dreams of pursuing a degree in hotel management. The narrative unfolds against the backdrop of her family's dedication to serving at the famous Srirangam temple, where vegetarianism is a way of life. Breaking free from traditional expectations, Annapoorani embarks on a culinary journey, navigating obstacles and proving her prowess as a chef. This film not only challenges stereotypes about women's choices in education and career paths but also presents a powerful exploration of passion and determination.
In the Malayalam-language film "Sesham Mike-il Fathima," directed by Manu C. Kumar, Kalyani Priyadarshan takes center stage as Fathima Noorjahan, a young Muslim woman from Malappuram aspiring to become a football commentator. The film narrates Fathima's journey as she challenges gender norms and societal expectations to pursue her love for football commentary. The storyline not only breaks barriers in sports commentary but also addresses cultural stereotypes, showcasing the power of perseverance.
These films collectively serve as a visual and narrative treat, weaving tales of women as social media influencers, bikers, corporate chefs, and football commentators. Each protagonist becomes a symbol not only for themselves but for an entire gender, challenging preconceived notions and advocating for a more inclusive perspective on women's roles and capabilities. As these cinematic stories gain traction, they contribute to meaningful conversations about the empowerment of women in unconventional professions, urging audiences to reconsider societal norms and embrace diversity in representation.
The Mooknayak had a conversation with Ritu Roongta, a homemaker residing in Kolkata, who expressed her enthusiasm for the recent film releases that she sees as a source of inspiration for today's independent women. Ritu believes that contemporary women have a plethora of career options and the courage to pursue their passions. These films, according to her, serve as a reflection of the changing dynamics and aspirations of women in society. "My elder daughter chose a different career option; she aspired to become a writer, and she excelled at it. She already has a few books to her credit," Ritu says, noting that movies often reflect what is happening somewhere in society.
Anamika Gupta, a chef based in Jodhpur, also shared her insights on the impact of movies, particularly those from the southern cinema, in portraying strong and empowered women. Anamika, an admirer of Nayanthara, expressed her admiration for the way Nayanthara portrayed the role of a chef in the film. She believes that cooking comes naturally to women, but the film "Annapurni" beautifully sheds light on the discrepancy between the ease with which women manage household chores and the challenges they face in establishing themselves as professionals in the culinary world.
Anamika emphasized the societal perception that cooking is often regarded as a natural skill for women but is not necessarily acknowledged as a viable profession, particularly in comparison to the prevalent notion that cooking is a male-dominated field. The film, "Annapurni," resonated with Anamika as it artfully addresses this disparity and showcases the journey of a woman striving to excel in a culinary career.
The Mooknayak also spoke with Renji, a Malayalam film producer, who passionately highlighted the impressive array of women-centric movies in Mollywood. Renji pointed out noteworthy films such as "Udaharanam Sujata," "How Old Are You," "22 Female Kottayam," and numerous others, emphasizing the powerful narratives these movies bring to the forefront. According to Renji, these stories resonate strongly, supported by a brilliant ensemble of actresses who effortlessly shoulder and justify roles that portray the fairer sex in a formidable and empowering light.