When vamps turned heroines & heroines turned vamps

I was chatting up with an advertising colleague-turned-film producer about the recent success of The Dirty Picture. We were cruising through time and the women stereotypes we so well articulated 10 years ago. They helped clearly distinguish the Lakme skincare woman from the Ponds skincare woman & so on. We used women from Indian mythology freely as we did the characters depicted in Indian cinema. And well the changes as we chatted up today were palpable.

The trend really started more than 15 years ago. And one of my earlier posts did observe how the concept associated with classical beauties/heroines of yester years was often dismissed as conservative in todays age. Has The Dirty Picture changed anything? DKCS (‘Don’t know Can’t say’, as research feedback would exclaim). But it’s amusing how the ‘thinking actress’ is now a living breathing thing after the ‘thinking director’ & ‘thinking actor’. Normally associated with smaller budgets & low commercial success these films were far and few. The ‘thinking actress’ as it emerges doesn’t operate under the classic definition of stars i.e. sexy in a bikini sense, cleavage showing, western in garb, stylish in an affluent sense etc. But is stuffed with talent. It is the ’she is dark but very talented syndrome’ (saavli hai par susheel hai)??!! But some things have changed I think.

The Dirty Picture, as least temporarily, seems to have created a new cluster altogether. It raked in the moolah, was an ‘OK’ story with some really good acting & was led out & out by an actress. A traditionally beautiful & very Indian in ethos, Vidya Balan. She also bought tons of men & women out of the closet. Literally. With little left to imagination she oozed sex & sexuality which was clothed in the ‘character’ she was playing. It was the story of an ‘item girl/actress/vamp’ all rolled in one played by a thinking (traditional looking/dressing) actress & she was above fault. Wow! Can I start to believe that we have possibly come of age. Somewhat atleast?!!

If we have progressed from Helen/Bindu to Zeenat Aman/Parveen Babi to Madhuri Dixit to Priyanka/Kareena & now Vidya, we have come a long way. The day heroines started doing item numbers successfully was the day high slit skirts & a new definition for heroines started getting created. With liberal values driving us forward, the heroines came to be defined in style, attitude & apparel by the clothes often only worn by yester year vamps. And now with Vidya Balan, a traditional Indian (epitome of simplicity) crossing over, we have come a full circle. While this may still seem petty & a superficial detail to gloss over, I am glad that a consistently small budget/thinking director’s actress has been labeled 2011’s Indian film industry hero. Gutsy & worthy of applaud.

So maybe, just maybe the audience has really grown up & in time will continue to be enriched by cinema in it deepest & most vivid colors. And not just the yellow of the mustard fields, that has colored our view of life for so many years.

Ooh La la ooh La la, Tu hai meri Fantasy

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