Women-centric films which the Indian audience had a hard time digesting

New Delhi: One won’t have a difficult time finding out ‘outspoken film buffs’ who demand bold films be made to bring out the disparity between men and women in our society.

You’d rather find such heavily worded comments and suggestions on social media scattered all over, reeking of anger and dripping with sarcasm. But how many of these “film buffs” would actually appreciate cinema and the portrayal of reality without focusing on feeding their voyeuristic minds with any available bit of nudity?

Furthermore, how does a layman react to these bold films, which talk of gender inequality, casteism, and other social evils?

Well, ‘Veere Di Wedding‘ is all set to release on June 1, and the trailer was quite an eye-sore (and an ear-sore) for the ‘sanskari’ Indian. This film is based on four women, a close group of friends, one of whom is about to get married. The actors are seen spiting out a lot of cuss words (surprisingly they have not been beeped, which is why they received flak from netizens). It is the first time for the four leading ladies, Kareena Kapoor, Soman Kapoor, Swara Bhaskar and Shikha Talsania to come together for a movie. We sure have seen them perform their best in various other films, but this trailer promises some definite fun and game.

Before a film hits theatres in India, it has to successfully pass the exams set by the CBFC! Even if it manages to pass the test, the board will make sure to sieve the content of the film and then present a ‘cleaner’ version for the audience to watch, lest it poisons their minds turning them into rebels.

What are feminist films?

Like all discussions on feminism, the concept here is not to outcast men, or try to gain more importance by being a woman. Feminist films, basically, portray the story keeping in view that the audience majorly consists of females. Yes, it’s rare. Very rare. It would be difficult to give a perfect example, but the 2011 Hollywood film ‘The Help’ can be a near perfect example of a feminist film.

Films have been made for the men in our society, i.e. keeping in mind the desires, views, and beliefs which men have had over the years. This is one major reason why you get to see the titillating portrayal of women more than men — because the male gaze had been preferred and fed for all these years.

One might point out how men as well have gotten famous showing off their shirtless bodies, but seriously, you do the math of skimpily dressed women versus skimpily dressed men in films. Then again, it is a tedious task and might take generations to bring about a change in the gaze.

Considering all the above, in the past few decades, there have been some films which spoke of important issues and went beyond portraying women as mere eye-candies. Even if we take out the concept of making films for women audience, let us scan through some of the mass approved ‘women-centric films’ (which have a female solo lead, or women leading the cast of the film) which managed to release across Indian theatres. (We have left aside the non-commercial, non-mainstream cinema)

What’s the point of all this, you ask? The idea of judging a film before its release is the new normal now with trolls ruling the Internet. We won’t know how ‘Veere Di Wedding’ is until its release on Friday; till then here’s a list of some bold films that did not go down well in history and recent past. The reason being the audience’s myopic worldview cultivated over decades.

Damini: The story is about how a woman fights against society for justice. The 1993 film is considered to be one of the best woman-centric films ever made in Bollywood. Meenakshi Sheshadri played the titular character along with prominent actors like Sunny Deol, Rishi Kapoor, Amrish Puri, Paresh Rawal and Tinu Anand.

Dor: The story is based on the foundation of friendship between two women coming from absolutely different social backgrounds. Directed by Nagesh Kukunoor, the story takes forward the beauty of friendship and the union of womanhood, sans the evils of jealousy, hurt and religion. Even though received good reviews, very few took the effort of going to the theatres to watch it.

Lipstick Under My Burkha: All that the film tried to showcase was how women of all ages can have an equal share of desire for money, sex, power, and freedom. But the film received enough criticism from the regular filmgoer who assumed that the director was justifying the activities of the women characters in the film.

Parched: The story is based on four women in a village talking about men, sex and life as they struggle with their individual demons and fight off prejudices.

Turning 30: The story is about a woman in her late 20s fighting hard to survive in the harsh world of advertising, where ideas get stolen and credited to undeserving people. The movie also tells the stories of her two best friends who support her, even though they are going through some rough patches in their lives.

Angry Indian Goddesses: Described as “India’s first buddy female pic”, the film showcases numerous issues in India such as gender inequality, objectification of women, LGBT rights, big business vs. tribal rights, rape problem, caste differences, skin-colour prejudice and definitely unmindful justice.

The Elements trilogy (Fire, Earth, Water): Deepa Mehta’s films dealt with controversial issues of social reform. Fire dealt with issues of arranged marriage and homosexuality in the patriarchal culture of India. Earth dealt with the religious strife associated with the partition of India in the mid-20th century. Water, being the most critically successful of the three, dealt with suicide, misogyny, and the mistreatment of widows in rural India.