WOMEN IN LOVE
Madhur Bhandarkar, a film maker known for making women-centric films but have you ever thought about the representation of women in his films? Well there can be a number of angles to look at his films, but for now i want to tell you about representation of women in love in his films.
As far as love is concerned, women in Bhandarkar films definitely seem to fall in love and fall is the operative word: they hit the ground with a resounding thud.
Bhandarkar’s women are in politics, the corporate world, the fashion industry and amongst the Page 3 elite. They are ambitious. But they choose the wrong men. They fall in love with men they admire, men who have mentored them. It seems as if these women’s love relationships reflect as genuine an attachment to the men they love as to success, power or money. Thus, when they fall, they fall (here meaning hurt themselves) simultaneously in love and in their professional lives.
In the film Fashion, when Abhijit Sarin (played by Arbaaz Khan) terminates Shonali’s (Kangana Ranaut) contract and ropes in Meghna as Panache’s new face, Meghna then falls in love with him and leaves her struggling boyfriend.
Another recurring pattern in Bhandarkar’s films is that women cannot keep their professional and personal lives separate. Once in love, they commit stupid mistakes.
Madhavi in Page 3, who is shown as a sensible journalist, starts writing about her model boyfriend in her paper because of their relationship. Meghna, an ambitious, smart woman fails to understand the motive behind Mr. Sarin’s lust for her and gets drawn towards him emotionally. She knows that Mr. Sarine is married and has two children yet she is falls in love with him. In the film Corporate, Nishigandha takes the blame of the soft drink scam on behalf of the company only because her soul mate Ritesh convinces her to do so. A woman who is seemingly smart and intelligent in the initial half of the movie sacrifices both her personal and professional lives only because of her love for Ritesh?
Women in Bhandarkar’s films have been shown as being emotional fools who repeat their mistakes in love. It can be inferred that women are driven by feelings while men by benefits.
In the film Corporate, Nishigandha played by Bipasha Basu is a part of the corporate ‘system’ – manipulative, smart and diplomatic. However, her loyalty exposes her vulnerability and gets the better of her. She ultimately is stuck in a long drawn out legal battle to prove her innocence as she is asked to take responsibility for a major scam by her employers.
Besides love, sexuality is also fore-grounded in these films. Bhandarkar’s women-centric films often portray women as sexually vulnerable. The male gaze is a constant threat to the women in the society. In their professional endeavours they are constantly curbed or come up against the challenge of being anything more than either ‘eye candy’ or mere sexual gratification for the men who rule these professional spaces.
For instance, in the film Fashion, Gayatri (played by Tara Sharma), an aspiring actress is asked for sexual favours by the Director in exchange for a role in one of his films.
Bhandarkar’s films reinforce that for women, ethics and love are impediments to success in the real world. This can reinforce stereotypical roles & patriarchal images for womanhood as the weaker sex and imply a final discouraging, mythical and misleading moral lesson that a woman always pays a price for her ambitions.
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