Saturday, January 7, 2012

Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu: Or the new-found zaniness of Bollywood's heroines

Oh God! Not another "zany" Bollywood heroine!

It was sort of fun when Kareena played the exuberant, irrepressible, rebellious (read: zany) Geet in Jab We Met in 2007. But the success of that film led to an avalanche of bordering-on-mad heroines, almost all of them coupled with long-suffering but essentially sensible heroes.

  • Think Aditi from Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na (2008) who Wikipedia describes as "a highly aggressive, impulsive girl. She abuses. She scratches." In other words, zany. 
  • Think Aaliya (Deepika Padukone) from Break ke Baad (2010). She was loud, unpredictable, smokes, get drunk and is generally impulsive. In other words: zany. 
  • Think Dimple (played by Katrina Kaif) from Mere Brother Ki Dulhan (2011). Again bold, mischievous, impulsive and good at keeping her hero in a permanent state of alarm. What's that word again: yes, zany.
  • And then there was Tanu (Kangana Ranaut) from Tanu Weds Manu (2011) who was practically bordering on psychotic, as far as I am concerned. 

And now, there is Kareena Kapoor in Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu, due to release in February 2012, threatening us with her "zaniness" again if the trailer is anything to go by. 

Apart from extreme loquaciousness and boundless boldness, the heroines' "zaniness" also tends to include smoking and getting dead drunk at some point in the film (give or take a few films). Luckily, our long-suffering hero is always near by to rescue her when she passes out. Rebelliousness doesn't include rescuing yourself, it seems.

Our hero, in contrast, is sensible, responsible and generally good at toeing the line. This, we are supposed to see as repressed. Our heroine's zaninesss, then, is really about releasing the inner Marlboro Man in the hero. So while our hero rescues our heroine from drunken scraps, our heroine rescues him from life itself. (Also for some reason, it is a role Imran Khan is determined to colonise, playing it in four of the five films I mentioned above).

In most parts, I don't mind the zaniness, except in three respects. 

First, why is it that so many rebellious heroines seem to have no careers or jobs. Geet, Aditi, Dimple and finally the horrifying Tanu: none of them showed any interest in gainful employment. They were all just waiting to get married, hoping to bag a guy through their exuberant personality alone. Between Aaliya and Kapoor (in Ek Main...), one wanted to become an actress and the other a hair stylist. Obviously, careers like law, IT, journalism etc are not zany enough.

Second, zaniness and all is fine but I do mind watching smoking as somehow being emblematic of rebelliousness. It is a generally accepted as a harmful and somewhat disgusting habit and is becoming increasingly unfashionable in the West, from where we picked up the notion that it is fashionable in the first place. In fact, I can't remember the last Hollywood Rom-Com, in which the heroine smoked. Do we always have to remain a step behind the West all the time? Can't we just buck the trend for a change. 

Third, after so many films, zaniness is turning into a bore. 

Let's hope, Kareena Kapoor, who started the trend with Jab We Met, will bring it to an end with Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu.

Here's a previous blog, I wrote, about the Bollywood heroines: Dil Chahta Hain: Or Where Have All the Bollywood Feminists Disappeared.


jaimit said...

and dont forget - the only way to get drunk in bollywood these days is Tequila shots. i am sure there is more to getting drunk than three shots and gyrating to disco numbers!

globalbabble said...

Yes, how could I forget!