NEW DELHI: It used to be that men would always play the lead in Bollywood movies, but that’s now changing.
Actresses are now being given more important and challenging roles in a move that film critics say could re-define Indian cinema.
For a long time, the Indian film industry has lagged behind Hollywood in producing movies with a female lead.
But change could be around the corner, with the success of “The Dirty Picture” starring Vidya Balan, which grossed close to US$19 million.
More importantly, Balan’s bold performance was well received along with the four male actors who played supporting roles.
Her portrayals in other movies like “No One Killed Jessica” and, more recently, “Kahani” not only won applause from critics but also from the general public.
Indian film director Abhinay Deo said: “I think it is a very healthy sign that Indian cinema is now moving from male centric stars driving the film, to a slightly more female centric vision of the world. I have always felt that women are much more sensible than men and it is very good to see this kind of acceptance is coming in our cinema, and there is a star like Vidya Balan who has given an excellent performance in “The Dirty Picture”. I think this is coming of age for Indian audiences.”
Other stars like Priyanka Chopra, who bagged several awards for her power packed performance in the movie “7 Khoon Maaf”, form a new league of actresses, are ready to experiment with different roles.
And, as women prove their mettle, directors become more willing to give them meaningful lead roles.
Indian film actress Aditi Rao Hydari, said: “I think Indian cinema is changing. Girls now have really nice parts (roles) in the movie and I hope that it will get better. Though there are few such films, but slowly this is changing.”
Analysts welcome the change, saying it could redefine storytelling in Indian cinema, breaking old stereotypes of actresses as poster girls, to power-packed performers, and is also a reflection of how Indian society is evolving towards greater gender parity.