26 September, 2020

Devi To Daasi

Feminine? Yes. But today's bold heroine doesn't fight in tandem.

Devi To Daasi
Mother India (1957) and Gadar: Ek Prem Katha (2001), both of them larger-than-life nationalistic sagas but with a gap of more than four decades between them, are two of the biggest commercial successes in Hindi cinema. Mehboob Khan's rural epic is the story of Radha and her lonely struggle to farm her land, bring up her children and lead the village to better days. Anil Sharma's jingoistic drama is the story of Sakina, rescued during the Partition riots by a man she later marries. In the first film, Radha is depicted as brave and independent. On the other hand, Sakina is depicted as passive and docile. When her father doesn't let her go back to her husband, she replies, "Main intezaar karoongi. Woh zaroor aayenge." Eventually, her husband appears, crossing the border to bring back his wife.

Most women characters in mainstream Hindi cinema can be located somewhere between these two extremes. Closer to the Radha mould is Bimal Roy's Paro in Do Bigha Zameen (1953) who, pregnant and malnourished, collects water...


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