Last night I was watching a hit flick from the glorious 70s- “Doosra Admi”. It is a story of a young couple in their 20s who have a misunderstanding because the guy gets involved with his middle aged secretary. Rakhee (our very own “Mere Karan Arjun aeyenge” crooning Ma) plays the role of the glamorous secretary. In the movie she is shown to be living alone and independent in her own flat, getting dead drunk, smoking cigarettes nonchalantly and goes out with her boss without any qualms. What hit me the most was, why is the modern liberated women always stereotypically shown to be infected with every vice possible, particularly alcoholism? And this phenomenon is not restricted just to the 70s!
It is a fact that celluloid depicts a modern woman to be doused in alcohol with multiple men, smoking cigarettes at a night party, just to prove her modernity. Choti Bahu (Meena Kumari) in “Sahib, Bibi aur Ghulam”, Nisha (Rakhee) in “Doosra Admi”, Miss Kitty (Helen) in “Gumnaam”, Preeti (Saira Banu) in “Purab Aur Pashchim”, Veronica (Deepika Padokone) in “Cocktail”, Tanu (Kangana Ranaut) in “Tanu weds Manu”, Meghna Mathur (Priyanka Chopra) in “Fashion”. The modernity of the screen female is not justified till she goes bohemian. She has to be partying all night at a club, wearing skimpiest possible clothes, a lot of money and a drink in her hand. She has to be flirty and charming with unknown men around her who are out to take advantage of her “modernity” which, I fail to understand why, is shown to be her weakness. Being bold and forthright is portrayed as being rude, brash and shrewd. An issue with the morals? Nah! She is a modern woman, eh!
Contrary to the screen image, the modern woman is strong, confident and independent who can carry herself around with dignity and is not ready for any kind of compromise. True, she can handle her drink at a party. True, she has the independence to make her own decisions. But why are these decisions always shown giving way to the immoral way of life? Why can’t she be shown enjoying some wine at a party and going back to her home soberly? Why is drinking, which is not actually a big problem, shown to be the biggest problem on the silver screen? I am not justifying alcoholism here. My point is, overdoing the act in the reel world takes away the dignity the modern women actually demand in the real world.
I am yet to see the ladies in any metropolitan city roaming around in the middle of the night with a vodka bottle in hand, clothed in micro mini skirts and unsteady drunk steps. The modern women I see are the one’s working hard and confident about themselves. These women are at top positions in every sphere of life- corporate, administrative, bureaucracy. Indira Nooyi, Kiran Bedi, Chanda Kochchar, Arundhati Roy, Kiran Majumdar Shaw… the list is exhaustive.
It is time the films show the modernity of the lady in the right light. Knowledge, education, experience, thinking, these are what define a woman’s modernity. If Veronica would have been shown partying hard without overindulgence in vodka, she would still be the hottest girl in the whole damn city! Tanu, too, did not need liquor for her funny acts! Meghna could still get over her fight or failure without the whole bottle of red wine down her throat! Act real! This is not how we actually are! Do not typecast the independent modern women!