We Indians are passionate movie lovers. Our lives, memories and even thoughts find relevance with some movie we liked or disliked. We laugh, cry, dream and achieve vicariously through its characters. We celebrate our success in any sport as much onscreen as off it. Movies bind us together a nation. However, has the influence that they command over us been used constructively to affect a difference? Movies have been sprinkled with nasty gender stereotypes and dished out to us for years. An honest jobless hero, a meek heroine, a vamp who wears short dresses and smokes or a mother who is either Lalita Pawar or Nirupa Roy, no in-between, are just few of them! For #CauseAChatter and #GenderTalks today I’m discussing how some movies have dared to break away and succeeded.
Little wonder that we’ve often turned to Hollywood and world cinema at large for realistic stories and portrayals. Of course, this doesn’t entail that they don’t resort to any gender stereotypes. The appeal and emotional connect of their content cuts across boundaries and am glad to see our moviemakers slowly catching up with it. I’ve curated a list of progressive movies whose lead characters have broken barriers and what more, excelled at it. Lets take a look at them, shall we?
Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
Harry Potter series has a lesson for everyone and any list with kickass female leads needs to have Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) at the helm. This adorable know-it-all girl is the friend we love to hate but can’t live without. She’s Harry and Ron’s perennial problem-solver and everything they aren’t; smart, funny, a little smug and with a heart full of love. The guys, for their own benefit, are clever enough to acknowledge it too. Don’t listen to her, she’ll simply say “What an idiot!” and let go.
The Intern (2015)
This Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway movie is as pleasant as a spring morning. Jules is the young founder and CEO of a fashion startup and retired widower Ben joins her company as an intern as part of a senior citizen outreach program. Ben tries to adjust with the changed work culture while guiding Jules in a personal and professional capacity. This unlikely lead pair has an enviable platonic relationship that breaks gender stereotypes in a novel way.
Ki & Ka (2016)
Kia (Kareena Kapoor) and Kabir (Arjun Kapoor) have an unusual modern marriage where a career-driven Kia is the breadwinner while Kabir is happy to be a stay-at-home-husband. Interestingly, what Kia strives to achieve and competes for, Kabir gets with much less effort and lesser intent. This movie explores myriad emotions in a marriage like love, insecurity, jealousy and dominance. Hope that it sets a precedent for our moviemakers to write and present such new topics.
The Incredibles 2 (2018)
The Incredibles, Parr family of superheroes, return with this new instalment to fight an enemy striving to turn the world against all superheroes. Elastigirl is selected for a mission by a rich brother-sister duo to conduct secret missions to restore public faith in them. Meanwhile, Bob assumes the role of a stay-at-home-dad and initially struggles a fair bit through it. An animated movie with a message that breaks gender stereotypes is the perfect way to inspire a generation, isn’t it?
Panga is the story of Jaya Nigam (Kangana Ranaut), Prashant Sachdeva ( Jassi Gill) and their son, Adi. Jaya is a former Kabaddi champion but hangs up her boots after Adi’s birth. She has a settled life but misses her game dearly. On Adi’s insistence she starts working on her physical fitness, gets trained by her friend, makes a comeback and goes on to win the Kabaddi cup for Team India. Prashant is the wing beneath Jaya’s wings and a hands on Dad in her absence. This adorable lead pair gives serious couple goals.
Of course, this is an inclusive list and your suggestions are most welcome. It is often said that behind every successful man there’s a woman. Why then is the role of a man in a woman’s success not conceded just as much? One needn’t be a partner to support or motivate, as is apparent from these movies. Truth is stranger than fiction and at times inspiring too. Gender stereotypes can be subtle but have long-lasting effects on our minds. Let us all make one small but definite change at a time to bring about a big change.
Are you with me? What are you changing today?