Being a ‘modern woman’ in bollywood

I saw Queen (Hindi) last week. It reminded me of English Vinglish(Hindi). I have enjoyed both the movies. They are fun. Both are not just woman-centric films, but also empowering them (please… I am not a feminist!).

Queen: It is a story of a girl next door from a typical middle class family in Delhi. Her fiance, after wooing her to get married, calls off the wedding just a day before it, leaving her heartbroken. Reason? He no more finds her modern. But she decides to go to her honeymoon… alone. To Paris and Amsterdam. For a change, she is just fine with herself – her English accent, her looks, her dressing sense (non-westernized, thus not modern) , her culture, or her stupid jokes. Initially baffled in a foreign country, she eventually learns to face the situations, loosens up a bit, explores new things and re-invents herself with help of friends she meets during the journey. It’s a fun-filled journey where she returns home confident and happy (and breaks off the engagement of course :P ).

English Vinglish: It’s a story of a typical housewife who lovingly takes care of her family and runs a small business of preparing sweets at home (based on orders); only to be ridiculed by her husband and daughter for her discomfort with English language and her passion to cook (what’s great about it?). When she happens to go to New York for a month or so to attend her niece’s wedding, always conscious of  the fact that she cannot speak English (and after getting humiliated in a cafe for not being able to order properly), she decides to enroll herself for ‘Learn English in 30(not sure?) days’ class. Secretly. She eventually gains her confidence and respect back. Not just by managing a stint of roaming in a foreign country on her own and speaking English. But by showing off that anyone can learn to speak in English, which in a way makes her family realize whether or not she speaks it, she doesn’t change as a person and one should not be judgmental about own family members. It’s again a light-hearted movie with a happy ending.

I don’t care if stories are realistic or not. But characters are. Than the stereotypes in a movie Cocktail,  in which a hero finally ditches his ‘modern’ girlfriend (independent, wears shorts, smokes and also drinks) for a conservative one (emotionally dependent, a bit shy, wearing salwar kameez, opens up slowly, doesn’t smoke or drink and thus can be taken to mom).

But what’s going on with the english abilities, western dresses and being a modern woman?

Both of the films try to say – It doesn’t matter. At a core you still remain the same person. With same abilities. Whether you wear or do not wear a jeans or a dress. It has to be a personal choice. Don’t we look good in the dresses we are more comfortable wearing? Also whether you don’t speak english or speak (vernacular?) english or (try to?) speak in British/American accent. So as to say english language is very British. At least that’s where it originated. And so every other country that has its own set of spoken languages would have a different accent (and difficulty to understand each other’s accent is mutual). Big deal!

Being a modern(?) woman, is less about an english accent or a dressing style, and more about ability of having own voice and making it count. Isn’t it?

PS: Otherwise why would a super-rich, english-speaking, elegantly dressed ‘Blue Jasmine’ would almost loose herself at the end?


2 thoughts on “Being a ‘modern woman’ in bollywood”

  1. I have watched English-Vinglish many times. In a bit of odd circumstance – I was in Amsterdam (like the heroine of Queen) at the time when English Vinglish was playing in a suburban Amsterdam theater. I rode a train for about a half hour to the location of the cineplex. I even bought a ticket.

    But before the show started – a thought came into my head – would there be English subtitles for the Hindi language spoken, or would the subtitles be in Dutch?

    So I asked. Dutch subtitles only said the movie house staff. I asked for a refund and got it. Fortunately I was able to buy a DVD at a later date. I have Queen on my ‘to see list’ – but will have to wait for the DVD.

    Thanks for the fine post, and the thought about having your own voice, and making it count.

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