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Posted at: Jun 10, 2018, 12:04 AM; last updated: Jun 10, 2018, 12:04 AM (IST)

The powerpuff girls

The success of Veere Di Wedding has triggered the debate whether women actors can hold the fort

Nonika Singh

CHICK flicks; Sonam Kapoor finds the term derogatory and refuses to dub her latest outing Veere Di Wedding so. Ekta Kapoor, one of the producers of the film, comes with another term ‘gender agnostic’ to define the movie. Call it by whatever name…or dismiss these on whichever pretext, faux feminism, profane or outright obscene, films on female buddyhood have come home.

To roost or not, we can’t say at this point. Veere Di Wedding sure has hit the bull’s eye and raked in more than Rs 10 crore on the opening day itself. But not all films that hail the bond of sisterhood have set the cash registers ringing at the boxoffice. In an industry, where womencentric films are more an aberration than a norm, sisterhood is a subject that is yet to find unanimous nod of approval or appreciation.

Not too long ago artist-filmmaker Pan Nalin called his Bollywood debut Angry Indian Goddesses the first female buddy film. Despite positive reviews, it failed to strike a chord with the viewers. Ditto was the fate of Parched which, too, nosedived at the boxoffice. Depicting three friends bonding in a rural setting, Parched moved into the erogenous zone of sex and sexuality. Sex, otherwise a discomfiting subject for Indians, somehow drives these films. Not surprising many see red. Lipstick Under My Burkha had our erstwhile sanskari CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani up in arms. He was so worked up by the ‘lady-oriented’ film that he refused to certify it. But as they say any publicity is good. Alankrita Shrivastava’s directorial venture became a sleeper hit. 

Interestingly while films high on bromance, as one viewer put it, are tastefully made, somehow films riding on female bonding thrive on shock value. Is this a marketing strategy? In the absence of big ticket heroes, films with women in the driving seat up the erotica quotient. 

Vishwas Kini, the endearing Bhandari of Veere Di Wedding, objects to the very word bold. He asserts, “Cinema reflects reality. If you walk into any lounge, you will feel as if the girls have walked out of this very film. Rhea has only given a voice to the millennial girls who were finding no representation in our films.” 

Actor Aahana Kumra, who played sexy Leela in Lipstick Under My Burkha fails to understand  what the fuss is about. She says, “It’s time we owned up sex, especially from the point of view of women.” She lauds the success of Veere Di Wedding as a new cusp, a signal that will usher in more films of a similar genre, thus ensuring more work for actresses. Indeed, her film too made money. Made at a cost of Rs 4 crore, Lipstick Under My Burkha went on to collect Rs 20 crore. But the success of Veere Di Wedding, she decodes with greater satisfaction and optimism, “Here is a bunch of girls: one Swara Bhaskar, considered an actress of Indie films, then Sonam Kapoor, a fashion diva, and there is Kareena Kapoor, who is a mother. Together they are defying not just stereotypes but also creating a new business model with actresses on the forefront.” 

Sure Veere Di Wedding has both critics and viewers divided, like any other film, it too has evoked a mixed response.

Sanjay Chauhan, writer of Paan Singh Tomar, feels, “The film might not have much depth but the fact that such  characters, who would have been vamps in films some 20 years back, are part of a mainstream film with A-list heroines, producers and production values is quite refreshing. Indeed, it is a significant marker in the history of Bollywood.”

As Aahana says, “Everyone has a right to an opinion and films such as these do trigger and initiate new conversations and debates.” Besides she adds, “Not every film on women has to be a naari shakti morcha.” Nor everything has to be viewed through the prism of feminism and women’s liberation. If men can be loud in the name of entertainment, what’s wrong with movies with female bonding going a little overboard? Talking point or making a point, what these films connote is a subversion of the existing formula hijacked for too long by male stars. 

Move over bromance, womance is here to stick and sting.

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