I was reading today's newspaper (TOI, Chennai edition), and had a glance through Chennai Times (the Chennai equivalent of Bombay Times). There were three interviews of newcomer actresses/starlets, and I noticed that there was one question that was put forth to all the three actresses : "What is your stand on doing nude scenes/kissing scenes?" The actresses gave the same, hackneyed answer: "I am not comfortable doing such scenes, but I will do them if they are 'aesthetically shot', by a good director".
This is not the first time. Over the past few years, I've read umpteen interviews of newcomer actresses, and ALL of them have been asked this question. Now I don't really have a right to profess morality, considering that I'm no saint, but this according to me is the lowest ebb of decency. They are just indirectly asking the girl, "Will we get to see you nude?". A reputed newspaper like Times of India stoops to this level with alarming regularity. And we talk of "Indian culture".
I sometimes pity the condition of actresses in the Indian film industry. There are some very specific expectations from them, as they enter the film industry. They all enter the industry with aspirations of becoming top actresses, without the skin show. Their role models are Kajol, Preity Zinta, and Rani Mukherjee. After a string of flops, they gain some wisdom and lose some clothes. Classic examples include Mahima Chowdhary and Diya Mirza. They entered the industry with a bang, and claimed that they wanted to become top actresses, without the skin show. Mahima Chowdhary, in fact, has stated in many interviews in that she is not comfortable revealing even cleavage or leg. Today, after six-seven years of consistent flops, you can see her in some b-grade movies, revealing more than just cleavage and leg.
Diya Mirza's case is even more pathetic. A certified beauty (winner of Miss Asia-Pacific 2000), she is said to have rejected several roles because they involved kissing scenes and skin show. Several flops later, she had to do roles of a stripper (Tumsa Nahi Dekha) and even an item girl (Phir Hera Pheri). Other cases include Yukta Mookhey (Miss World 1999) and Hrishitaa Bhatt, who have long faded into oblivion after claiming to have Kajol and Rani as their role models. They were last seen doing item numbers in obscure Bhojpuri movies.
If Zeenat Aman and Parveen Babi brought forward the sensuality and oomph factor in the Indian actress in the late 70s and early 80s, then you've got to credit Mallika Sherawat taking it a dozen steps further. With just one movie and 17 kisses, she gave all the leading actresses a run for their money. Her antics made it mandatory for almost all other leading Bollywood actresses to become sex objects, being known only for their looks and curves rather than acting skills. And that trend is increasing with each passing day.
As I mentioned before on this blog, I get mostly Southie channels on my TV here. And I noticed that almost all South (Tamil/Kannada/Telugu) movie trailers have a more or less fixed pattern. A typical 30-second South movie trailer goes like this : It starts off with a shot of the hero making a grand entry somewhere, followed by a grotesque close-up of his facial features. This is followed by fleeting scenes of him bashing up some goons, after which you see him mouthing some emotional dialogues in a melodramatic scee. Finally the trailer ends with a brief shot of the heroine dancing vigorously. They've showcased all the ingredients that are supposedly part of "entertainment" - The hero and his fight-scenes for the action lovers, the emotional scene, and finally the heroine for titillation. The actress, hence, has nothing much to do, other than dancing vigorously and looking pretty.
And we talk of women's empowerment..