• The Feminist Times

The Metamorphosis of the Modern Women



POV: it's 2004, you're watching Aitraaz. You see Priyanka Chopra's character and absolutely dislike her. Well after all she was supposed to be hated. She was the typical

"modern women", wore dresses, married an older man and chose her career over having a family.

Well Priyanka's character wasn’t the only one that was hated by the masses for being modern. This is a well-known trope, that started around the late 80s. But what exactly is a modern woman? Well, I thought that a modern woman is someone confident, someone who

stands for the right cause and for herself, is independent, takes charge of her life, and most importantly lives a guilt free life for when she makes her own decisions and choices. She empowers those around her whether she dawns a salwar suit, a saree, a dress or a mini skirt.

But films told us otherwise, what exactly were the traits of these modern women according to the film industry? Well, for starters, they wore dresses, an outfit that a typical, “sanskari” women in these films never adorned, consumed alcohol and continuously try to get the hero

from the heroine and in their mean time, scheming. Yup that's all they did.

Most of the time, these characters were the antagonist and their counterpart, the actual heroine of the film wore traditional clothes along with all accessories that scream that she’s a married woman. Well, if you’re thinking that the industry was kind to this “sanskari” trope

then you’re wrong. These characters had no personality of their own, were okay with

decisions made by others for them, would face harsh circumstances but would never stand up

for themselves and were depicted to be submissive.

But, with the changing times, the outlook towards the modern women has changed. Rather

than being hated now, people actually started liking these modern women. But how did it

really happen? Suddenly people who once hated these women were now rooting for them.

Well yes, there were changes in this stereotypical character. Now she had an ambition and a

career, they became relatable and no their entire existence did not revolve around stealing the

guy from the Heroine. Bollywood gave this troupe real jobs and they also got personalities.

While the reason, for these characters becoming likable can be that they became relatable

moreover had a back story to people could sympathize with. They do things that women

now-a-days do. They do not sit back and scheme against other women instead now they help

women. Films and series like Four More Shots, Made in Heaven, Ki and Ka, Veere Di Wedding, NH10, Lipstick Under My Burkha gave us some iconic women characters who were modern and bold and also have narratives that the audience can understand and seem

realistic.


While, the addition of such characters is good representation, that does not mean that film

industry depicts women the right way. But now looking at the rising number of women

writers and filmmakers in the industry, there’s hope that we would get more characters who

are out there smashing both the patriarchy and stereotypes.

-Aadya Punj

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