So, women-oriented films collect awards, get rave reviews and go globe-trotting at major film festivals, even, but most dream merchants fight shy of making films on and about women.For every commercially viable Chandni, Kya Kehna, Dushman, Dor, Beta, Life in a Metro, Chandni Bar, Page 3 and Parineeta, there are box-office duds like Zubeida, Fire, Water, Girlfriend, Dil Hai Tumhara to name some. Not that filmmakers haven't dared -Pradeep Sarkar's Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, Anil Mehta's Aaja Nachle, Ashutosh Gowarikar's Jodhaa Akbar and Madhur Bhandarkar's Fashion in the anvil, sure looks like Bollywood's dream women might have a rosier future ahead.
Filmmaker Deepak Tijori feels that the audience for women-oriented films is lost because the 'language of cinema is changing and becoming more commercial. Even the audience prefers male dominated films. So films have to be packaged and presented correctly. Filmmakers will continue to make such films, but only commercial success will decide whether women-oriented films will work in India or not.'
The general misconception seems to be that women-oriented movies are serious and dark, while today's audience prefers light-hearted entertaining films. "The society is male dominated, so there is no demand for women-oriented films. Some women-oriented films are doing well, but the number is very low. Only if the demand for these films go up, will a change take place and more such films can be made," says filmmaker Tanuja Chandra. Chips in filmmaker Pradeep Sarkar, "women-oriented films are appreciated a lot overseas."
Who sells a film, the hero or the heroine? In the 90s, we know Madhuri Dixit had guaranteed commercial success to several films she'd worked in. Filmmaker, Kunal Kohli feels,"films are about people and gender of the lead character doesn't matter. A lot depends on how the director looks at and presents women in his film. Having a women-oriented film talks of a gender bias. In my films Hum Tum and Fanaa, women had a very strong presence and were presented beautifully."
Some actors also feel filmmakers should broaden their mental horizons a bit and let the winds of change sweep in. Shreyas Talpade says, "while making a women-oriented film, filmmakers should stick to certain parameters." Actress Tulip Joshi who's played the lead in the women-oriented Matrubhoomi and Dhokha, feels, "a film's script, screenplay and how the film is marketed matters the most. Women-oriented films don't really need to be sad and dull. And most importantly the audience has to connect to it, in order to make it commercially successful."
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