For an industry that has largely been male-centric and thrived on stereotyping women , it was quite unfathomable some time back, to even think that some of our finest female artists will ever get to showcase their true potential. But now we are getting to see a deluge of female-driven content in the Indian entertainment segment, all thanks to the OTT space that has been more open to experimentation unlike television or the big screen.
The streaming platforms have given a fresh lease of life to filmmakers, writers who usually shied away from exploring controversial subjects or so-called taboo topics fearing wrath of censor board. The female-driven content such as Delhi Crime, Hundred, Aarya, Four More Shots Please!, She, Bhaag Beanie Bhaag, and Bombay Begums- have brought the women at the forefront of entertainment segment. By bringing forward various shades of womanhood, these web shows are dispelling typical gender stereotypes that have stuck around for generations.
In Mirzapur, we see different factes of womanhood. Shweta Tripathi’s tranformation from an introvert college girl to a dreaded gangster is in sharp contrast to Rasika Duggal’s character Beena which breaks the taboo surrouning female desires as she metamorphoses from a demure bahu to a fierce woman. Then there is Dev DD2 which reinvents Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s classic literary work Devdas with gender reversal. Be it the story of a small-town girl playing a phone sex operator (Hellojee) or women asserting their rights across the society(Bombay Begum), there are diverse shades being served.
A recent example is Vidya Balan starrer Sherni that narrates the story of a woman forest is caught in the quagmire of the sexism-laden ‘sarkari’ workplace. Samantha Akkineni’s breathtaking portrayal of Raji, an Elam militant planning to target the Indian prime minister, is a major highlight of Family Man season 2. Her character balances her vulnerability as a person who knows nothing beyond her movement and what she perceives is her idealism. Then there is actress Huma Qureshi in the web series “Maharani”, which tells a story of an illiterate wife of an indisposed chief minister being pushed into the hot seat of Bihar politics. The series made it easy to understand the much talked-about fodder scam. Then there’s also Kirti Kulhari breaking stereotypes around marriage in Shaadisthan. Not long ago,Sanya Malhotra broke taboos with Pagglait.
Sharing her view about the changing narrative in entertainment segment, Kulhari told Hindustan Times: “The writing has got so better, with right representation happening in the OTT space. And females make 50% of the population, so it’s only right. Also, the space is all about the content, and you don’t need to have faces or stars.”
Veteran actor Shefali Shah, who played a cop in Emmy award winning web series Delhi Crime, gave credits to OTT platforms for opening new avenues for actors and ushering change through news age films.
Speaking with news agency IANS, Shefali said,” Bollywood used to reduce its women characters to props, noting how the OTT space and new-age films have ushered change. “That has changed. OTT has opened the world to us as actors and heroes as well. We are going back to that stage,” she said.