At a recent event, Deepika Padukone, one of the highest paid and succesful actors from Bollywood, was asked why she believed female-centric films were more successful in 2018. To this she promptly replied why we need to stop categorising films on the basis of its protagonist’s gender.
According to a report in indianexpress.com, Deepika said, “It is nice for us to say ‘women centric’ or ‘female centric’ when we are at a podium like this. But when it comes to creativity, we have to look beyond male and female if the film didn’t work.”
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Making an observation that many Bollywood pundits have also made in the recent years, Deepika also pointed out that audiences have shown a distinct preference for films with good stories over ones starring big stars like the Khans. “It is different when you say that Khans’ films didn’t work, but say a film like Andhadhun, that was led by Ayushmann (Khurrana), worked. So, it really boils down to the script itself,” she said.
Then she proceeded to reveal an interesting trend that’s happening in Bollywood.
“I see a trend that films that are being led by women are doing much better. Also, we are in a place today where directors are changing roles, and that was unheard of. You have a script which has a male protagonist, then suddenly directors are like ‘wait, let me just flip that, let me make that a female protagonist and then go to so and so with the film’. So, you hear of a film that was offered to a male actors two-three years ago, and it is coming back to you now with a female protagonist. It is a huge achievement.”
This is an interesting phenomenon because this essentially opens up broader avenues for women in mainstream Bollywood, especially, where women are generally relegated to the roles of girlfriends, wives, and mothers of actors who do all the heavy-lifting. This will also help change the narrative that actors deserve to get fatter paycheques for their contributions to films because they have bigger roles in it.
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Deepika pointed out that how a story is made and presented matters more to the audience, “As a creative person, I would not like to make distinction like male led, female led and all of that. I would just say that great content is what is really working right now, and the audience are ready for that (type of content). It doesn’t matter today who is in the movie. It really depends on the kind of story that is being told and how well the director is telling that story. All these factors, I think, are playing a very important role in the success of these films.”
She further added, “No one can blindly say that just because so and so is in the film, let’s go and watch it. I think 2018 has made that clear. Audience has that pulse right from the poster to the promo. They know instantly from the first trailer that goes out, whether they want to go and watch that film or not. Of course, then there are films that may not be sort of trending right from the start, but once they release and over the weekend, the word of mouth helps elevate the film. But yes, gone are the days when you have a big star on a film poster and that film worked.”