Tabbu gave immense respect to the National Award when she standardized it with a calm but splendid portrayal of Mumtaz in ‘Chandni Bar’. That was the story of a woman indulging in the filth at the lowest order in our society. Earlier, her aunt Shabana Aazmi excellently conveyed the misery of the big sister of the brothel as she gets older and younger lot demands more power in ‘Mandi’. Preity Zinta added humor in ‘Chori Chori Chupke Chupke‘. Not to forget that she had immense help from the original diva Julia Robert’s ‘Pretty Woman’. Those women were made to rise up with the help of rich men from their level. Konkana Sen Sharma tries to present herself as modern and in line with fashion to attract her customers in ‘Traffic Signal’. Rani Mukerji’s Chunari’s Daag was let down by a bland writing but she was stupendous in her performance. Kareena Kapoor was the new age Chameli waiting for her bread and butter on a rainy lane in the dark night.
Back in the day, almost every heroine experienced the agony and the lush of a kotha. If Rekha was Umrao Jaan, Meena Kumari was Saheb Jaan in ‘Paakeezah’. Madhuri Dixit revisited the past as Chandramukhi. Soulful. Graceful. Rich. Hema Malini told Dharmendra that she had left sharafat. Mandakini exposed the filthiness of the father of the bride in ‘Raam Teri Ganga Maili‘, a very bold but powerful film created by Raj Kapoor. He was bashed for showing the nudity, but this was the price he paid for showing the truth. The stories and the style of presentation changed with the time, but all these roles were the different shades of the distressed women of our society.
All these women have been leading superstars, or the legends to be precise, of their times. They never hesitated from portraying these role on the big screen and I have not taken into account innumerable forgettable and unforgettable roles.
To assume that the state of Punjab is doing without the world’s oldest profession, is a blatant denial of truth. I have not met anyone or come across any such story personally, but if the leading dailies of Punjab are to be believed, many young girls spoil their lives in the pursuit of becoming a heroine, or to put it more clearly, to get featured in just a video of some famous singer. Can Punjab say vehemently that all women of the land are pure? We all know the answer. Bathinda city is assumed to be the hub of the girls who lose their dignity at the hands of the middlemen. I do not know if it is true. For me it is just a hearsay. That Chandigarh city is as notorious for the prevalence of sinful relationships as for its beauty and class is no hidden story. Did we not have the sporadic stories of young and immature Punjabi girls being taken away by the men of other states?
No, I have never seen Punjabi cinema screen showcasing this side of a woman. No man has been created to hold her hand as in ‘Laaga Chunari Mein Daag’. No slum or small room has been created to show the living conditions of the woman forced to engage in such an act. No leading heroine of Punjabi films would want to play the high-profile mistress of a man. Why? An answer which is lost in oblivion. If playing the role would bring the insult, then Tabbu and Konkana Sen Sharma are the cheapest actresses as they played the role by going down to the extreme low level without any glamor. What kind of hypocrisy is this? We want girls clad in skimpy clothes sashaying left and right in the music videos, but we do not want a film based on them as it will be blasphemous for our jovial and pure Punjabi culture. The concept is laughable.
In the race to present own self as holier-than-thou, our actresses and writers have forgotten that they are into the field to act and to tell the stories of different societies living within one large society.
My discounted demoiselle 2 – She who sells thy self and has her story different from the other one.
P.S. – The most heart-wrenching film based on this issue which I have seen til date from India is Kamal Hassan’s Tamil film ‘Mahanadhi’. A father going to rescue his daughter from a brothel where he finds her in objectionable clothes, the brothel owner demanding money from him to let his daughter free, and the other women trapped in the profession showering notes on him to make up for the ‘cost’ of the girl was embarrassingly powerful. Anyone who has seen this film can never forget Kamal’s shameful tears and cries as he holds her daughter and has to rely on prostitutes’ money to take her away from the area full of people involved in this organized crime.
Kamal Hassan himself played the father of the teenage girl. No wonder, he is a legend and much respected even in Bollywood circles. Doing something out of the routine makes an actor a legend. And this is the reason Tamil cinema has set itself as an independent money spinner. Their audience are fed with novel stories by their actors and producers. There is really no need to worry about the image because at the end of the day, actors are meant to act, and not compete with saints.
Oh and Yes, Kamal Hassan’s daughter gets married happily in the end of the film. The film fetched him the National Award for Best Film.