By Aneesha Puri
The closure of a story dictates the ideological politics of a movie, which obviously does not imply that we totally undermine the trajectory building up towards the closure. But why is the closure of a movie watched for leisure to be scrutinised and problematised? Let’s do a comparative analysis of the three Bollywood releases of 2014 – Dedh Ishqiya, Highway and Queen which despite the unconventional and subversive narrative content managed to generate remarkably good moolah, gaining not only critical acclamation but blockbuster successes. Despite the widespread dissimilarities between these movies, what binds them together except for the overtly women-centric subjects? For driving home the fact that a wedding or an imminent love alliance is not the only possibility of a happily ever after ending. All these three movies through their teleological development redefined the conceptualisation of a fairytale ending not in terms of conjugality but just the very idea of liberated living. Twenty years back in mainstream Bollywood, the only trope used to be a stereotypical love story between a girl symbolising traditionally cherished virtues and a boy striking a balance between the macho and the chivalrous so as to be able to fight all the goons single handed while at the same time exuding enough of gentleness to woo the girl and the movie typically concluding with the inevitable wedding or the promise of it. This trend lasted for so long that it almost started seeming like it is here to stay forever till Bollywood movie makers started exploring the unchartered territories and experimenting with the peripheries. This mainstreaming of the marginalised started creating ripples in the calm waters of Bollywood about a decade back and now has at least started taking steps towards an emancipated cinematic experience.
This maturing of cinema is to be traced in the foregrounding of a subtly intimate relationship almost suggestive of a lesbian undercurrent( loosely based on Ismat Chughtai’s most celebrated and controversial short story ‘Lihaaf’) between a middle-aged royal widow (played by Madhuri Dixit)and a much younger girl (played by Huma Qureshi) in Dedh Ishqiya and the movie ending not with the conventional closure of a heterosexual love affair but with the celebration of unfettered living of the female protagonists. Highway charts the evolution of a young girl( played by Alia Bhatt) who has her moment of revelation and realises the irreversible changes she has undergone and the impossibility of a normative married life with her fiancée who embodies everything she detests. The movie concludes with the exaltation of her euphoric epiphany. Queen portrays the life of a simple girl (played by Kangana Ranaut) jilted by her fiancée just before the marriage and her decision to take control of her life in ways she could never imagine before. She goes on her honeymoon alone to Paris and Amsterdam and comes back a much stronger and emancipated girl who would live her life only on her own terms. She returns the engagement ring despite repeated pleadings by the boy to reconsider the marriage and glories in her newly discovered freedom. This transition in the ideological landscape of Bollywood which celebrates the notion of unshackled living has been a much needed and awaited change and hopefully it is here to stay!
Aneesha Puri is pursuing her Masters in English Literature from Miranda House. A self-confessed book- ravisher , keen surveyor of society and its ideological politics, loves deconstructing and decoding anything and everything that even remotely concerns people, ranging from celebrated, canonical literary texts to popular cinema and advertisements. Her idea of utopia is a truly emancipated world which allows everyone, unfettered freedom to foster his/ her potential to the maximum.
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