No space for women in TFI?

No space for women in TFI?

When Vijayshanthi would wield a laathi and fight goons all by her herself in the film ‘Karthavyam’, cinema halls would burst out into echoes and...

When Vijayshanthi would wield a laathi and fight goons all by her herself in the film ‘Karthavyam’, cinema halls would burst out into echoes and whistles of excited fans. While Jyothika's infamous “Laka…laka” brought down chills in spines of many hardcore horror movie lovers, the majesty that Anushka carried out in Arundathi left the cine-goers mesmerised.

Time and again, strong women-centric films have been greatly applauded by both the audience and the critics alike. From an era where heroines just added a glamour quotient in the film to an age where female actresses demand a meaty role equivalent to their male counterparts, Tollywood has a come a long way in redefining the space of women in the showbiz industry.

With mammoth projects like ‘Baahubali’ being successful in establishing powerful character profiles for actresses like Ramya Krishna and Anushka, other heroines of the T-town too are eager to give their best performances and attempt content-driven roles.

This year Tollywood has witnessed movies wherein the female characters portrayed were so strong that it overshadowed the parts played by their male counterparts. Sai Pallavi, for instance, brought to life her character Bhanu in the film ‘Fidaa’ wherein she was featured alongside mega hero Varun Tej. The Malayali beauty surely won the hearts and appreciation of movie fanatics across the Telugu speaking states and in the overseas for her acting and dancing abilities.

Even Ritika Singh who starred with Daggubati Venkatesh in ‘Guru’, the remake of Tamil film ‘Irudhi Suttru’, garnered accolades for her performance as a roadside vegetable seller Rameswari, who went on to become a boxing champion.

Having said that one cannot ignore the fact that only a handful of scripts did complete justice in showcasing the acting abilities of an actress because of which they are facing a tough time in picking up stories that give them the equal screen space like any of their male leads. Many movies which cast highly talented actresses alongside star heroes looked promising in the start but ended up elevating the role of the male lead reducing the role of an actress to an arm candy and sometimes even a set property without any scope of performance.

For example, the recent flick ‘Jai Lava Kusa’, which starred Junior NTR in three different characters couldn't utilise the acting prowess of either Rashi Khanna or Nivetha Thomas to the fullest. Although Nivetha Thomas still managed to stand out in a few scenes, Rashi Khanna was almost a no-show in the box office giant which went on to become the 4th highest grosser of 2017.

If finding appropriate meaty roles to showcase their talent is becoming increasingly difficult in the T-town, to act in an independent content driven women-oriented film is almost a distant dream for the aspiring and established actresses. Only a few like Samantha Akkineni, Nithya Menon, Anushka Shetty, Nayantara, etc have been able to pull off such movies surpassing great difficulties in the past.

But with the box office duds of films like ‘Lakshmi Bomb’, ‘Chitrangada’ and ‘Mixture Potlam’ in the recent times, producers find women-centric films as a risky investment and hence are laying safer bets on commercial films with a regular success formula with a star hero fighting villain to protect the heroine and a happily ever after climax. Moreover, even prolific scriptwriters of the tinsel town too, show not much of an interest in penning down exceptional stories for the leading ladies.

Limited by the scope of performance-oriented roles, female actors are now looking up to Bollywood and other film industries to shed their monotonous image of being the glam doll or the damsel-in-distress. Unlike Tollywood, the Hindi film industry has produced a larger number of women-centric films this year out of which some gained serious critical acclaim while a few managed to also rake in profits for the production companies not just in the country but even abroad.

Despite the success and failure of such movies, the scriptwriters are finding innovative ways to portray their female leads and the producers too, don't seem to take the chance given the vast circle of an audience the industry has. Be it as a friendly ghost that is in search for its erstwhile lover in the ‘Phillauri’ or the bold ‘Begum Jaan’, who protects her clan of prostitutes and fights against the government to defend their existence, the multitude of stories that Bollywood put forth its audience has a superior quality than the ones that were produced in the Telugu industry in 2017.

It is unfortunate that in a generation where we speak volumes about women empowerment and breaking the glass ceilings that distances women from enjoying their rightful privileges, our film industry still retains an invisible partiality towards encouraging male chauvinism and gives priority to family lineages than talent that the artistes possess.

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