From Sati Savitri To Sultry Savitri

From Sati Savitri To Sultry Savitri

Bolly Guru19 Dec 2011

The evolution of the heroine in Hindi films from demure, sati sabitri to rather sexy, sultry savitri as portrayed in films. He captures the transition that has taken place on screen and in our minds from Padmini, Zeenat Aman in Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand films to Vidya Balan in Ekta Kapoors latest.

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By endorsing and passing The Dirty Picture without much cuts and applauding Producer of the film Ekta Kapoor for deconstructing the image of the Hindi film heroine in the world of cinema, she being holier than thou, by underlining the fact that sultriness is an accepted norm of the society, and it is high time cinema also accepted it, Censor board has given official recognition to the fact that indeed the Hindi film heroine has evolved from being sati Savitri to sultry Savitri.

For a land of Kama sutra and Vatsayan, it always has been an existentialist dilemma for the film makers to tread a fine line between projecting a holier than thou image of the lead actress and also flavoring the palate by injecting sultriness, titillation, seduction etc., by choosing a vamp to do it. Element of sultriness was a miniscule part of the whole construct of the cinematic oeuvre, till The showman Raj Kapoor exposed the Indian audience to the element of sultriness and its importance in cinematic viewing through his epic, but a commercial disaster Mera Naam Joker. Sensuous Padmini in a single sheet of saree, in a rain drenched atmosphere trying to seduce Raj Kapoor. Underlining part of this cinematic moment was the caressing that camera did to the voluptuous figure of Padmini in a rather conservative titillating manner, oscillating between maintaining the moral fabric, as also veneering towards the role of exposed skin in breaking the resolve of the individual aka Raj Kapoor. After all, even Vishwamitra could not control himself when he saw a Menaka. From those times cinematic oeuvre has taken liberty to use the context for injecting element of seduction and sultriness. One wonders what would have happened, had MERA NAAM JOKER been a commercial success, as indeed element of sultriness and seduction could then have become a norm for the Indian cinema and mainstream female actors would not had felt shy to venture into this domain.

Raj Kapoor however was not deterred, as he again experimented with this genre in Satyam Shivam Sundaram, where he attempted to transform the western and bindas image of sex siren Zeenat Aman, into an Indian belle, characterized by typical Indian notion of beauty. Such was the charm of Raj Kapoor that even Zeenat Aman thought that she could undergo metamorphosis in her image, and even left Dev Anand to side with Raj Kapoor, which was lamented copiously by Dev Anand in his autobiography as well. But Raj Kapoor again failed, may be owing to the fact that the image of Zeenat Aman as a western girl came as a stumbling block in projecting her as sultry actor, as also owing to the fact the notion of sultriness was more as a dream sequence than reality. But indeed, it has been the chosen path by the Indian film makers to introduce the element of sultriness and seduction under the perceived notion that the main female character has to be holier than thou. Rejection of Zeenat Aman as sultry Savitri could also have been owing to the fact that her body contours were more suited to the western notion of beauty rather than the Indian idea of voluptuousness at right places.

Indeed, if one were to traverse through the cannons of Indian history the form of beauty that is celebrated is that having voluptuousness and it has been immortalized through various form of architectural expressions, christened as Yakshini was the visual expression of eroticism, and this is what the film makers aspired to present through the dream sequences. But probably, it waited the advent of a Vidya Balan to give it expression and actualization, and the confidence to etch the role came from the seductress role that Vidya Balan played in Vishal Bharadwaj''s Ishqiya where she used her physical charm to keep a tight leash on two different kinds of individuals.

Coming as it is from Ekta Kapoor, who has been instrumental and catalytic in celebrating the Indian female form in its entirety through television, The Dirty Picture is graduation from television to cinema of the sultry Savitri. Indeed, if one were to run a check on the various characters that Ekta Kapoor's production house gave to Indian homes through television, the underlining motif would be celebration of sultry Savitri and therefore expressing the same through the medium of cinema has been a cakewalk for her.

Choice of Vidya Balan has also been an icing on the cake as she is the modern form of Yakshini, voluptuousness being the highlight of her beauty, which has been at the receiving end of criticism, but Vidya Balan seems to have the last laugh as she through her projection of character in THE DIRTY PICTURE has brought back the notion of Indian beauty on to the cinematic screen with a big bang. It is this form with which the average Indian male identifies and dreams about and one hopes that one would get to see more such expressions of Indian forms of beauty in the cinematic oeuvres on offer.

About Bolly Guru

Bolly GuruBolly Guru started writing features on cinema with a challenge thrown by a friend to underline that cinematic writing is not a serious stuff. He thinks, cinema being the mirror to and of the society, if one wants to interpret with societal and the managerial tools, and also by factoring in the aspirations and feelings of common man, it can indeed be a serious business. Through this column, he would try to address the same, by bringing in the historical premises, the managerial jargons as also the earthy wisdom of the laity to facilitate a discourse on cinema. Bolly Guru will engage the readers to chip in with their views to make the cinema viewing a serious issue, but with a tinge of humor. The author may be contacted at bolly.guru@gomolo.com.

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