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Shashikala passes away: Revisiting the 'good woman' roles portrayed by the iconic Bollywood femme fatale

Shashikala passes away: Revisiting the 'good woman' roles portrayed by the iconic Bollywood femme fatale
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Shashikala passes away: Revisiting the 'good woman' roles portrayed by the iconic Bollywood femme fatale

In the acceptable (or worst) traditions of Hindi cinema’s rotten females, the glamorous Shashikala grew to become as soon as invariably pitted in opposition to the straight-laced main girls of us of her time, as an ideological reverse or a flimsy Westernised degenerate or merely a rival in be happy, seething in bitterness and jealousy, a successfully the actress drew from {powerful} too basically. She stamped her hyper-camp persona with sheer gusto on the slew of unsympathetic components she grew to become as soon as consigned with — stock characters she made her have spectacularly in a occupation spanning further than six a long time, bringing alongside wigs, night gloves and costume jewelry for the drag, and infrequently an oz. of subtlety.

Hers grew to become as soon as a house femme fatale who would per probability per probability scarcely be redeemed in distinction to, communicate, Helen’s moll with a coronary heart of gold. For her efforts, she grew to become as soon as thrown off a cliff, or mauled in a cat-strive in opposition to, or publicly chastised or shot down in cool blood.

However, for all that, when strong in opposition to type, Shashikala, {powerful} much less ostentatiously, strung collectively a sequence of components helpful for the vogue through which they spoke of unusual and treasured feminine kinship, sometimes relegated to the footnotes of the present cinematic customized. For occasion, in Bimal Roy’s basic, Sujata (1959), she performs Rama, the daughter of the household through which Nutan’s eponymous persona — a Dalit lady orphaned at delivery — has moreover been launched up, nevertheless sans Rama’s assemble admission to and privilege. Sujata and Rama regard themselves as soul-sisters, as evinced by the Bechdel-passing duet, ‘Bachpan Ke Din’, sung evocatively by Asha Bhosle and Geeta Dutt. Rama refreshingly doesn’t seem to inherit her of us’ prejudices in the case of the boundaries of caste, and thoroughly steps out of the vogue when she discovers that Sujata has realized favour with the man the household had hand-picked as her suitor, with out a tag of entitled rancour.

Shashikala passes away Revisiting the good woman roles portrayed by the iconic Bollywood femme fatale

Shashikala (pleasing) with Nutan in Bimal Roy’s Sujata. Picture by technique of Fb

In Trilok Jetley’s 1963 adaptation of Munshi Premchand’s Godaan, Shashikala performs Malati, a wealthy Savarna physician who wears her privilege much less evenly than her friends, and attracts {powerful} power from the struggles of the peasant females of the hamlet that she chooses to help, although she will be able to once in a while bridge the hole between the two worlds she makes an try to straddle. It’s a very pared-down mannequin of the social activist persona from Premchand’s e-book, the place the feudal elites and their effectively-intentioned interventions and introspections are given {powerful} further area, nevertheless an understated Shashikala makes an affect reasonably in distinction to that of her contemporaneous components as a result of the shrewish housewife in 1962’s Aarti or the blackmailing secretary in 1963’s Gumrah, each Filmfare-a success performances that, unwittingly on the time per probability, plot the tone for the consolation of her occupation and moreover saddled us with problematic feminine characterisations that continued for a few years.

Seemingly Shashikala’s effervescence grew to become as soon as by no means place into bigger use than in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Anupama (1966), the place she performs the ceaselessly tickled Annie, immediately shrill and endearing, who’s a really most fun foil to Sharmila Tagore’s painfully unnerved and reticent Uma — the two females are a glance in contrasts, no longer staunch by temperament, nevertheless of their relationships with their fathers and the males (Deven Verma and Dharmendra) who seize to enter their lives. Shashikala is given two honorable Bhosle ditties, ‘Kyun Mujhe Itni Khushi’ and ‘Bheegi Bheegi Faza’, to showcase her gregarious nevertheless by no means cloying self, and in the shatter helps to boost Uma and her equally withdrawn beau-to-be collectively. The 4 leads of Anupama by the map through which moreover labored collectively in Mohan Sehgal’s Devar that very same 12 months — a in total convoluted nevertheless extraordinarily environment friendly social drama through which ‘childhood lovers’ Tagore and Dharmendra are caught in loveless marriages with Verma and Shashikala respectively.

Shashikala passes away Revisiting the good woman roles portrayed by the iconic Bollywood femme fatale

Shashikala and Sharmila Tagore in Devar. Picture by technique of Nationwide Movie Archives of India (NFAI)

Later in her occupation, Shashikala realized herself taking half in scheming moms-in-laws, conspiratorial queen mothers and brothel madams, nevertheless Mukherjee gave her however each different persona for the ages in Khubsoorat (1980), the place she is the elder daughter-in-laws, or Badi Bhabhi, in a peculiarly guidelines-sure household sprint by strict disciplinarian Dina Pathak. Enter an Annie-love high-gripping persona, Manju (performed by Rekha), who learns of Badi Bhabhi’s leanings in the direction of classical dance and will get her to each so repeatedly change the cloistered confines of the household for the freedom of an open-air terrace the place they dance in an unbridled method to however however each different gripping Bhosle quantity, ‘Piya Baawri’. Each Annie and Manju would per probability per probability even be thought to be precursors to Hollywood’s powerful-touted manic pixie dream-girls, although their sparkle and vim have been further in supplier of their have wants and compulsions than of the forlorn males they have been destined to ‘put’. By the map through which, livewire persona actor David Abraham performed father to each characters.

Shashikala passes away Revisiting the good woman roles portrayed by the iconic Bollywood femme fatale

Shashikala in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Khubsoorat. Picture by technique of Nationwide Movie Archives of India (NFAI)

One among Shashikala’s meatier roles on this size grew to become as soon as in Dulal Guha’s Mera Karam Mera Dharam (1987), a rural drama and curry western rolled into one, the place she performed a lady who, virtually over-indulgently, dotes on her niece, Mala (Moushumi Chatterjee), whereas sustaining the veneer of maternal cantankerousness. In a single dispute-stopping 2nd when feudal overlords attain trying to go looking out Mala — who’s supposedly transgressed village norms by her desire of lover — her aunt passionately stands guard on the temple door, scythe in quivering hand, as if possessed by the Goddess Kali herself, and sends the males (which includes Johnny Walker as her spineless husband) scurrying. It’s a unusual (and surprisingly correct) 2nd of dramatic heft in a film about power-drunk patriarchy that’s in any other case absolutely dash-of-the-mill. The slack Nineteen Eighties marked the starting of a hiatus in Shashikala’s occupation via which she involved herself with Mom Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. In her have phrases, this served as a roughly atonement for her poisonous reel avatars — however, whereas working inside a reductive mainstream, she had completely scripted a cinematic course that emphatically spelled out a redemption all of its have, if the sort of factor grew to become as soon as certainly warranted.

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