Snip from New York Times article about the trend toward open sexual assertiveness of female characters in Bollywood movies:
[Priyanka Chopra] is a Bollywood actress, and as such, trained to play the role of a virginal glam-doll, not a sexual aggressor. By tradition, a Bollywood heroine is a one-dimensional creation who may wear eye-popping bustiers or writhe passionately during a song in the rain. But she is unfailingly virtuous. Whether girlfriend, wife or mother, she is the repository of Indian moral values. In the ancient epic "Ramayana," the hero Lakshman draws a furrow in the earth, the Line of Lakshman, which represents the limits of proper feminine behavior, and requests that his sister-in-law Sita not step outside it. As if heeding his exhortation, Bollywood heroines have rarely stepped out of line, even for a kiss.
But a decade-long cultural churning has overturned stereotypes in India. In 1991, the threat of fiscal collapse forced the government to introduce wide-ranging economic reforms and allow multinational corporations to operate in India. The same year, satellite television arrived. Today, consumerism, globalization, the proliferation of semiclad bodies in print and television, and the emergence of a more worldly audience have redefined the boundaries of what is permissible. Sex has been pulled out of the closet and actors have become more willing to experiment with their images. The latest Bollywood heroines seem to be taking a page out of Mae West's book: when they are good, they are very good, but when they are bad, they're better.
Photo: Priyanka Chopra and Ashkay Kumar in Aitraaz, credit: Mukta Arts.