Coy couples out of fashion in Bollywood

Feb 14, 2006 Subhash K. Jha

Mumbai, Feb 15 (IANS) The courtship game in our films seems to have changed drastically. Demure damsels and decorous men are a thing of the past. In the two recent comedies, "Shaadi No. 1" and "Garam Masala", we constantly saw the heroes in the company of a crowd of women.

"Audiences like that. They warm up to the thought of seeing the frames crowded with attractive people of both sexes," says David Dhawan.

So what happened to the conventional coy can't-do-no-wrong couple cavorting behind conifers and other camouflages?

The formula for this season seems to be simple... Buy young and get young free. The courtship game has never been more conspicuous by its presence. In Priyadarshan's "Garam Masala", Akshay Kumar and John Abraham chase skirts so hard they (the dudes, and not just the skirts) fly really high.

When Akshay Kumar did his last film "Hera Pheri" with Priyadarshan there was no leading lady for him. The producer Sajid Nadiadwala had to write two song sequences where the mate-less character turned flamboyant in fantasia.

"In 'Garam Masala' we had three new actresses providing the two heroes with ample diversion. It was a package steal," says the prolific Priyan.

In David Dhawan's "Shaadi No. 1" the three suitors played by Fardeen Khan, Zayed Khan and Sharman Joshi were willing and able... and the girls were far from coy.

Knock knock? Coy hai kya? What happened to the dainty touch-me-not ladies? They are certainly on the wane, if not totally out of fashion.

In Farhan Akhtar's "Don", Priyanka Chopra is the unstoppable go-getter.

Indeed, the last of the truly demure graceful screen queens seems to be Aishwarya Rai in J.P. Dutta's "Umrao Jaan". "And even I am playing a motivated Mata Hari in 'Dhoom 2'," says Aishwarya.

"Fighter females are definitely in," says Priyanka.

"And so are ladies' men," says David in whose "Shaadi No. 1" the guys have no hassles in whooping it up with six hot women, three of whom happen to be their screen wives. What sizzling vibes!

The tapori style of winning the girl started with David Dhawan's "Raja Babu" and "Haseena Maan Jayegi". Other recent examples where the lead players pulled out all stops in the courtship game were Abhishek Bachchan and Priyanka in Rohan Sippy's "Bluffmaster" and Arjun Sablok's "Neal 'N' Nikki".

Says Sablok: "My film was certainly not coy. It is not the mood of the times. And our cinema is bound to get more and more aggressive in projecting mating games."

After "Salaam Namaste", "Neal 'N' Nikki" further corroborated the tradition-bound banner Yash Raj Films' desire to change moral with the times.

In "Salaam Namaste", Saif Ali Khan and Preity Zinta share a live-in relationship and even sire a baby before marriage... an unheard-of thought in the past. Seventeen years ago in Sooraj Barjatya's "Maine Pyar Kiya" the boy Salman Khan and girl Bhagyashree lived under the same roof, but in separate flanks of the sprawling bungalow.

As David succinctly puts it, "If a filmmaker doesn't move with the times, he'll be moved out."

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Garam Masala


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