Woman power in Bollywood: 'Aisha' proves a point

Jul 24, 2010 Radhika Bhirani

New Delhi, July 24 (IANS) Producer, director, screenplay writer, lead actor...'Aisha' is one of those rare Bollywood projects where women seem to have called the shots for every little thing.

And rightly so, says Rhea Kapoor, Bollywood star Anil Kapoor's younger daughter, who at 23 is proudly the youngest Bollywood producer. The film has her elder sister Sonam Kapoor in the lead.

'Women do think in a way which is more detailed and meticulous than men. And they want to make everything around them beautiful. They have a mother-like feeling towards whatever they do and that's why so many women gravitated towards 'Aisha' because it was like everybody's baby,' Rhea told IANS.

While Rhea pumped in money, Rajshree Ojha wielded the megaphone, Devika Bhagat wrote the screenplay, Amita Sehgal was the casting director, and the production designing was done by Shruti Gupte.

In the dialogues department, Devika teamed up with Ritu Bhatia and also created space for male member Manurishi Chaddha to come up with their wittiest best.

'Women easily attach themselves to films and in a way it's good... because then you damn everything. You will make something you are proud of and not care about Rs.38 crore or Rs.40 crore... it's not like a 'bhindi bazaar' for them then. It becomes a passion and that's what happened with 'Aisha',' Rhea said.

Sonam says she feels 'empowered' to be a part of the film which boasts of an array of women in the cast and crew.

There are three other women - Ira Dubey, Amrita Puri and Lisa Haydon - in the cast and the principal costume designer and hair stylist too are women.

Not to forget that the film, releasing Aug 6, is itself inspired by Jane Austen's classic novel 'Emma' about a high society girl caught up in a web of friendships and obsession with match making.

Apart from four female actors, the film, of course, features male actors Abhay Deol, Arunoday Singh and Cyrus Sahukar for a balanced mix. 'The men were frightened! 'Aisha' is a totally female-dominated project.

There are people like Rhea and Sonam and so many others in the crew that people must now get out of the notion that Bollywood is all about hunky and good-looking men,' said theatre actress Ira, who is making her mainstream Bollywood debut with 'Aisha'.

Actor-filmmaker Anil Kapoor, who is extremely proud of his daughters Sonam and Rhea, says he is impressed by the way women have carved a niche for themselves in this industry once dominated by men.

'What I like the most is to see how times have changed. Years ago, in the film industry and show business, there used to be only men. I used to feel bad about why girls were not treated equally. Now things have changed all over the world, specially in India.

'The way girls are coming up, taking charge, holding situations, calling the shots... just at the age of 23, Rhea made the whole film. I am very happy not only for Sonam and Rhea, I feel happy for all girls,' said Anil, 50.

Even Cyrus and Arunoday feel it is a promising trend.

'It was great fun having so many women on the sets! There was constant banter and they (women) used to keep huddling together. The best part was there was always some interesting food with them. Jokes apart, women today are really smart and they are good at what they do. As long as they know the craft, nothing else matters,' said funnyman Cyrus.

Arunoday agreed, but rued that female actors in Bollywood have nothing much to do once they reach a certain age.

'Shooting for 'Aisha' was an ideal world where women were in charge. We don't get to see so many examples like that in the industry and, more than that, there should be better roles for them,' said the two-film old actor.

'It's sad that women are still seen as an object of a man's desire in most Bollywood films. I wish Bollywood creates more space for real cinema. Look at Meryl Streep, she can still act at 61, but for our veteran actresses, there are no roles. It's really sad,' he added.

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