Ahead of Its Time, Yet Still Valuable: Female Protagonists & Guru Dutt's Vision

Ahead of Its Time, Yet Still Valuable: Female Protagonists & Guru Dutt's Vision

Building any kind of character can be difficult, but considering the history of Hindi cinema, it is obvious that developing strong female characters is not their strong suit.

Before the 'Bollywood supremacy' brigade charges, it must be made clear that this remark does not assert that Indian cinema has entirely failed to present us with motivating on-screen female heroines.

However, Hindi movies now being produced haven't quite worked out how to make a strong female character. Although certain characters have been written incredibly well, are they sufficient?

The situation for women in real life during the heyday of Bollywood was quite different from what it is today, and the personalities who were shown on television gave more focus to breaking down boundaries. Even while we now have a lot more freedom to create a powerful, badass female protagonist, we still occasionally opt to have them be overshadowed by the male protagonists.

However, one artist deserves special recognition for his extraordinary contribution to the portrayal of real female characters during a period when the concept was rarely known. And it would be an actor and director Guru Dutt.

The independent, fearless, and female leads in Dutt's films stand out for more reasons than just emphasizing the challenges that real-life artists encounter.

Even though they were viewed from the perspective of a male character, the movies did a fantastic job of conveying the changing nature of the modern world and the women who live in it. Guru Dutt's films are undoubtedly feminist, and this cannot be disputed.

Another fascinating component of his stories was the way he examined female characters under the constraints of conventional social systems. They questioned those customs and traditions internally.

One of his most well-known works, Mr. & Mrs. 55, was as avant-garde as it was at the time it was written. Even though the movie is about a young woman who gets married to increase her financial security, it has a strong message about not focusing on one component of a person's personality.

Without a doubt, Seeta Devi, played by Lalita Pawar, is one of the earliest female characters we saw in the cinema, even though she had some shortcomings. The audience must have thought about her view on marriage and the idea that women shouldn't be forced into it at all costs.

When we talk about Pyaasa, another timeless film, it showed us a sex worker who isn't looking for a savior in her life. Vijay, the primary character, is kept on edge by Gulaabo, who is competent and brash.

Fascinatingly, Guru Dutt's plot nevertheless emphasized the necessity of women's labor in producing ideal citizens. Even the job of prostitutes is acknowledged as a necessity for their livelihood rather than as a personal moral shortcoming. In addition, happily, the social-patriarchal state of ethics is absent from Dutt's films.

The idea of women participating equally in social upheaval was one of the pillars of Dutt's vision for a progressive country. And his works made exactly that clear. Geeta Bali performed the lead part of Nisha, a fierce princess who takes on a Portuguese slave ship to become a pirate king and rebel, in one of his early works.

In Bollywood, where it is still challenging to show women as the primary characters rather than just as arm candy in action flicks, Baaz seemed to be much ahead of his time. This particular film depicts a culture in which the roles women perform in society define new nationalist acting techniques.

Guru Dutt later produced Kaagaz Ke Phool, a standout picture that was released as the 1960s drew near and featured the actor as a heartbroken film director. The movie's female lead, Shanti, is portrayed by Waheeda Rahman. She comes into his life during a particularly trying period, but she plays more of a supporting role than a "savior" in the narrative. She is demonstrated to be the one who manages their relationship and to be a strong, ambitious lady.

And unfortunately for Hindi cinema, Dutt never again took the helm after this particular movie. The classic films created by outstanding aesthetic taste and vision to see beyond the appearance can be looked to for a deeper grasp of how to construct a female lead.

Guru Dutt's films continue to have an impact on filmmakers and excite public interest in similar artistic qualities. Even though he will never be matched, we may nevertheless use his works as a barometer toward a better and more impressive cinema. 

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