She’s the sultry seductress, the dumb bimbo, the attention seeker, the antithesis to the good Indian girl in Bollywood. She’s simply a distraction for the male hero, not the girl he’s supposed to end up with. That title still rests with the ‘good Indian girl’. She’s Lara from Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Tania from Student of the Year, and Veronica from Cocktail.
Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani
With her tiny hot pink shorts, her barely there top, and her stringy tie up shoes, Lara, played by Evelyn Sharma, is portrayed as dumb enough to believe that a random leaf forms part of the ‘agino motato’ plant, and that Deepika Padukone’s character, Naina is Ranbir Kapoor’s character, Bunny’s mother! Lara talks in a ‘baby voice’, is mean about Naina’s paranthe, and can’t help but throw herself at Bunny from the very moment she meets him. After all, she should have bought bananas instead of apples. Naina is the girl next door. She’s down to earth, smart, naive, shy, and she doesn’t drink (unless with her love interest in the movie, Bunny). Bunny says to Naina, “Tumhari jaisi ladki flirting ke liye nai, ishq ke liye bani hai”, meaning that girls like Lara are there to flirt with, and have a good time, but only girls like Naina can be loved.
Deepika Padukone’s character Veronica from Cocktail is never considered marriage material. For Gautam, Saif Ali Khan’s character, she is just a good time. Meera, played by Diana Penty, in her salwar suits and naivety is potential wife material. Meera is the traditional sati savitri, who leaves her home to come all the way to London, in order to get married to a man she’s never met. She doesn’t drink, she doesn’t smoke, she doesn’t wear short skirts, and she doesn’t have sex. She’s the good girl. Veronica is not. She gets drunk and she wears bikinis, and she even sleeps with Gautam. Surprise surprise: Gautam ditches Veronica for Meera. What’s actually sickening is that Meera goes behind her best friend Veronica’s back and gets together with Veronica’s boyfriend Gautam, but Veronica is the bad girl, the one who doesn’t deserve love, who never will. It’s worse when Veronica tries to gain Saif’s affections by trying to be the ‘good Indian girl’ that apparently all (Indian) men want, by wearing salwar kameez and learning how to cook biryani. But the likes of Veronica and Lara were doomed from the very beginning, as Indian men want their lady loves and wives to don traditional attire and know how to whip up paranthe and biryani, all the while keeping the house spic and span.
Student of the Year
Tania, from Student of the year, played by Sana Saeed, was a one dimensional character; all she did was flaunting her body in her barely-there clothes and continuously try to steal Alia Bhatt’s character, Shanaya’s boyfriend Rohan, who was played by Varun Dhawan.
The Laras from Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, the Veronicas from Cocktail, and the Tanias from Student of the Year are the quintessential ‘modern’ girls in Bollywood; only here the ‘modern’ girls are present to waylay the heroes. Lara is the flirt, the ‘faulty piece’ as Bunny himself says, she’s dim-witted, she’s sexual, and she doesn’t get the guy. Veronica is independent, unlike her ‘best friend’ Meera; she’s a fashion photographer, she’s warm hearted (she pretty much opens her home to a random girl she meets from India) and she’s trustworthy (of her ‘best friend’ and her boyfriend). But the miniskirt wearing, bar going, independent girls will always lose to the salwar kameez wearing, quiet girls, who know the status the men in their lives must occupy.
These crop top wearing girls are the ‘vain’ girls, the girls modelled only for jokes. They are portrayed as having no morals. They might be up for a ‘good time’ or ‘time pass’, but they are not the girls you would consider settling down with. Lara ends up unmarried and boyfriend-less; how much ever Veronica tries to get Saif to love her by trying to be the perfect Indian wife, he never can- her past will always remain a shadow. Tania, in school, was the head cheerleader, the flirt; 10 years later, when the estranged classmates meet, she’s the only girl who is not happily married, who has already had a divorce, on the prowl for a new husband. It’s almost implied that a girl like this will never be able to settle down, and her past would obstruct her from the same. She’s placed somewhere between the whore and the angel. Indian society, one which constantly revels in the concept of marriage, needs girls like these to be constant reminders to their daughters and their sisters, to not wear miniskirts and to never initiate sexual relations. This girl is a subtle warning, hidden in a joke.
By Aarushi Maheshwari