When Kangana Ranaut, playing a simple looking but tough Haryanvi Kusum has taken 6 pheras in ‘Tanu weds Manu Returns’ with Manu she stops and tells him “Decide now whether you want to get married to me. I am an athlete either -I lose or I win but I won’t take a consolation prize”. The dialogue has come to symbolize the confidence and dignity of the Indian woman of the 21 st century who can take such a vital decision about her life without getting sentimental. She breaks down in her own room after this is another matter but there is no public show of emotion. That set me thinking. Is this the best last line spoken by a woman in Bollywood involved in a triangle of hearts? Probably the best but definitely this is not the first time that Bollywood has taken the lead in showing the way to society. I think I can start this story with ‘Sangam’ made in the eighties by the great showman Raj Kapoor. The film is a love triangle starring Raj Kapoor, Rajendra Kapoor and Vyjayanthimala. Both the friends are in love with her but while Raj Kapoor is an extrovert Rajendra Kumar is unable to communicate his feelings. The film has a dramatic ending where both of them are willing to sacrifice their love for friendship. But Vyjayanthimala will not take this. She bursts out telling them that men had always taken women for granted. “Both of you are ready to give me up for the other but does anyone care for my feelings.” This delicate issue could not be resolved in any other manner at that time and Rajendra Kumar ultimately puts a gun to his temple to make the ultimate sacrifice. Yet another milestone to my memory is the 1979 Basu Bhattacharya directed ‘Griha Pravesh’. This deeply moving film shows the hero Sanjeev Kumar getting attracted to a young Sarika while his wife Sharmila tries to gloss over the issue till one day he brings Sarika home. Instead of showing any tantrums, Sharmila treats her with all respect and finally tells a gaping Sanjeev Kumar ,“She is very beautiful” and then comes the unkindest cut of all,” Main tumhe chor doongi.” In 1982 came the Mahesh Bhatt directed earth-shaking ‘Arth’ of the “Tum Itna jo Muskura Rahe Ho” fame. Here, a much married Kulbhushan Kharbanda is besotted by a socialite Smita Patil leaving a nervous and vulnerable wife Shabana shivering pleading with Smita to leave her husband alone to no avail. In the climax Kulbhushan realizes that Smita is a nervous wreck and wants to return to Shabana to start life afresh. The film remains milestone because Shabana speaks up for the entire womanhood when she asks him point blank “Tell me, if I had done the same would you accept me back.” Being a Mahesh Bhatt film the hero is brutally honest and says “No”. And that is also the answer to his question!
By Deepshikha Singh