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Spilling Bollywood’s Koffee Beans!


Pictured (left to right): Karan Johar, Samantha Prabhu, Akshay Kumar



In the latest season of Koffee with Karan when Akshay Kumar was shown a pan-India Ormax survey, he was the only Hindi film actor ranking at number five in the top ten (the rest being Telegu/Tamil actors). He spoke with assurance and honesty when asked what the Hindi film industry lacks that results in such a tipped balance. “In our Hindi cinema, actors are scared of doing two heroes, three heroes films. I don't know why and I don't think that happens in the South.” The conversation trickled further when Karan Johar joined in, saying that, as a producer, it is becoming challenging to cast two actors as leads. And both men went on to share how it was impossible to get the actors on board for a two-hero film in a recent movie they produced together. Further discussion and analysis of the situation revealed insecurity as the leading cause of this hesitance, as actors expect there to be one-upmanship in a two-hero film that will negatively impact their stardom, and they might feel as though they cannot own the movie entirely.


On hearing all this, Samantha Prabhu counters with an argument that puts the Bollywood culture in perspective. She says, “you would think the women would have this problem, but the women are all working together!” To this, Johar points out a movie directed by Farhan Akhtar with Katrina Kaif, Alia Bhatt, and Priyanka Chopra starring together, while Akshay Kumar mentions his film Mission Mangal (2019), which starred five actresses, further mentioning that they would eat together and it was a beautiful experience overall.


This dialogue between one of the biggest producers in Bollywood, one of the biggest Hindi film superstars, and the number one pan-India actress (according to the Ormax survey), conveys a lot more depth than what might be intended on a fun-loving show like Koffee with Karan, which is all about the latest Bollywood spice.


Since its inception, Bollywood has been the playground for female rivalry. Given the infamous rifts between Raveena Tandon and Karishma Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit and Sri Devi, and dating back to Zeenat Aman and Parveen Bibi, the list goes on. However, we have recently seen a shift that actresses are more than ready to put their personal rifts aside to work together and replace rivalry with healthy and professional competition. Some have even become great friends, like Katrina Kaif and Alia Bhatt, and Jhanvi Kapoor and Sara Ali Khan. These examples put the old Bollywood myth to shame; actresses cannot be friends with their contemporaries.


While most of the antagonism once stemmed from the media that pitted actresses against each other, I think for the actresses as well as the audience, these blossoming friendships are a breath of fresh air. They positively shape society’s view on how competing women can act towards one another and are an exemplary role model for young girls. As perspectives are majorly influenced by media, this shift in one of the largest media and film industries is bound to have domino effects in society and serve as an example for other industries like Lollywood. It is the age of adaptability and accepting change, and we can be hopeful for more positive examples of women friendships in the same field to look up to in the future.


The conversation on the show also highlights that men have adopted the insecurity now and refuse to work together in fear of losing their stardom. Yet again, another hurdle for the Bollywood film industry, which, hopefully, they will be able to overcome in the coming years.

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Hi Maryam!

Your blog was such a fresh read! It reminds me of a film "Veere Di Wedding" which stars Kareena Kapoor Khan and Sonam Kapoor Ahuja, with Swara Bhaskar and Shikha Talsania, all in lead roles as four friends who're attending a wedding, It is one of the few films that actually featured 4 women in lead roles simultaneously and the women worked together harmoniously to make the film happen. Moreover, I'd like to add that the film was supposed to start shooting in 2016, but was actually delayed for nine months due to Kareena Kapoor's pregnancy. The female director asked her to "take care, get well, and come back to the film when she's ready", and the other…


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Respondendo a

Thank you for your comment Aimen!


Yes!! I'm absolutely loving this female camaraderie on and off screen. Veere Di Wedding is such an amazing example of a film that shows that. I'm really happy that the dynamic has changed and is changing and these role models are there now for young girls to learn from. Living in a society that thrives on women competing with women, whether its in terms of beauty or men, or anything else for that matter that capitalism can benefit from, seeing superstars like Kareena Kapoor Khan setting the precedent for female friendships is definitely a welcome change!

Curtir

This article was a really refreshing read. It talks about so many important themes found across Bollywood. But the one that resonated with me most was about competition among females and insecurity and how you mentioned men taking on the insecurity.


I think that largely, the necessary rift among leading ladies has reduced over time. Girl-power, and neo-liberal feminist rhetoric trickling down to the Global South has had its effect evidently. However, I say this with the caveat that we are overstating the change. Yes, there are a lot of female friendships in Bollywood now. But does that necessarily mean that insecurities and excessive competition have finished among the leading ladies of Bollywood?


In the wave of new entrants to…


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Respondendo a

Hey, thank you for raising the point about star kids. Yes, they may band together because they've either grown up together or know the difficulties that are part and parcel of being a star kid. It is in no way an easy ride, given you've technically been under media scrutiny as far as you can remember; a case in point is Taimur Ali Khan. However, some female friendships do not stem from childhood and are between non-star kids. An example is Katrina Kaif and Alia Bhatt, who've become friends in the last 4-5 years, and I mean, if you think about it, they were the least likely women to become friends, no? One is a recent ex of the other's…

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