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By Arun
Women have been mostly kept away from action – in cinema that is. It is rarer than ‘once in a blue moon’ that we get to see an actress involved in action sequences on screen. So, when it does happen, there is no effort wasted to get it noticed. Most people want to know how good (or bad) the lady faired while walking into a predominantly male dominion. And, surprisingly, most of who have attempted it have come off pretty well. When Sneha decided to do Bhavani IPS, it was more than just a surprise. The lady who had not even raised her voice in almost a decade of cinema, playing a cop was a bit hard to digest. But, it was no surprise that the film found its way into theaters on the weekend preceding Women’s Day and one believes that it was no mere coincidence.

Sneha’s willingness to go all the way with the action part of the film is indeed commendable. But, the film itself was a disappointing sojourn for all those who watched it. The only thing about the film that made it any different from all those ‘cop masalas’ over the decades is the fact that a woman was playing the lead. Except that, there was nothing at all which would distinguish the film from anything else of the same breed. The same old clichés about the police officer’s family (sister to be precise) being the target of the villain’s machinations, the revenge game etc. were all part of this movie, that was trying to pass off as a ‘different attempt’ under the cloak of Sneha’s presence in the lead role. But, the cloak also carried with it a dagger of all the clichés associated with police dramas of Tamil cinema. Now, this is not being spoken in the context of the Women’s day; but the rarest of rare occurrences of an actress doing on screen action certainly deserves a script that is at least marginally less cliché-ridden.

On that note, let us take a look at some of the action oriented roles played by actresses that come to mind. By default, Vyjayanthi IPS will be avoided from this discussion because it has been extensively talked about in the run up to the release of Bhavani IPS. Some have even ventured far enough to call Bhavani IPS as inspired or modeled upon Vyjayanthi IPS.

Hollywood has been consistent in its inclusion of women in all action movies. But, most of the time it is the slowest and loudest member of a group who often lands the rest into trouble. The instances where the ladies have actually got to be part of the main action are few. Angelina Jolie has had the luck to run into such roles more than once. But, looking at her performances, it is more than just luck that got her those roles; she definitely showed the guts that was required for high adrenaline action; matching Bradd Pitt step for step in Mr.& Mrs. Smith. Even the 2010 release SALT was testimony to the fact that she was willing to go any length to get an action sequence right. In fact, SALT was one of the few movies from last year which was praised for retaining raw intensity in its action sequences even in the animation/graphics era. Talking of raw and intense action sequences, one is reminded of Demi Moore’s commando act in GI Jane, which is as raw and intense as it can get with women handling action. Some might even like to point to Kill Bill and Resident Evil movies to show what the meaning of intensity is.

One is also not forgetting the cheesy/funky action offered in Charlie’s Angels or the acrobatic acts of Catherine Zeta Jones in Entrapment. Back home, one still remembers a few tough scenes done by Rekha in Khoon Bhari Maang which were reprised by Radhika in Tamil.

Given the right kind of support from the script, the event of an actress taking over action from actors can be interesting. But, just replacing actors with actresses does not make clichés pardonable or enjoyable.
Tags : Sneha, Vyjayanthi IPS, Bhavani IPS, SALT
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