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By Sindhu

Wedding bells denoted the death-knell for acting for beautiful actresses. Film world once considered marriage as the full stop for the acting careers of beauties.  However, in Bollywood things are changing. Several actresses are making a strong comeback to films post their marriage. While Karisma Kapoor will be seen in multiple avatars in Vikram Bhatt’s Dangerous Ishq, Madhuri Dixit will be seen in Dedh Ishqiya and Gulab Gang. Manisha Koirala will be doing a full-fledged role in the horror flick Bhhooo and Sridevi is busy with her role in English Vinglish. Raveena Tandon is all set to woo the audience as heroine in Shobhna’s 7 Nights. Juhi Chawla, who decided to stay put after marriage will be seen in the film, Son of Sardar.

While this is the state of affairs in Hindi, Kollywood is yet to wake up and give the married actresses their due. While some of them like Jothika and Shalini decided to opt out, there are others who wanted to give it a try only to end up doing supporting roles. Simran is the best example in the recent times. Soon we will see actress Meena doing a sister’s act in the remake Sattam Oru Iruttarai, an Ilayathalapathy Vijay’s production.  Actresses Roja, Nadia Moidu, Kushboo and Radhika are no exceptions to this. We also hear that actresses Manthra, Vanitha Vijayakumar and Rambha are waiting for a second innings.

So, what makes our married actresses unfit for heroine roles? According to Swati Amar, a film aficionado and a widely travelled writer, the issue lies in the mental block of our people. She says, “Southern film industry is male dominated and along with the audience, the film world also thinks that a woman’s life begins and ends with marriage.  Most of the heroines also want to focus on family and adhere to the traditional outlook. Pointing out at the bold roles Aishwarya Rai did after her marriage, she says that our heroines are not daring to experiment with such roles with conviction.

A famous director who does not want to be named, points out two reasons for this situation.  He says, “South has always been hesitant to accept married women as heroines. Not only the audience but also the film makers and crew feel that seeing married women as glamour quotient is wrong. Even if the director wants to cast a married actress, starting from the discussion stage to the producer to the actor, getting a go word for the same is almost impossible. 

He goes on to add that to sustain as a heroine, one has to be fit and beautiful. “Here, married heroines are not ready to live up to the challenge and hence end up putting on weight and losing shape,” he says. 

Though Tamil cinema is making waves in the National Awards scene and creating global audience for songs like Kolavery, it seems the experiments end there.

One of the film critics is of the opinion that Tamil cinema still revolves around a brave hero, a young heroine and a wicked villain. “The settings may change, but the basic nature of the characters remains the same. Most people look at a film as another world, a world that is perfect in every manner possible and when a heroine is married in real life, it becomes hard for them to ignore the fact and look at her as another character. It’s a problem of perception, “he sums up.

Ashok Lodha, a film financier agrees and says, “Films are male-centric and the business is based on the value of the hero. However, I will not hesitate to finance for a film, even if it has a married actress in the lead. What I will be looking for will be the potential of the film to appeal the audience and hence do the business.”

All said and done, the question remains. Though limited, daring experiments are being carried out in films in other regions. When is Kollywood going to come up with scripts and stories keeping our actresses in mind?

When married actresses of Bollywood ruled the mini screen by appearing in television commercials and endorsing products, Kollywood took a cue and some of the married actresses got into the advertisement scene.

Likewise, let’s us hope that soon we will give our married actresses their due by coming up with films for them.

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