If Dear Zindagi were to be remade in Tamil, who can be the perfect fit for Alia Bhatt here? The Tamil film market is forever divided into urban and rural segments as if the rest of India is made up of just metro-cities and Hindi films release just in multiplexes.
Why is it ‘ok’ to have bold, urban characters as leads only in a Hindi film which runs to full-house outside of Mumbai or overseas as well? It’s not just the women we have to search for to play reflective-of-the-times-we-live-in roles in Tamil (with all due respect to Trisha and Nayanthara) but we also need writers and directors who have to give them such scripts.
Karthik Subburaj broke all clichés with Iraivi but the film caused so much uproar because he addressed the kalaachaaram and inequality business when he had SJ Suryah say those lines in the climax.
But how much of the feminine psyche is Tamil cinema willing to explore anyway? Dear Zindagi has Alia being non-committal about her men, having personality issues to resolve with her parents and she explores equations with more than one ‘chair’ to see what fits her best. Please watch the film to understand this ‘chair-metaphor’.
Will a Tamil film take-on such a heroine without having to pander to the ‘moral-police’? A man-woman relationship here has to be either red or green — can it just be a yellow line as explained by director Shankar in Indian (1996)? Largely a different role for a heroine would mean she is either a widow who is given life to by the hero or she has to be the bubbly type who hankers after him or she performs stunts in a khaki uniform.
These stereotypes were broken with Revathy’s Divya in Mouna Raagam (1986) who tells her husband she needs a divorce because she nurses a broken heart from her first love. Another breaking-away role went to Jyothika in Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu (2006) when she explores complex romance with a police officer after her turbulent divorce with a baby girl in-hand.
But apart from a handful of filmmakers most of the so-called non-cliche roles are either part-villainous or part-glorified and seldom true-to-life. Why is the burden of moral-virtue (karpu) relegated only to the uterus? If a guy dates many girls he is a dude and if the girl evens speaks of a previous boyfriend (which will happen only in a city-based film) then (a) She’s labelled fast and she’s obviously NOT the heroine (b) If the heroine does have a past, her ex either dies or their relationship would be so sanctimonious that she can now fully belong to the hero.
Of course filmmakers can write realistic roles for women based on today’s trends but which hero here will agree to do what Shah Rukh Khan did? But of course, he produces the film so the business aspect of a heroine-led film ensures it’s a hit already.