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India Insight | Women in New Roles

Despite its melodrama, Bollywood is quite revealing in its portrayal of the metamorphosis of the Indian woman.

The 50s and 60s saw women portrayed as good and evil, the heroine and vamp. Heroines were pure, silent pillars of strength, self-sacrificing lambs. They were the respectful daughters, dutiful wives and loving mothers. In contrast, vamps were sexually expressive, wore revealing clothes, smoked and drank. True love and happiness eluded them.

Then came economic liberalization and the lines blurred between the two stereotypes. Today’s Bollywood heroine uses her sexuality to get ahead, plot revenge, go alone on her honeymoon and steal her dad’s money.

But unlike Bollywood, most brands continue portraying women as defined by their relationships. It’s time to acknowledge and celebrate women’s independence and depth of character (artful negotiator, ambitious professional, tiger mom, hedonist) and even help them negotiate their new roles successfully.

Rasika Fernandes

Vice President Planning

Ogilvy & Mather