When Noshto Nir’s Charulata gazed at the world with her vintage binoculars and romanced by heart with her brother-in-law, the world stared stunned. While Ray’s Bimala surpassed marital fringes and romanced her husband’s friend- the radical Sandip, there were murmurs and hushed voices during those trivial times of post-partition effect in the early 20th century when women were supposed to remain behind curtains and indulge in household chores. Decades later with the leap of generation and faith, we clapped and ah-ed when Hermione Granger punched Draco Malfoy, for teasing her friends.
From the renaissance women to modern day women, there has been a gradual drift of the portrayal of nature’s softer creation from those meek beings to brave hearts. We cried out our hearts as post-independence mother Radha shoots Birju, in Mahboob’s Mother India. Women, have always been a subject of integral interest for literature and the motion pictures. Be it Shakespeare or Jhumpa Lahiri, Satyajit Ray or Hitchcock, Prem Chand or Tagore, Sheldon or Rowling; women have always been the substantial subject for authors and filmmakers alike.
Even before what we consider the renaissance times, literature has always revolved greatly around the role of women. Whether it was Ved Vyas’ Draupadi and Kunti or Valmiki’s Sita and Kaikeyi. Women with a variety of shades and hue, have been a part of our lives through literature, folklores and fables since times immemorial. And they are the women, we remember every day. Women for their worth. Women for their gray shades. Valimiki’s Sita or Surpanakha, Rowling’s Hermione or Lily Potter, Sheldon’s sexual assault victim- Ashley Patterson or Tagore’s Sucharita, Austen’s Fanny Price or Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay’s Indira; every women, as we might notice have had a strong impact on the society and culture with the characters that they were infused into. While some set moral standards with their compassion and sacrifice, the others turned inspirations with their bravery and grit whereas a few stupefied us with their darker shades of the conscience.
As is widely said that women have been portrayed as timid beings in ancient literature and motion pictures; how can we ever forget a Phyliis Dietrichson challenging her fidelity for the sake of wealth! Can we ever not remember Birju’s mother, Radha shooting him, all for the virtuousness in her and rise to become India’s evergreen Mother!
Women have been forever, strong and brave, thanks to the patriarchal society that never recognized their stronger side of the conscience. Had they not been strong, in literature, movies and society; had we ever got the gutsy Sita in the Ramayana, the moral and hungry-for-enlightenment Sucharita in Tagore’s Gora or the hard working sales-girl Aarti in Ray’s Mahanagar. They were forever there. The bold and the beautiful. In our folklores, in our society, in our hearts.
With the advent of modern times, and the die-hard disposal attitude of the patriarchal society, have we accepted women as the ones with guts and a brave heart? We have seen them getting ripped by heart and soul and yet fight back to regain their esteem. We have them as a part of our everyday lives. As that doting mother, as that innocent sister, as that multi tasking wife, as the company CEO who still makes cheese omlettes for her son while checking out the stock market values on her Tab, that lady who earns her family the bread by being a bus-conductor, that young girl who wakes up to provide police statements right after being sexually assaulted. If women were meek anytime, they were so in the minds of the stereo type society. The society that has forever fidgeted to grant women the status she deserves- all because of her physical constraints! But are women genuinely weak physically? If they had been so, they could not have nurtured life within them for 270 days! They could not have taken rigorous physical and trainings to be navy officers or run planes!
Realistic literature and motion pictures have always focused on their stronger conscience. Women, who dared to challenge societal restrictions, surpass superstitious rituals and rise as inspiration for generations, and at the same time; be moral and ethical in their approach towards life. Had they not been their braver selves, we would never have had an Aarti who went door-to-door to sell goods for money or a Ritwik Ghatak’s Neeta who smilingly sacrificed her love for her sister. Mother India Radha would have been a distant dream and Gora would never have achieved his ultimate spiritual awakening without Sucharita’s aide.
Their role has been the same since ages- to take control, when situations get worse. Like Christie’s Miss Marple solving crime mysteries, like Sheldon’s Diane Stevens and Kelly Harris finding out their husbands’ killers. Like Rowling’s Hermione, Lily and Ginny with their grit and affection. Like the Pari(s) of Hosseini who went beyond capabilities to quench their thirst for the ultimate truth of their identity.
Woman shall always be that goddess. The goddess of virtue, the goddess of truth, the inspiration of bravery! It’s more in our conscience than in our society where we need to give women their deserved recognition. It is an irony that despite the overwhelming contribution, women forever remained anonymous or rather kept so deliberately. It’s time to introspect.
Assimilated by: Deblina Halder