When women played key roles in Bollywood films
Taking a look at the spate of films where actresses might just pip their male counterparts in the opening credits
When Shah Rukh Khan’s film Chennai Express was up for release, the actor made it loud and clear that the opening credits in all his films would now carry the name of his leading lady before his own.
With women characters no longer being relegated to the background, this gesture assumes more significance today. Even as women-centric films multiply manifold and leading actresses play meatier roles, it’s apt that their names gain prominence in the opening credits. All of which begs the question: will other filmmakers and actors follow SRK’s cue?
HitList throws light on some upcoming films where the actresses play key roles. Whether or not they will be assigned similar importance in the opening credits remains to be seen...
Director: Ali Abbas Zafar
Female quotient: The promos tell us that this action film hinges on the charisma of macho duo Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor. However, there’s considerable room for Priyanka Chopra to wow the audiences as well.
Director: Soumik Sen
Female quotient: Dedh Ishqiya saw Madhuri Dixit and Huma Qureshi vie for attention against the likes of Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi. But in Gulaab Gang, it’s all about womanpower as Madhuri and Huma team up with Juhi Chawla.
Untitled Mary Kom biopic
Director: Omung Kumar
Female quotient: Priyanka Chopra will be playing celebrated boxer MC Mary Kom in this biopic. With the film tracing Mary’s rise, PeeCee should be in every frame of this film.
Director: Vikas Bahl
Female quotient: The film is centred around a Punjabi character that will be portrayed by Kangna Ranaut. Rajkummar Rao (of Shahid fame) is starring opposite her. It wouldn’t be a mistake to label this film as women-centric.
Director: Indra Kumar
Female quotient: Evergreen actress Rekha is now planning a comeback along with Randhir Kapoor. The cast also has Sharman Joshi in it; but with Rekha leading the way, nothing else matters now, does it?
Director: Habib Faisal
Female quotient: This romantic comedy is Aditya Roy Kapur’s sixth feature film and Parineeti Chopra’s fifth cinematic outing. But in the glamour stakes, the latter has fared much better and hence, she might just beat him to it in their film’s opening credits.
Director: Sai Kabir
Female quotient: Kangna Ranaut seems to have made up her mind to take on only character-driven projects. This film will have her in a never-seen-before role and it has newcomer Vir Das cast opposite her.
Director: Nupur Asthana
Female quotient: Ayushmann Khurrana’s first and second films saw him paired opposite fellow-newbies (Yami Gautam and Pooja Salvi respectively) but this one is different. In this romcom, he stars opposite Sonam Kapoor, an actress who is ‘senior’ to him. We’ll have to wait to know more about their roles though.
Director: Navdeep Singh
Female quotient: This film faced some problems during its casting but now Anushka Sharma has been finalised for the project. Moreover, the actress, upon seeing the film’s potential, has turned producer too. With Neil Bhoopalam (of TV show 24 fame) sharing screen space with her, this film should be touted as Anushka’s baby all the way.
'Finding Fanny Fernandes'
Director: Homi Adjania
Female quotient: Although the titular character will be played by Anjali Patil, Deepika Padukone is expected to enjoy maximum screen time in this one. The ensemble cast includes veterans like Naseeruddin Shah, Pankaj Kapur and Dimple Kapadia, and younger actors such as Arjun Kapoor. Insiders say that Dippy will steal this show.
Lessons from the past
Instances where actresses have taken precedence over their male colleagues in a film’s credits...
>> Nargis’s name appeared before Sunil Dutt and Rajendra Kumar in the opening credits for Mother India (1957).
>> Rajesh Khanna’s name followed that of Meena Kumari in the opening credits for Dushman (1971), while Amitabh Bachchan’s name appeared after Mala Sinha’s in the credits for the film Sanjog (also made in 1971).
>> Farooque Shaikh took a backseat in the credit titles of Umrao Jaan (1981) as the film focussed on Rekha’s character.
>> Smita Patil and Shabana Azmi, both of whom were known for their predeliction for parallel cinema, always got prominence in the film’s credits. Mandi, for instance, was a film where the duo outshone their male counterparts.