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The beautiful Indian heroine!

By Ritam Banati | Last Updated: Saturday, July 17, 2010 - 13:36
Ritam Banati
Take my word

I have been fascinated by the actresses of yore and believe till date that they stand unparalleled in the domain of Indian cinema.

Madhubala’s captivating smile, naivety in Meena Kumari’s voice and the child-like poise in Suraiya’s demeanour is quite unmatchable.

What is striking about old Hindi films is the spontaneous flow of effervescent figures on screen with the instinctive power of rehearsed words that naturally flow from painted mouths.

The music that streams from mere dialogues and the tender rhythm of those dancing footsteps are a stress buster. The easy surge of words that comes pouring into the soul to create yet another song inside is something whose strength one does not find in the contemporary age.

Neither can one perceive the same audacity today with which Durga Khote once enacted her role of Jhansi ki Rani.

A comparison between the first lady of the Indian screen-Devika Rani with the one burning ember today-Katrina Kaif is actually unspeakable.

The doe-eyed ravishing beauty of the Black & White age-Madhubala and the 90s sensation Madhuri Dixit were compared for their similar smiles. Madhuri’s vibrant beam seemed similar to the allure of the charming one.

The Indian cinema has been graced by oodles of glamour from the very beginning. The pertinent difference between then and now is a clichéd statement. It is the difference between simplicity and boldness.

But the point that often goes amiss is that the yesteryear Indian heroine had to break free from social conventions to be able to carve a niche. Thus, while contemporary heroines are considered bold in reel life, the timeless beauties had to show the same bravado in real life.

A woman needed more substance to break the chains of tradition in the past than now. Though for a few Black & White era Indian actresses making a debut was not that tough, acting in films was still quite a modern concept in India of that time.

The eyes of the soul used to capture the essence of colour even in the Black & White hue of the old films. What entered the heart was a mixture of all seven shades of a rainbow.

But thronging cinema halls today to watch the latest movies and laughing with full blown gullets at romantic comedies is far from ruled out. Being stupefied by Ash’s heavenly face or awed by Sushmita’s elegant grace is a reality too. The princess-like Kat, who is like the wind that carries hearts away also leaves me spell bound.

A reflection of a pretty face is not all that mirrors the soul of an actress. The evolution of the heroine has also seen progression in dance forms as well as in new acting skills. The covertly feminine movements of Madhubala in the song “Aayee ye meherbann…” and the marketing of sexy appeal by Madhuri in the “Dhak Dhak...” number are both in tune with social aptitude of the two eras.

In truth, moments spent in creative appreciation of cinematic beauty that really revolves around the evergreen Indian heroine seem to appease some clandestine sentiments, whose overt expression is rendered motionless by fetters of tradition.

Of course, the meaning of an actress transcends beauty. But the larger than life appeal of the image of a woman draped by the colours of glamour reverberates on the silverscreen and makes me fade into a blissful vacuum. Cinematic experience is starred by the twinkle of almond-shaped eyes, coloured by the rosiness of petal smooth cheeks and stretched like the smile of pearly white teeth.

The difference between yesterday and today may lie in the importance of a graceful face earlier and the chiselled face and figure of a modern starlet. The resplendent aura of aesthetic appeal has always been significant in making of the complete Indian heroine without whom any movie is incomplete.

First Published: Saturday, July 17, 2010 - 13:36

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