Women in Bhumika vs Mirch Masala

For my open blog post, I wanted to talk about the role of women within the Bollywood films we have seen in our class thus far. Take, for example, the differences in the roles of the women in the film Bhumika versus the film Mirch Masala. In Bhumika, Usha is forced into marrying Keshav, only to find herself unhappy. She is an actress and has affairs with her fellow actors and even with some producers. Sonbai, the lead female character in Mirch Masala, is quite the opposite of Usha. It is not clear whether she is in an arranged marriage to her husband or not, but she does remain faithful to him even while he is living in a different city for work. The subedar wants to force Sonbai to sleep with him, but she refuses as she is already married.

Though the storylines of these two films are seemingly unrelated, the roles the women play work nicely with one another. Why is it that Usha would marry Keshav if she did not want to? Her family? Financial stability? Because he was her manager? She clearly knew before marrying him that she would be unhappy, but went through with the marriage and even had a baby daughter with him. She was submissive to him in almost every way, except for sexually. Her affairs eventually caused her to leave Keshav only to marry another man who would oppress her in similar ways that Keshav did.

Sonbai is an extremely encouraging lead female character in Mirch Masala. She remains faithful to her husband so much so that even when the subedar, a man in a position of high authority, wants to sleep with her, she resists him. As she resists, she enlists the help of the women and her “uncle” in the spice factory that is in their village. She stays locked in the factory to avoid the wrath of the subedar, though some might contend that she just sleep with the subedar in order for him to essentially leave her alone. The women of the factory eventually help her to “defeat” the subedar and remain faithful to her husband.

These films show the opposite roles of two women in Bollywood films. These films were made about 10 years apart, but had the same female lead character. Both movies are good examples of the extremes of the roles of the woman in films.

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