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’Bad’ girls in filmi market

Wednesday 24 September 2003

Times News Network

Way back in 1975, Gulzar’s Mausam won accolades for the portrayal of the relationship between a father and a sex worker. Then came Shyam Bengal’s Mandi that dwelt on how a brothel becomes the bone of contention between political and business interests.

But since then Bollywood’s penchant for sex workers fizzled out only to be resurrected again by Madhur Bhandarkar’s portrayal of a bar dancer’s life in Chandni Bar. And now, making films with a sex worker as the protagonist has turned into a fixation in the industry.

Mind you, most of these films have also won awards too! Recent releases like Market and Mondo Meyer Upakhyan are based on the lives of women forced into the flesh trade.

Shilpa Shetty would have also played a sex-worker in Lal Batti had the film not got shelved due to logistic problems. Coming up is Sudhir Mishra’s Chameli. Though Mishra insists that his film isn’t about sex-workers per se, one can’t ignore the fact that the interest it has already generated is much because of how Kareena will deliver as a sex worker.

Even Tollywood is capitalising on this trend. Though Rituparna Sengupta’s forthcoming film Nashto Meyer Golpo isn’t supposed to be on sex-workers, the film’s name does tempt one to make the obvious connection.

Analysing this trend Bhandarkar said, "Bollywood loves to follow a formula. After Bhoot, a series of horror films were made. Then we had a number of gangster films".

"The subject of sex workers’ lives generates emotional interest universally. Remember films like Cabaret and Strip Tease? The audience know that brothels exist but don’t know much about the sex workers’ lives".

"Film-makers want to capitalise on this curiosity. Some watch these films to get titillated. But beyond a point, the films have to have a strong realistic backdrop and must touch the emotional chord. Otherwise, too much of such films will bomb too."

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