In the time and age when the majority of leading men of the 90s era are bombing at the box office, their female counterparts are ruling the OTT space with thought-provoking story plots and most importantly portraying their age in the most unapologetic way possible.
In ’Fame Game’, we saw how flawless Madhuri Dixit was as Anamika Anand, a global superstar who suddenly vanishes without a trace, and her new OTT release ‘Maja Ma’ is also making headlines for her strong performance as Pallavi Patel, a middle-class woman whose life is turned upside down due to a secret she kept hidden.
Madhuri, who married a cardiovascular surgeon based in Denver, USA, during the peak of her career and shifted to the US, feels fortunate to be doing the kind of roles she wanted to do since her return.
“I couldn’t have asked for more. I enjoyed doing the ‘Fame Game’ and I enjoyed working on this movie as well,” she says and adds that “What is heartening is that the kind of scripts being written now for women are not caricatures or they are not either victims or avengers. I think finally women are people, they are human in movies and that is what is wonderful about the new writers. It’s a great time for a woman in films.”
‘Maja Ma’ is Prime Video’s First Indian Amazon Original Movie and Anand Tiwari’s directorial project also stars Gajraj Rao, Ritwik Bhowmik, Barkha Singha and Srishti Srivastava in other important characters.
Sonali Bendre is another star who recently made her OTT debut with 'The Broken News'. Her role as Amina Quereshi in a story plot that depicts the rivalry between two Indian news channels based in Mumbai was the focal point. The actor feels that one of the biggest constraints initially as a female actor was how they were given roles till a certain age.
“As a 90s female actor I would say that yes this kind of opportunity has never existed for us and I am so enjoying the fact that these opportunities are there,” says Sonali, who rose to prominence in 90s with her roles in 'Major Saab', ‘Hum Saath Saath Hai’, ‘Sarfarosh’ and ‘Diljale’.
Sonali says that she is happy that female actors are getting opportunities to portray different kinds of roles. “We are getting opportunities to portray our age which was one of the biggest constraints earlier because you could only be acting till a certain age and after which the roles were just never written. Now those roles are being written and there is a place where they can be showcased,” she says.
The actor credits the coming of multiplexes and now OTT for this change. “It has kind of given it a wider frame. I also always felt that as an actor just when as you grow, and experience, life teaches you so much, and just when you would reach a space where you thought you were beginning to understand your art form is when the work stopped. Now the fact that you have lived a life and you had the experience which can be used in an art form for different roles is just amazing and I am really enjoying this space,” she says.
For Raveena Tandon too, who gave an intriguing performance in ‘Aranyak’ and won hearts, there have been plenty of changes in the industry and a lot of them are for the better.
“I have always been enjoying my work. Also, for content-based films and women-centric ones, OTT platforms are great. The representation of women on screen has taken a turn with the emergence of OTT platforms,” she says.
Ayesha Jhulka feels no different.
“I have just started working again and have enjoyed facing the camera thoroughly,” she says and adds that as a society, we have evolved.
“Patriarchy is a passé now. OTT playing the catalytic role portrays feminist narratives or an equal female existence in our scheme of things. It’s heartening to know that woman-centric stories are well-received by audiences. I’m more than happy that there’s a recall value of the female actors from back then and the appreciation of the viewers is overwhelming. OTT has given new stardom to many actors and its consumption has led to a huge demand for actors like us. A welcome change indeed,” she sums up.
With “Hush Hush”, which has an all-female cast, the 50-year-old moved away from her girl next door image obtained after blockbuster hits “Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar” and “Khiladi”.