Big 3-0 no longer a no-no for Bollywood actresses

Bollywood actresses are refusing to bow to traditional pressures of marriage and family, with a new film on the subject claiming the change in attitude reflects wider shifts in Indian society.

"Turning 30", starring Purab Kohli and Gul Panag, follows a character who discovers that the end of her 20s, the loss of her job and boyfriend need not be the end of the world.

Panag said the film, released last month, reflected changes in urban India, as the country's economy expands and shakes up traditional roles and demographics in society.

"There is definitely a change happening," she told reporters recently. "I feel audiences will be able to connect instantly with the film because you see many women around you today who are independently minded."

Successful women aren't hard to find in India.

They include President Prathiba Patil, speaker of the lower house of parliament, Meira Kumar, and the head of the Congress-led government, Sonia Gandhi. Many women are at the helm of corporate giants.

Official figures suggest that women more than doubled their presence in India's top engineering colleges in the last decade, with enrolment up in subjects from management to medicine.

In Bollywood, 30-something actresses like Kareena Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Rani Mukherjee, Shilpa Shetty and Preity Zinta all enjoy huge profiles.

That is a far cry from the recent past, where an actress often found that leading roles as the winsome love interest dried up once she got married in real life or hit 30 and she was relegated to play elder sisters or aunts.

"Turning 30" director Alankrita Srivastava said her film - which one reviewer said appeared to have been influenced by "Bridget Jones's Diary" and "Sex and the City" - reflected a new breed of urban woman in India.

"The new India has a new 30s woman. She's warm, she's sexy, she's sassy. She has broken the glass ceiling, or is breaking it," she wrote in the Indian Express newspaper.

"She's funny, she's vulnerable, she can beat any man hollow at anything under the sun. She loves herself, and she loves life. India is changing, and today's independent 30 something woman is here to live life fully. On her own terms."

But though Bollywood's women, with their designer outfits and cosmopolitan outlook, are forging their own paths, even they are not immune from traditional pressures.

Thirty-year-old Kareena Kapoor, for example, is often asked when she and long-term, live-in boyfriend Saif Ali Khan will marry and whether she will continue acting.

Aishwarya Rai, 37, a former Miss World turned actress who married actor Abhishek Bachchan in 2007, has had to endure gossip about when they will have children.

"Till this day many girls are being asked questions that why they are not married even after reaching 30," said Srivastava.

"But there is a slow change happening today and many girls just don't want to get hitched for the sake of getting hitched."

Her film, she says, "talks about all those issues".

For her part, Panag, 34, believes "the days of living out borrowed dreams are gone."

"I think we're finally learning to breathe a little for ourselves. And it's a great start," she said.

For sure, India has a long way to go until women are fully emancipated.

Activists say more needs to be done to tackle crimes against women, like domestic violence, sexual harassment and discrimination as well as improve women's health and family planning, especially in rural areas.

But Srivastava says empowerment has begun.

"Things are changing more in urban society for women but to change the situation overall it will take more time. But there has been definite progress in the last decade."

Arts and Entertainment
Kathy (Sally Lindsay) in Ordinary Lies
tvReview: The seemingly dull Kathy proves her life is anything but a snoozefest
Arts and Entertainment

Listen to his collaboration with Naughty Boy

music
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig in a scene from ‘Spectre’, released in the UK on 23 October

film
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap

film
Arts and Entertainment

Poldark review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Katie Brayben is nominated for Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Carole King in Beautiful

film
Arts and Entertainment
Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot has been cast to play Wonder Woman
film
News
Top Gear presenter James May appears to be struggling with his new-found free time
people
Arts and Entertainment
Kendrick Lamar at the Made in America Festival in Los Angeles last summer
music
Arts and Entertainment
'Marley & Me' with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Hamm (right) and John Slattery in the final series of Mad Men
tv
Arts and Entertainment
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
art
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
    How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
    11 best bedside tables

    11 best bedside tables

    It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
    Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

    Italy vs England player ratings

    Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
    Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

    Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat