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
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
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.

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
    Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

    Marian Keyes

    The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

    Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

    Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
    Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

    Rodgers fights for his reputation

    Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick