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
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Armie Hammer in the new film of ‘The Lone Ranger’

Arts and Entertainment

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
Arts and Entertainment
The audience aimed thousands of Apple’s product units at Taylor Swift throughout the show
musicReview: On stage her manner is natural, her command of space masterful
Arts and Entertainment
Channel 4 is reviving its Chris Evans-hosted Nineties hit TFI Friday

Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade (1989)

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
A Glastonbury reveller hides under an umbrella at the festival last year

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Miles Morales is to replace Peter Parker as the new Spider-Man

Arts and Entertainment
The sequel to 1993's Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, has stormed into the global record books to score the highest worldwide opening weekend in history.

Arts and Entertainment
Odi (Will Tudor)
tvReview: Humans, episode 2
Arts and Entertainment
Can't cope with a Port-A-loo? We've got the solution for you

FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets

Arts and Entertainment
Some zookeepers have been braver than others in the #jurassiczoo trend

Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant

Arts and Entertainment
An original Miffy illustration
Arts and Entertainment
Man of mystery: Ian McKellen as an ageing Sherlock Holmes
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Kitchen set: Yvette Fielding, Patricia Potter, Chesney Hawkes, Sarah Harding and Sheree Murphy
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Evans has been confirmed as the new host of Top Gear
Arts and Entertainment
Top of the class: Iggy Azalea and the catchy ‘Fancy’
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

    Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
    Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

    One day to find €1.6bn

    Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
    New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

    'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

    Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
    Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

    Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

    The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
    Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

    Historians map out untold LGBT histories

    Public are being asked to help improve the map
    Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

    Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

    This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
    Paris Fashion Week

    Paris Fashion Week

    Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
    A year of the caliphate:

    Isis, a year of the caliphate

    Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
    Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

    Marks and Spencer

    Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
    'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

    'We haven't invaded France'

    Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
    Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

    Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

    The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
    7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

    Remembering 7/7 ten years on

    Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
    Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

    They’re here to help

    We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
    Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

    Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

    'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
    What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

    What exactly does 'one' mean?

    Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue