I have been wanting to see the film “Dirty Picture” for some time now but thanks to the holiday season tickets are not so easy to come by. Besides, I have been ill which has restricted my mobility outside home. So, I decided to make the best of the situation and watch some films on DVD.

I saw last night a Bengali film “ Iti Mrinalini” ( meaning Yours Sincerely, Mrinalini). A very moving film ,it was about an aging actress who is about to commit suicide. As she writes her suicide note her mind flashes through her life- her hey days , her affair with a director- yes, a married man with whom she had a child but who never married her! She pines for the child who dies in an accident, the man who she loved but who could not leave his wife and children  for her, her break up with him and her subsequent  relationships with various other men all of whom except one used her for their own ends. The film had some superb acting by the mother daughter duo - Aparna and Konkona Sen, both  playing the same character at different points in time of course!

Stories such as these seem to abound in the film world! We had Marilyn Monroe, who ,to quote Elton John lived her life like a “Candle in the wind”. I had read a biography of hers a couple of years ago and I remember being shocked by the way she was exploited by so many men – the illustrious American President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert Kennedy included! 

Closer home there is Silk Smitha and Shobha two stars who took their own lives!

It makes me wonder what is it about such lives that drives one to such despair? There is often a man involved – a mentor, usually a director/ producer or a senior co star who is a married. I know I should not be judgmental but considering that these women have the world at their feet, why do they get involved with such uncaring brutes? It seems almost like masochism! I cannot believe that the film world does not have decent men who can give them a good life! But it is obviously not just the men who exploit these women.

If we look closer and deeper into the lives of some of the big women stars in our industry, we can see that their lives are actually not even in their own hands. There are many examples of parents exploiting these girls – Sridevi and Hema Malini two leading ladies who were totally controlled by their mothers! Interestingly, both these women ended up rebelling against this control by “marrying” already married men. The story of Sridevi is probably more pathetic- she had been acting from the time she was a child and had no control over anything in her life. Her mother pocketed the money and is said to have pushed her into all the casting couches possible. In the case of Hema Malini too the story is similar. In most cases the parents do not want the daughter married as they feel that the “golden goose” would then be lost. Actress Padmini Kolhapure had to elope out of her own house to get married as her parents were opposed to her marriage!

When I hear these stories I am reminded of the “madams” in the brothels of the red light districts! They keep their girls similarly under tight control exploiting them until they are able to get a decent price for their bodies! Most of these women end up having  love affairs with  some of their favourite clients, running away with them dreaming of marriage but finally ending up doing the same work for a different master!

Though  I find it horrible to compare the lives of our leading female stars to these unfortunate women, I realize that when you are a woman the chances of being exploited are very high. If money and fame does not give you the power to control your own destiny then it is really sad…!!! These so called “marriages”  to married men are nothing but a sham that these ladies put up. It is a bold woman like Nina Gupta who had a child out of wedlock and refused to name the father.

Somewhere along the way, I realize that despite society having progressed the controls on women have not changed much.  We see Aishwarya Rai, the most beautiful woman in the world, playing the docile “Bacchan Bahu”  as her mother-in- law says in an interview that her daughter-in-law appeals to her because she “knows to keep her mouth shut in front of her elders”!

I don’t know whether it is the fear of public opinion that makes these ladies behave the way they do? If that is so then it is really silly because these women have the power to change public opinion by the way they conduct themselves. Respect for Nina Gupta has in no way fallen after her motherhood.

But then as somebody once told me, when you live in a make believe world you live amidst a lot of insecurities and these insecurities can break you! Besides, if your business is about marketing emotions, you are likely to get caught up in them - Just as working in a cement factory may make you suffer from asthma, similarly working in the film world may make you more vulnerable to emotional breakdowns. Women, Iare more vulnerable to this than men.. not just because of the way they are made but also because their coping strategies and safety nets in situations such as this are lower.

I wish the media would be more sensitive while reporting about the lives of these women – there is more to them than their bodies and their relationships. However, as long as there are people like us out there in the world waiting to “lap up” the  gossip ,the media, I guess will continue to report about them.  And hypocrites that we are, we will continue reading about it, and making judgments …!



  1. Makes for sad reading.I think there are a few women stars ,educated ones,who have stood their ground and refused to yield under pressure save by choice.Film world and to a lesser extent politics are treacherous areas and best avoided by weak women unless one has strong support and mind.
    Behind the name,fame and money we find frustrated souls wanting true love and tender care.The very weak take the easy but tragic way to find the elusive peace.
    You have captured the sense of dismay really well

  2. Meera,

    First of all how are you feeling now? Hope you are better and can move out also. What you say here is an open secret which is not acknowledged. Why do you think Prithviraj Kapoor or Raj Kapoor did not want girls from their family to join films? Each profession has such prowling men who are ready to exploit and women who are ambitious to climb the ladder at any cost. In film world it is more so as the money and duration of fame is beyond any other field. I have my doubts if any of the women in this field can honestly say that they have not been exploited. Then each to his or her own way of living.

    Take care

  3. I saw "the dirty picture" last week in Delhi and I really liked Vidya Balan in it.

    I think that all stars, men and women, are under tremendous pressures. Reading stories about yourself in tabloids, reading reviewers shredding your work to pieces, never knowing why people are fawning over you, etc. all must be so stressful. Plus the fear that clock is ticking and that soon you may be thrown out!

    To be a star you probably need a single minded ambition and coupled with limited education, probably it means great vulnerability.

  4. Money and fame attracts women making them more vulnerable if they are not far sighted. In fact, the men of fame, the men of authority, are looking for preying upon beautiful females for satisfying their lust while the ladies play goof and are not even close to common sense to have a near miss from dangerous attraction.
    A girl is a commodity while a man is a consumer.
    Yet, I hate the abuser men and the vulnerability of our women folk.
    After all, women are mothers, sisters or daughters. All are alike.

  5. Dirt world, and the tinsel one is only the part of the greater dirt.
    A good, questioning Post.

    First let me correct a matter that you mentioned, and I hope you will agree. There was nothing "illustrious" about JFK.It was the media who made a hero of a promiscuous man.Who spent more time in the bed with women than in the Oval office.

    It may be the chemistry of women that makes them far more susceptible to exploitation.It is indeed a mystery why they while in their pinnacle of power and fame do not rebel and ensure their lives. It is a mystery why they do not take care of their destiny than be exploited by all and sundry. Is it emotional inability?

    And you cannot hope media and the public to be sensitive. In fact they are hungry for sleaze and masala. The courageous few like Neena Gupta dare to take control of their affairs.

  6. Everyone knows these things. Yet, these things continue. I guess the lure of the money and fame is a bit too much. But to think of it, every profession comes with hazards. Most strong and bold looking working women these days are vulnerable on the inside too. It just takes the wrong kind of relationship to ruin such a life! Each to his/her own I guess.

  7. Namaste and blessings for the season. Sorry to read that you were not well I trust you are well on the mend.

    It is difficult to find movies with great content and this one sounded great, lost love and the lack of self-worth can be a the downfall to all those who fall onto that path.

    Take care of yourself and have a blessed and wonderfilled new year.


  8. Thanks Friends for your concern about my health- really touched!@ Rhapsody Phoenix you should get a DVD of this film if you can. The movie is directed by Aparna Sen. @ Jack, Prithiviraj and Raj used what is called the avoidance tactic. That is to side step the issue. Raj himself has exploited so many actresses. @ Jyoti, I think the problems of women in the film world are more complex than those of successful women in other professions. @ Sunil Deepak, I need to see that film- it is becoming a sort of urgency. @ Anil, you are right JFK was just a hype created by the american media. @ Tariq Mian the respect for women is central to the way any society ought to function.

  9. Hello Meera,

    Again a thoughtful post from you. I saw the movie 'Dirty Picture'. Though the film portrays sleazy elements, I would say it is the character portrayed and the performance from lead actress that capture our heart and eyes more than anything..This post was very informative. You told us several things that we were previously unheard of..

    And wish you speedy recovery

  10. Meera, you write wonderful thought provoking posts so close to reality!These carry a lot of substance! Wishing you a lovely New Year ahead and will wait for more posts in future from you!

  11. Thoughtful post. I saw Dirty Picture twice... and, applauded at the end of first half... the way she gives the speech at the award function... At the end, she suffered and sadly she found suicide the only way...and I came out of the theatre with sadness...
    Women suffer... No matter how much we say that Men and Women stand equally in the society, women suffer more in relationships out of law... & Hence women need to be extra careful in the way they carry themselves...

  12. Yes folks I finally saw Dirty Picture. Great movie! yes women probably suffer more than men due to emotional turmoil. Sowjee you are right about that ! Thanks Tomz for the kind words. Rahul thanks for the wishes.


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