Tuesday, July 10, 2007: (Mumbai):
The stereotype of the Christian woman in Bollywood has been delightfully examined by docu filmmaker Paromita Vohra in her film 'Where's Sandra?'
"You see Catholic girls in movies as secretary or nurses, it was a sociological reality. since she spoke English, so many women in those jobs," says Vohra.
"Because they out there working immediately translates into the idea of what are they doing in workplace with men. The stereotype is on the whole very clear. Always girl loose, wears dress, speaks English, willing to go out with boys, sexually loose in a crude kind of way".
Whats worse almost always the naughty girl or the vamp in Hindi films would be Christian. Rosy, Lily, and Kitty played to perfection by Helen.
But as Jerry Pinto argues in his book if she was the bold revealing vamp in countless roles Helen was also an endearing character.
Pinto says, "I found curious affection attached to character as well it was as if she was not someone who was totally bad".
"In Teesri Manzil for instance she throws herself in the way of the bullet meant for the hero Shammi Kapoor. There is one film where in the end she becomes a nurse because she wants to help humanity".
The same affection reserved for the older Christian chracters by the time they aged - the women or men for that matter became loving and loved but often still remained loud, drunk and merry.
Clumsy stereotypes but as some would suggest is also Hindi cinema's awkward, simplistic but significant way of reflecting diversity.
Vohra says, "minority communities in Indian cineam are always objects of contempt but really it's about how you look at it like when you see a figure like Helen".
"Catholic girls find them to be delightful and you know when they are going to come on screen there is going to something nice happening".
"There is going to be a song. These girls who were having such good time, smiling, something that Hindi film heroines didnt do. She was always sad, she had to be the good girl. When you don't want to be the Hindi film heroine, you look for images that endorse the way you would like to live your life."
But in changing India's more urban more homogenous cinema you need not be Christian to dress or dance Western.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the LORD Jesus Christ. (Philemon 1:3)
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