The OTT world is reinventing female leads with a different perspective. As the focus shifts to the power of women in the digital space, the characteristics of the heroine that until now had not been exploited have come to the fore.
A recent example is Vidya Balan’s new release “Sherni”, where she is seen playing a forestry officer caught in the quagmire of the sexist ‘sarkari’ workplace, even as she struggles to protect wildlife. Through the eyes of Vidya Vincent, his on-screen character, the film looks at the rapid erosion of forests, poaching, the threat to wildlife in the name of development, and the chauvinistic “babu culture.”
For Vidya Balan, “Sherni” refers to all women who derive their identity from the work they do. She agrees that digital platforms get instant reactions.
“What happens is that when a film is released, you have to wait until Saturday morning to find out how it is received. When it comes to a theatrical release, the box office is the most important thing. Whereas with ‘Shakuntala Devi,’ the movie was released at midnight and when I woke up the next morning, I had a barrage of messages from people who stayed up the night before to watch it at 12 in the morning. So I think I was not expecting instant feedback. I think both are great, ”Vidya Balan told IANS.
Samantha Akkineni made a shocking digital debut with the second season of “The Family Man 2” as antagonist Raji, a Tamil terrorist from Sri Lanka. The role is complex and Samantha has very few lines to speak. His character balances his vulnerability as a person who knows nothing beyond his movement and what he perceives is his idealism, and at the same time, he is a ruthless person who will go anywhere to get what he wants.
Then there is actress Huma Qureshi on the web series “Maharani”, which tells the story of an illiterate wife of an ailing chief minister who is pushed into the limelight of Bihar politics. The series made it easy to understand the much talked about forage scam.
“It’s not often that you can play a character that allows you to explore as many layers as a performer. Rani Bharti has been a pleasure to play. She starts out as someone we all know and relate to, but becomes someone few of us can aspire to, ”Huma said.
One of the most powerful and unusually imagined female roles in OTT has been Shefali Shah as the fierce DCP cop Vartika Chaturvedi in the web series “Delhi Crime”, which won the Best Dramatic Series award at the 48th International Emmy Awards.
Shefali in an interview with IANS recalled how, in the past, Bollywood reduced its female characters to accessories, noting how the OTT space and new-age movies have ushered in change. “That has changed. OTT has also opened up the world to us as actors and heroes. We are going to return to that stage ”, he had said.
Rasika Dugal has been one of the most successful stories in the OTT era. She wowed the audience with her role in the first and second season of the web series “Mirzapur” as Beena Tripathi.
Rasika broke the taboo of talking about female desires with her character Beena, eventually transforming from a demure bahu to a fierce woman.
During a Twitter chat with IANS, Rasika said: “(It was) a relief that female desire was recognized. (It was) an interesting and therefore liberating outing to explore such a beautifully flawed character. I lived indirectly through Beena, ”Rasika told IANS on Twitter when asked.
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