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Dear Rohit Shetty, Why Does Your Cop Universe Have No Place for Women?

By: Devasheesh Pandey


Last Updated: March 05, 2020, 17:15 IST

Rohit Shetty (L)

Rohit Shetty (L)

Ironically, while women characters have been victims in Rohit Shetty's films, giving the men a cause to fight, the actresses are hardly given any importance.

Bollywood has been much ahead in utilising the character of a woman as a means to the male actor's ends on-screen. Even classic Hollywood films suffer from the lack of agency given to women with only now things starting to seem a little more balanced out. Mission Mangal and Chopsticks, to name a few, used the characters of women at the centre as they unraveled their own stories, and now comes Rohit Shetty's Sooryavanshi, possibly a step backward in women's representation on the big screen.

Read: Sooryavanshi: Decoding the Rohit Shetty Formula of High Octane Drama

Rohit is a celebrated Bollywood director, who has brought back the popular cinematic tropes to mainstream Bollywood. He has created a niche for himself in fashioning cop-drama films with Singham (2011), starring Ajay Devgn while he then rebooted his character as Bajirao Singham in Singham Returns (2014). Then in 2019 he directed Simmba, which had Ranveer Singh portray the titular character of Sangram 'Simmba' Bhalerao, a corrupt-cop-turned-saviour.

Now, his latest Sooryavanshi features Akshay Kumar as an ATS cop, who will take on the fight against terrorism, a global menace. Deservedly, the hype is building around Sooryavanshi, which, by the looks of it, may go on to do great numbers at the box office. Why wouldn't it, when it has the enviable Rohit Shetty formula -- an average middle class man with a vendetta.

But what mostly gets ignored are the actresses in the aforementioned films. While only Kareena Kapoor Khan's Singham character of Avni Kamat has stood out in the cop universe, Kajal Aggarwal's Kavya Bhosle was also decently ulitised for comic relief and a necessary romantic track. But they barely stood out in cinematic forms as the male actors. Fans of popular action genre rejoice in seeing the killing of men onscreen while women get reduced to secondary leads.

Ironically, while women characters have been victims in Rohit's film's plots, the actresses are hardly given any importance. In Singham, we see Ajay crusading for justice for a widow and her child. In Simmba, Ranveer is struggling to eliminate female child trafficking, drug dealing and murder. The plot points are all female-centric, but the fight is led by a man. There are almost no female cops in Rohit's universe.

Sara Ali Khan's character and the film Simmba are the biggest examples of Rohit ignoring his female characters. Sara's role is very limited in terms of screen time but she necessarily makes a presence in a romantic song sequence, a trope that will expectedly feature in Sooryavanshi as well.

Coming back to masala formula films, the sidelining of women characters cannot be ignored anymore and with popular stars like Akshay, Ranveer, Katrina, Ajay and Karan Johar endorsing the idea it becomes all the more problematic. Is Sooryavanshi relevant in today's times?

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