It’s been a long hundred years since Dadasaheb Phalke had to settle for a man to play the heroine in India’s first feature film, Raja Harishchandra (1913) - and women in Hindi cinema have come a long way since then. Mother Maiden Mistress documents that journey: from a time in which cinema was considered a profession beneath the
dignity of ‘respectable’ women to an era when women actors are icons and idols.
Bhawana Somaaya, Jigna Kothari and Supriya Madangarli sift through six decades of history, bringing to life the women that peopled cinema and the popular imagination, and shaped fashion and culture. Contemporary readers will also find here a nuanced historical perspective - of the social milieu of the time, of the nation and of Hindi cinema itself. Also riveting are the first-person narratives of a leading actress from each decade - Waheeda Rehman, Asha Parekh, Hema Malini, Shabana Azmi, Madhuri Dixit and Rani Mukerji - all close-up examinations of how some of the iconic characters of Hindi cinema came to be.
At once a guide, an archive and a cracking good read, the book records and reviews the woman in Hindi cinema - the mythical, the Sati-Savitri, the rebel, the avant-garde and the contemporary. In a journey through six decades of cinema, seemingly, the more things have changed, the more they have remained the same.