The Indian Heroine Comes of Age

Trina Talukdar


Zoya, how do I love thee, let me count the ways.

I love you because you are unflinching with a pistol butt to your head. I love you because with the money your mother gave you for jhumkas, you bought a revolver. Because when the goons attacked you were chasing then down in your open jeep while your father and brother were still flailing around. But most of all, I love you because when the guy fucked and dumped you, unlike any other Indian heroine, you did not shoot yourself, and instead, went to shoot him.

Parineeti Chopra, in her in interview to NDTV India said, “There are two heroes in Ishaqzaade.” While it is unfortunate that an independent heroine, who can take care of herself, and shoots guns alongside the hero, has to be a called a “hero”, with the likes of  characters like Geet, and now Zoya, there is hope that soon the stereotype of the ‘damsel in distress in a  chiffon saree’ is going to upturn on its head.

Yes, Zoya is the hero of the movie, yet in touch with her femininity in the powerful song “Main pareshaan, pareshaan” and her innocence intact the entire while she believes that her parents will whole-heartedly accept her inter-religious marriage, that her smile can always win Abbu over, until he actually shoots her, and the look of shock and betrayal, and the death of innocence, painful on her face.

Although Yash Raj Production’s “Ishaqzaade” is yet another rendition of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”, with star-crossed lovers from opposing factions falling in love, only to be chased down by both families to death, it is unlike any other rendition you will have seen of the classic- not the Broadway production “West Side Story”,  not Hollywood’s “Gangs of New York”, neither our own Bollywood’s “Bobby.” And what makes it different is that in Shakespeare’s over-rated “Romeo and Juliet”, where both protagonists are spineless pussies wallowing in soliloquies and then killing themselves at the end, Ishaqzaades Zoya and Parma fight for their love down to the last 3 bullets. And so, we don’t pity them, like we do R&J- but we love them and we want to fight for them.

But what appealed to me the most about the film was its realism. Zoya’s inexperience at buying guns showing when she forgets to buy bullets, the hero actually bleeds when stabbed or shot, and most important to me- while sprinting to escape the gunned men, Parineeti Chopra is wearing sensible shoes, and her hair is tied in a neat braid. It bothers me to no end when in action movies, the heroines are running in heels with their hair flying all over. Forget about the discomfort! It is actually impossible- the hair all over your face would render you blind to attached. As for the shoes, I tried running in heels- I fractured my leg!

And so, ladies and gentlemen, with “Ishaqzaade”, not only does the Indian Heroine come of age, so does realism. I only hope we can cling on to it and make it stay.

Oh, PS- waistcoats on kurtas and yellow glares are here, and they will stay.

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"The Indian Heroine Comes of Age" by @bongbuzz