Throwback Thursday: From Going Topless To Feminist Roles, 5 Movies That Prove Dimple Kapadia Didn’t Care About Conservatism
It wasn’t until recently that I watched Bobby, as an adult. Earlier, I have been under the same roof, watching a stunning bikini-clad woman, with a sense of style and charm that made Rishi Kapoor’s obsession with her in the film very understandable. But what would a kid understand? As a woman, I loved her character in the film. It is amazingly inspiring to watch a woman older than my own mother be not just an actress but one who was hell-bent on gaining more substantial roles and shattering stereotypes. Today, when you look at how Twinkle Khanna has a repute of being unapologetically outspoken, you can tell where that comes from. Dimple Kapadia was not cut out for a running-around-the-trees part. And with the redundant controversies surrounding Tandav, let’s not forget she isn’t a new player and has decades’ worth of acquaintance with pointless stir-ups.
Before Bobby even released, Dimple Kapadia tied the knot with a smitten and much older Rajesh Khanna. She was 16 and he was 31. Before becoming an overnight sensation, the otherwise assertive girl had left her stepping stone for a marriage that would not last. When they separated, with two little girls she stepped away from married life and rejoined the industry, this time bolder and as a woman. “Certainly, marriage brings security… I was Mrs Rajesh Khanna. It takes guts to leave all that. But now that I’m earning and fending for myself, I feel more secure. There’s a hell of a difference in spending your time playing cards and acting,” Kapadia told Filmfare in 1984.
Kapadia was no longer the teen in a frivolous love affair with a blue-eyed boy. She was a woman who was confident in her sexuality and didn’t hesitate before dropping her cover-up in a film that would be remembered for decades to come, mostly for that blink-and-miss scene.
Dimple Kapadia had her share of south Indian films that she admitted to having done for financial gains and not quality. But she valiantly pursued movies that were more arthouse as well as commercial but with more substance for the leading lady. And then came award-winning movies that established her standing as an actress that could herald a film to success. Kapadia questioned in a 1985 Filmfare interview, “When I do glamorous roles people say I look haggard. Why can’t directors conceive me in a realistic set-up? Why can’t directors like Mahesh Bhatt and Shyam Benegal sign me?”
Here are a few films in which Dimple Kapadia shattered stereotypes and was a total boss lady.
After Bobby, this was supposed to be her comeback film but Zakhmi Sher released first. However, this movie saw a topless Kapadia for a fraction of a second, which was remarkably bold for a woman of the 80s. While there have been other actresses who didn’t shy away from baring in front of the camera, this was a major move by an A-lister who bared it all.
In this film, Kapadia plays the role of a woman who was treated as the one who brings bad fortune and was deprived of her rights. How she ends up from being someone who couldn’t shed a tear to a professional mourner is a journey filled with epiphanies and empowerment. “There has been a lot of pain in my life but I don’t find myself going into that area…This could be wrong because people say it’s cathartic to go through the process. I’m scared of losing myself even for a few minutes,” Dimple Kapadia had said in a 2010 interview. Well, shed a tear if you must. Vulnerability is empowering.
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Breaking the glass ceiling in those days, Kapadia essayed the role of a police officer who is a survivor of gang-rape. However, when the judicial system fails her, she joins hands with other rape survivors to seek justice. They go on to castrate the perps and while that may not come under the provisions of the law, so doesn’t the rape, right?
While Kapadia’s scope was limited in this film about the struggles of youth in a corrupt world, she unabashedly portrayed the role of a prostitute. When it comes to a country where sex is stigmatized and sex work treated like the most sinister and dirty of all jobs, Dimple Kapadia gave two hoots about society and its orthodox mindset.
It’s not like Kapadia had not done intimate scenes before, but sharing a full-blown sequence with her Jat boyfriend’s direct competitor lying on hay wasn’t quite comfortable for her. However, she is too cool for using two phools to show intimacy. PS: It takes real guts to make orgasm faces while being sensuously kissed on your neck by a man lying on top of you, in front of the camera for a movie that will be watched by a conservative society.