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Needed, more space for women's sexual identity on marquees

iend (Aamir Khan).

Dimple dies of cirrhosis of the liver and it is suggested that Akshaye falls for a suitable young woman, seen at the end of the film.

In "Ek Chhotisi Love Story", career-oriented single-woman Manisha Koirala is depicted as a corrupter of innocence and condemned to a lonely life of remorse for seducing a young boy.

In "Leela" again, the woman (Dimple Kapadia) is a visiting professor in the US who sleeps with her Indian student (Amol Mhatre) in a moment of rage against her philanderer husband. The experience changes Leela's life and she embarks on a much-belated journey of self-discovery, minus husband or young suitor.

"Almost all these films portray the older woman as a pitiable creature whose life is enhanced by a man's presence. It must be unthinkable for the Hindi filmmaker to think of a female character who is happy and fulfilled without conventional notions of 'love' and 'marriage'," says film critic Deepa Gehlot.

The stereotyping by recent filmmakers is not much different from films in the past like "Maya Memsaab", which had the insatiable Deepa Sahi in an affair with a young man (Shah Rukh Khan), "Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi" with Rekha as a female don pathetically lusting after her younger sister's boyfriend (Akshay Kumar), "Doosra Aadmi" had Raakhee getting attracted to a younger Rishi Kapoor because he resembles her dead lover and "Saaz" had the atypical idea of a mother (Shabana Azmi) and daughter (Ayesha Dharker) falling in love with the same man (Zakir Hussain), who loves the older woman but the relationship has to be ended.

The only film with a so-called 'odd' pairing to end happily was Shabana Azmi's "Bada Din", in which she is an ill-tempered Catholic landlady who falls for hunky Marc Robinson.

Says Deepa: "For filmmakers what is not acceptable in the Indian social milieu is taboo. But Indian society has changed. Women are living on their own terms, but filmmake
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