Why is Hema Malini not considered a feminist when she’s actually one? On her birthday, we look at how her life choices prove so.
Hema Malini has never been a darling of the feminists and it’s unlikely she will ever be. The reason, you could argue, is India’s perception of her as a staid, conventional woman. But Gulzar makes a strong contrarian argument in the foreword of Hema Malini’s authorised biography published in 2007.
The media, the poet-filmmaker writes, “projects her as a traditional woman but her choices in life prove that she is more liberal than most of the slogan-shouting feminists we know about.”
Coming from the wise Gulzar, who following in the traditions of Bimal Roy and Hrishikesh Mukherjee tried to apply the parallel cinema sensibility on the commercially popular face of Hema Malini in films like Khushboo, Kinara and Meera, it compels you to think about Hema’s life and career from a fresh perspective.
While Gulzar is, of course, referring to her courageous personal life let’s look at how the Dream Girl has also been breaking new grounds on screen. Like most Tamil girls of her generation, Hema learnt to dance from a tender age and took an instant liking to it. In fact, in Bhawana Somaaya’s authorised biography, the author admits that when Hema – who has led, more or less, a private life and keeps the press at bay with her cold and indifferent attitude – first approached her to write a book on her, it was to chronicle her “sojourn as a dancer.”