Bollywood has always been accused of being a very sexist industry, someone who is proud of the male dominated movies it produces every week. Normally we have movies where hero bashes the bad guys and saves the girl, who swoons over him the instant his biceps flex. For some reason, we rarely had a heroine like say a Kangana Ranaut or a Priyanka Chopra to assert that they are not going t be just an arm-candy, but even they have fallen to the trappings of the male dominance in movies – like Kangana (Krrish 3 – a villainous mutant who suddenly falls for the hero), and Priyanka Chopra (Whatever Plan, Big Brother was supposed to be). Usually, Bollywood loves to serve testosterone fuelled flicks like R…Rajkumar, Dabanng, Kick and all.
However, you can say times are changing now. We had a Neerja this year, that was entirely focussed on Sonam Kapoor and Shabana Azmi. But can we expect Neerja, a film that could be the best of the year, be a blockbuster? Oh hell, no! Then there was Pink, a supposed women empowerment celebrating movie, that still needed a male protagonist (Amitabh Bachchan) to give the movie a happy ending. Sultan was often accused of showing the female protagonist of choosing domestic bliss and her indifferent husband’s happiness over her own career (something I slightly disagree… It was her choice to do so, and she was happy with the decision then). But yeah, things are changing. But have we seen films where Bollywood superstars like Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan or an Aamir Khan is playing a second fiddle to a female leads? Actually, coming to think of it, yeah…
Here are seven such instances where our leading men actually played a supporting role in the films, letting their heroines take the main spotlight.
Shah Rukh Khan
Movie: Dear Zindagi
Dear Zindagi is primarily an Alia Bhatt movie, where Shah Rukh Khan is in an extended cameo playing her life coach. Despite the teasers and songs placing him prominence, never expect DZ to be an SRK movie. He just plays an important plot element in Alia’s story, that’s it.
Movie: Phir Milenge
This Revathi-directed movie has Salman Khan in a role that surprised me very much. One, he is not even the main lead, that goes to Shilpa Shetty and to some extent, Abhishek Bachchan. Second, he plays an HIV patient in the movie, something no mainstream actor has dared to do. Thirdly, this happened to be one of his most underrated performances with his death scene so moving that I dare you to remain dry-eyed at the end of it.
With all the accusations surrounding her that she is an actress with limited capabilities, it was surprising that Roy was made around Jacqueline’s character. Of course, there is Arjun Rampal, the male lead, but the pivot of the story is Jacqueline herself. Meanwhile Ranbir Kapoor, the biggest star of the trio, was relegated to a cameo, which could turn out to be his biggest regret as well. Oh, wait! that’s reserved for Besharam.
Aamir Khan might have taken away all the claps and ceetees for his role as the lovable street ruffian Munna in this Ram Gopal Varma movie. But Rangeela was not his movie – It was Urmila’s. Rangeela was all about Urmila’s rise from a background dancer to a very hot debutante in a blockbuster movie. Both Jackie Shroff and Aamir Khan are a part of the rise, one the reason, the other her support and love. But yeah, we loved Aamir the most!
In Silence of the Lambs, Anthony Hopkins had around 20 minutes of screentime and yet he took away the Academy Award for the Best Actor that year. However when Tanuja Chandra remade the movie in Hindi and roped in Akshay Kumar in his role, his role was significantly increased and he was a man wrongly accused of his crimes, than a legitimate cannibalizing serial killer. Thankfully, the movie still revolved around Jodie Foster…. Y mean, Preity Zinta’s character. Love that song though, Mujhe Raat Din…
Lajja was primarily the journey of a woman, played by Manisha Koirala and the three women (Mahima Chaudhary she meets while escaping from her abusive husband. The men in the stories play supporting roles to these women, and jay Devgn is one of them. However his role as the Naxal-like dacoit is easily one of the best things about the film. Though Madhuri Dixit’s cheer-haran of Ramayana is definitely the highlight.
Fiza was supposed to be the first movie Hrithik signed before Kaho Na Pyar Hai happened, so by the time it came out, he was already a big star. So despite Karisma Kapur playing the title character and the main lead, the publicity team gave more prominence to Hrithik while promoting the movie.