There are two prominent ways in which seduction of a female protagonist is portrayed in Bollywood movies. The very obvious overtures by the protagonist or the more subtle but ‘message-conveying’ method of getting the female in question performing certain actions like a song and dance routine with love lyrics, dancing all around the male she has to seduce in a lonely outdoor scenic location, dancing drenched in the rain, talking extra sweet dialogues etc. etc.
But what adds to telling effect is the motion of the female in the Indian saree.
Madhuri Dikshit – Anil Kapoor – Beta – the ‘Dhak Dhak’ song
Madhuri is shown as a rebellious girl who defies all those who try to belittle her simpleton husband, including his own mother, who also detests her.The perfect loving wife of a good husband.
Evoking the manhood in him to become master of the household and her too, is when Madhuri performed her Dhak Dhak, and India’s male hearts beat in unison. Obviously this avatar of Madhuri has since remained etched in memory.
Why the saree? Why not any other dress when it is just love that has to be conveyed?
The saree offers an advantage that is not afforded by any other fabric – Figure -hugging and marking the contours, expressing through the fabric and the manner it is worn – love bordering on sensuality and nature’s gift to man.
The saree became popular for reasons much beyond that and not now or in recent times, but for centuries since it has been worn and displayed on the feminine form.
Mumtaz in Brahmachari
See the expression on Mumtaz’s face. The come hither look coupled with her impish grin and her navel showing saree style was considered bold and daring even then.
Baring the midriff is interestingly approved by ancient Indian tradition and the Natya Shastra (an ancient treatise describing ancient dance and costumes). The navel of the Supreme Being is considered the source of Life and Creativity, hence the midriff is to be left bare by the handloom saree.
Nargis – Raj Kapoor in Shree 420
A comfortable embrace like between hubby and wife or lovers, could very well be shown with any attire. But the Indianness of the theme is best expressed when shown as above with Nargis in the lovely but sensual saree.
Coupled with tradition and modern fantasies, it gave cinema directors of the bright and dark era to use the only way they could, to portray sensuality, apart from expressions on the face – drape the woman in the scene in a light translucent saree and with or without rain, the feeling could be conveyed effectively. With the advent of the color era right upto today’s digital age, it is the saree all along that remains the director’s favourite.
Madhubala – Kishore Kumar in Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi
How does one forget this comedy movie’s unforgettable scene which has a soaked Madhubala and a young and naughty Kishore in his garage. It was black and white, but the sensuality of Madhubala in the figure-hugging saree is what fuelled the Indian male’s imagination.
The saree may be a rectangular piece of fabric, but it follows the contours of a figure draped in it and based on the imagination of the wearer, the manner of covering or revealing does much for the realism in the portrayal of a scene. Better the shapeliness of the wearer better the visual allure.
Padmini in Mera Naam Joker
Raj Kapoor had always proclaimed his love for women and showing their sensuality in some scene during the movies he directed, that have always made him remembered for by Indian audiences. Even today this seemingly natural but well shot scene from Mera Naam Joker has Padmini oozing desire every inch of the frame.
Bollywood especially has demonstrated this fact and has explored and exploited this aspect to the hilt, from the time this aspect of the saree was amply realized that it offers much more than a functional need as clothing.
Few decades back when audiences saw this song in theatres, there were whistles, catcalls and all other manner of expressions for a simple saree drenched song sequence that was shot excellently, and enacted brilliantly by an accomplished actress like sridevi. Even today this song gets the same response when shown in theatres, not to mention discomfiture of those watching with children at home.
Sushmita Sen and Shahrukh Khan in Main Hoon Na
One of the hits of the 90s, this scene seems a simple duet between lovers. But note the saree chosen and the manner of wearing which conveys desire so very naturally and elegantly. One doubts whether the same effect could ever be depicted with any other form of female attire.
Kareena kapoor in chameli
The saree is perhaps the only garment that hides and reveals the body as much as the wearer desires to convey the emotion effectively. kareena Kapoor with her manner of draping and the look on her face emotes her mixed feelings extremely effectively as a prostitute.
Priyanka chopra – desi girl
Known for her no qualms of baring the right amount without making it appear crude and carrying it well, this image of Priyanka was definitely a scorcher.
If hypothetically the vast Indian population were to be asked what they would like their female actors to be draped in given a multitude of choices, the saree would undeniably be the number one choice, simply because apart from the sight of the average Indian woman traditionally donning the saree in her daily routine, be it at home, for work, for parties, functions and festivals and almost any other form of activity, it establishes the wearer as a woman, a being harbouring the more delicate emotions of human nature, irrespective of look, build, caste, creed, color etc.
To allow you to make your own judgment in the matter detailed above, we provide some of the images of Bollywood Heroines whose saree exploits are etched in the industry’s history and the minds of audiences who are remembered as ‘ women who raised the saree to sensual heights’.