ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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'Moving beyond Themselves'

The first female roles enacted on stage were played by men. The first women who tried to break the boundaries and appear on stage were those who came from communities seen as "marginal" or too "forward", for instance, the Anglo-Indians. Those who came from "respectable" communities, such as actors from established Parsi families, faced the threat of being ostracised. Acceptance by the audience and a female actor's ability and success in playing roles other than the merely conventional also belonged to those who could physically claim a distance from India and Indians, as seen in Nadia's success in the stunt movies. But as more and more women came to dominate the stage and later, even films, they had to pay the price for breaking the bonds of convention. Most of them faded away after a short screen life and were later berated for their inability to settle down as conventional "wives" and "mothers". This article traces the careers of some women, a few who came to dominate the stage, those who played memorable roles in the silent film and talkie era and others who distinguished themselves as singers, only to fade into oblivion a few years later.

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