The month of March celebrates International Women’s Day, we roll out a list of 10 Bollywood movies which had strong female characters at the forefront.
1. Nargis – Mother India (1957)
From the first Indian film to get nominated for the Oscars, this character is stored in our memories. Portraying the struggles and pains of a mother who takes care of her sons in very terse situations. Nargis met her husband on the sets of this movie.
2. Sridevi – English Vinglish (2012)
The central character Shashi, played to perfection by Sridevi, was actually inspired from director Gauri Shinde’s mother. The story of a docile housewife, who seeks admission to an English speaking course to stop getting taunted by her family, welled up everyone’s eyes. Sridevi made her comeback with this movie.
3. Madhuri Dixit Nene – Gulab Gang (2014)
In Gulaab Gang, Madhuri Dixit plays a very vital role of a village woman who fights against domestic violence and dowry system. Gulab Gang talks about women empowerment, self defense and education for all. It is wonderful as the film talks about mutual respect between a man and a woman, an equal equation between the two genders and how a woman can stand on her own feet independently. It is inspired by real Gulab Gang that operated in Bundelkhand Uttar and Madhya Pradesh.
4. Kareena Kapoor – Chameli (2003)
Chameli’s character ended up being a turning point for Kareena Kapoor Khan’s career. Her co-star Aman played by Rahul Bose is first repulsed by her, but as they spend time together, he realizes how she is a victim of time, driven to desperation. Despite all, she remains optimistic who believes in spreading happiness around.
5. Vidya Balan – Kahaani (2012) and Tumhari Sulu (2017)
A pregnant woman in search of her husband fights against all odds. Symbolically compared with Maa Durga who destroys evil, Vidya carried the entire film on her able shoulders and left everyone in awe.
Tumhari Sulu made us question why we, as a society, expect housewives to have no other aspiration than looking after the household. Sulu’s struggle to find her passion in radio, her family’s expectations was a tale that holds true for women across various sections of society.
6. Rani Mukerji – Mardaani (2014) and Mardaani 2 (2019)
For anyone who thinks women should be demure and coy, meet Shivani Shivaji Roy. Rani Mukerji as the top cop shows both physical and mental strength of a woman in Mardaani. She not only single-handedly beat up some nasty goons but also solved a high profile child trafficking case. Respect and some more respect for this Tigress.
7. Alia Bhatt – Highway (2014) and Udta Punjab (2016)
Possibly, Alia Bhatt’s best performance till date, Highway changed the very perception of the actor. Alia, as the young, soon-to-be married Veera who finds independence after being abducted Alia gave a moving performance in this splendid Imtiaz Ali movie.
Udta Punjab Alia Bhatt plays a nameless, impoverished young migrant from Bihar, who turns into a drug addicted sex slave. Even after being abused on a daily basis, she doesn’t give up, as she stares out of her small window every day and yearns to be free and happy one day. It was a true survivor’s tale.
8. Kangana Ranaut – Queen (2014)
Kangana changed the tide for not just actresses in Hindi cinema, but also women in general, with Queen. From being a timid girl who is jilted by her fiancé for being uncool to a confident and liberated woman who travels the world, Rani (Kangana’s character in Queen) warmed everyone’s heart. It encouraged and inspired women to come out of their shells and follow their dreams.
9. Deepika Padukone – Piku (2015)
She’s independent. She’s flamboyant. She’s unapologetic. She’s Piku. Deepika Padukone played a much-loved Bengali character in Shoojit Sircar’s Piku and won hearts all over, both with the critics as well as the audiences. Deepika also played strong characters in Padmavat and Bajirao Mastani.
10. Taapsee Pannu – Pink (2016)
Any urban, working woman in a metro city could feel Taapsee’s pain in Pink. Fighting against a bunch of hoodlums with influential family background, Taapsee emerged victorious in the end, thus giving many women like her in India the much needed hope. Taapsee’s character in Saandh Ki Aankh was commendable. She and Bhumi Pednekar the film on their shoulders effortlessly. It isn’t easy playing 60 when you are 30.
Here’s wishing all the beautiful women a very Happy Women’s Day.