I grew up watching Bollywood movies only to realize Shahrukh Khan wasn’t on his way to rescue me from my parents in the village all the way from London. That was definitely a bummer but I wouldn’t trade anything for the following five Bollywood movies.
These movies do much more than piggy back on female empowerment. Their daring take on familial relationships, community and said values that supposedly only women need to adhere to is gutsy, to say the least.
Here are our top 5 Bollywood movies with undaunted female protagonists and your gateway to feminist Bollywood:
Sridevi returned to Bollywood after her 15-year hiatus in Gauri Shinde’s 2012 international hit. She plays the role of a homemaker, born and bred in India living with her husband, two children, and her mother-in-law. Early in the dramedy, we’re made aware of her struggles with the English language due to which she is, time and again berated by her own husband and daughter. The audience recognizes her as a typical stay at home Indian mom, making and selling laddus because that’s what she’s good at.
Later in the film, she flies to New York to help her sister with her wedding preparations during which she enrolls herself in a 4 week English language program. At the wedding, both her husband and her daughter feel embarrassed as Shahsi (Sridevi) makes a toast in English. Her transformation is more of political commentary on gender roles and our never-ending colonial hangover.
After her fiancé turns her down days before their wedding, Rani (played by Kangna Ranaut) decides to go on their honeymoon, alone. Her experiences as a woman, especially a woman not as confident and outgoing, as claimed by her fiancé which was also the reason why he called off the wedding, are honestly very refreshing.
Rani is each of us and all of us are Rani. The time she spends in Amsterdam with strangers, making friends, making decisions, laughing, crying, breaking down and pulling herself together are sheer lioness qualities. Rani’s character is an apt representation of women doing better off without men. And maybe, just maybe all women need some time off with their own true selves, some time to heal. Some time to rejuvenate.
She embodies fearlessness as she walks the roads of unknown cities, letting go off societal constrains. She returns as her true self, ready to claim what is hers.
Alankrita Shrivastava’s hauntingly real tale of four Indian women took Bollywood by storm.
– Usha, an elderly woman, hopelessly in love with a younger man.
– Rehana, a college freshman belonging to a lower-middle-class Muslim family, hiding her true self under a burkha every time she goes out.
– Shireen, a housewife with an abusive husband trying to hide her job and her contraceptives.
– Leela, a young sexually active beautician whose mother’s only wishes is to get her married to a well-settled guy. All the while she’s very much in love with her boyfriend who she eventually wants to get married to.
The audience is an eye witness to the disaster their lives are and how they find solace in each other. We see their lives colliding in the end, helpless and full of questions.
Directed by Pradeep Sarkar, the movie revolves around a female cop in India. Shivani Roy played by Rani Mukharjee single-handedly chases a drug lord and child trafficker. The plot becomes even more intimate when he kidnaps Shivani’s mentee.
Employing a series of traps and finally luring him into a final showdown, Shivani beats him in a hand to hand combat during the final scenes. While the movie still sends shivers down my spine, it also constantly raises important questions of safety and security pertaining to women in the South Asian region.
Mardaani 2 is all set to release later in 2019 and we’re definitely looking forward.
Gritty, emotional and intense. The film revolves around an unsaid crime that was committed at a concert night in India. The alleged are three well-connected males, the opposition three females.
The men persistently hint towards the females being prostitutes on account of them being out at night, wearing revealing clothes, living alone, etc. etc. while in reality, the only crime committed was an act of self-defense when one of the females clearly said “no” to an offer.
The film is nothing less than an emotional rollercoaster for women who dare. Their only hope is a retired lawyer (played by Amitab Bachan) who wins the case for them with his closing remarks “No…No means no, and does not require further explanation”.
The film’s song Kari Kari is sung by our very own Quratulain Baloch and was also nominated for the best playback singer at the Film Fare awards 2017.
The list of powerful female-centric roles goes on with Parched, Fire, Ek Larki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, Neerja and many more. What are some of your favorite Bollywood movies that inspire you to conquer your fears and fight for your dreams?
Maryam’s a Communication and Design major and an English and Comparative Literature minor at Habib University. She thoroughly enjoys reading South Asian Literature and is a Partition Literature enthusiast, who is often found admiring the origins of cultural theory.
While one may occasionally find her at events catering to art and culture in Karachi, she would much rather be home binge-watching British comedy.
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