Bollywood’s 12 most iconic women-centric films

In the past few years, the film industries have bestowed us with several women-oriented films. Last year itself, we saw an avalanche of films such as Queen, Mardaani, Mary Kom and many more with women as the sole protagonist. With feminism and women empowerment a hot topic worldwide, Hindi cinema is not far behind in promoting such topics. As a matter of fact, projecting women in a strong light goes back a long way. So with International Women’s Day coming up this weekend, here’s a list of some iconic films that celebrate the power and true expressions of women.

Mother India (1957)

An epic cult classic film directed by Mehboob Khan, which graced the cinema in the 50s. This film itself is an example that women empowerment is not a relatively new topic in Hindi cinema. Showcased at several film festivals, this masterpiece continues to remain as one of the best women-centric films of all time.

Arth (1982)


Bollywood’s two most talented actresses Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil beautifully showcased the various emotions of a woman in Arth. With one rebelling against her husband for his infidelity, the other succumbs to the guilt of being the ‘other woman’. Touted as one of the iconic films, it’s a must-see for the stupendous acting by the ensemble cast.

Mirch Masala (1987)

Set in the 1940s, Mirch Masala featuring Smita Patil as Sonbai made its way to several international films festival during its time. Moreover, it also made it to the Forbes list as one of the ’25 Greatest Acting Performances in Indian Cinema’. Need we say more?

Damini (1993)

Meenakshi Sheshadri‘s iconic role as Damini is remembered even today. With rape being one of the major concerns in the society today, the story of Damini enlightens us as to how a woman must fight for justice even if it isn’t for herself.

Bandit Queen (1994)

Whenever a woman rebels, she is labelled as the Bandit Queen, instantly! Isn’t it? But are you even aware about the story of this rebellious woman? Directed by Shekhar Kapoor, Bandit Queen featuring Seema Biswas took the nation by storm, with the brave portrayal of a woman as an uncouth tribe leader.

Godmother (1999)

Veteran actress, Shabana Azmi has several classic films to her credit and Godmother is definitely one of them. Her role as an influential mafia leader, who goes against the corrupt political system is class apart. The film strongly promotes how women are no longer vulnerable at the hands of men.

Pinjar (2003)

Pinjar is a story of a woman’s fight against the society, norms, her family and most of all, herself. Set during the Indo-Pak partition, it showed us how a woman efficiently overcomes her vulnerability and ventures out to set things right. Featuring Urmila Matondkar and Manoj Bajpai in lead roles, the film strongly pursues the message of self-empowerment.

Dor (2006)

Directed by Nagesh Kukunoor, Dor preaches a completely different emotion of a woman. The story throws light upon the understanding shared between two complete strangers (women). Especially, on how one of them displays the strength of forgiving the other woman’s husband, who is apparently responsible for her widowhood.

English Vinglish (2012)

There couldn’t have been a better comeback for Sridevi than this! She effortlessly portrayed the role of a mother, who sets out to prove her capabilities, when her weaknesses are challenged. The story basically preaches the fact that one should empower a woman and not feed on her in-capabilities.

Kahaani(2012)

Vidya Balan has delivered several blockbuster films in the past few years and her role in Kahaani is undoubtedly one of her best till date. To portray the role of a pregnant woman in search her missing husband was definitely a task on her hand. However, Vidya carried it off with elan. The film basically enlightened us as to what extent a woman can go to, if she is determined about it.

Mardaani(2014)

2014’s sleeper hit, Mardaani was a hard-hitting film that aimed to highlight women safety in the country. Rani‘s role as a police officer was praised by not only the masses but also the police department of Mumbai. So much that she was recently felicitated with an award.

Queen(2014)

One of the best films of 2014, Kangana‘s Queen was appreciated and loved by the masses. The film beautifully takes us on a journey of a woman who transform from a naive young girl to a free-spirited and strong woman. This light-hearted film is definitely a must-watch for all.

There you have it, some of the most iconic women-centric films in Bollywood. So this weekend, go on a movie marathon and catch on these films if you haven’t! Also let us know your favorites. 

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