Gone are those days when in almost all movies there was a damsel in distress and an all-rounder macho hero came to save her. And to make things worse, sometimes the role of an actress was narrowed down to only one aspect such as "item numbers". There are times when we remember the actor’s role in the movie only by the item number, say for example, Katrina Kaif as Sheila in the movie, Tees Maar Khan. The public just went gaga over "Sheila’s jawaani" and everything else was vacuum.
However, times are changing and Bollywood today is all about the ladies getting geared up, doing action, drama, comedy and with some really impressive dance moves.
The Hindi film industry has always been a man’s domain for quite a long time. But recently with a series of heroine-oriented movies releasing, the trend of power-women on screen has been set ablaze. There is a sea change of representation of women in the Indian cinema. Although, it may not represent the real Indian women, we are definitely liking the change. With the current change in Bollywood, the stereotyped role of women have witnessed a phenomenal change.
Listed below are some of the female protagonists in recent movies who have changed the cliched image of women in Indian cinema:
Shabana Azmi as Radha and Nandita Das as Sita (Fire): Deepa Mehta’s Fire is a beautiful story of how two women against society’s norms found love and solace in each other. The movie is based on a subject which is still a taboo in India – Homosexuality. Radha and Sita’s tender love for each other broke the societal norms and questioned the role of a woman in an orthodox society where everything zeroes down to being submissive.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as Kiranjit Ahluwalia (Provoked): Physical abuse is a term which we’ve heard many a time. Provoked is a movie about how a woman ended up in prison after accidentally killing her abusive husband. Aishwarya as Kiranjit Ahluwalia did an extraordinary job. Her intense expressions and onscreen presence reflected both the sides of the character – a warm-hearted mother and wife and a never-say-die attitude of a fighter.
Sridevi as Shashi Godbole (English Vinglish): Shashi is a simple, sweet, and dedicated homemaker. Take any Indian housewife. Taunted by the husband and her teenage daughter for her bad English, Shashi decided to change her life for good by taking up Spoken English classes. And voila! Shashi not only started speaking English but also gave a small speech during a family function. The movie shows how a woman broke free from her insecurities and took a bold step to prove her capabilities.
Rani Mukerji as Michelle McNally (Black): It is said that nothing is impossible and it holds true in the case of Michelle McNally. She is a deaf and blind girl. Inspired by Helen Keller’s autobiograpghy "Story of my life" the critically-acclaimed movie tells the story of a girl who despite her disablities, managed to graduate after 12 years of struggle. Rani Mukerji as Michelle gave an excellent performance and received the Filmfare Award and Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actress amongst other awards.
Vidya Balan as Vidya Venkateshan-Bagchi (Kahaani): This can be counted as one of the best roles of Vidya Balan till date. Vidya Balan’s character had a great strength of character with a dash of humor as an added bonus. Her role broke free from the traditional helpless heroine with a dead husband. She took revenge to a new level and thankfully no Karan-Arjun-like melodrama was involved.
Priyanka Chopra as Susanna Anna-Marie Johannes (7 Khoon Maaf): Susanna is a blood-thirsty woman with a secret. She prefers killing her husbands over simply letting them go. In the movie, Priyanka credibly played the role of a woman who is determined to find the perfect man and in the process, leads to self-realization.
Rani Mukerji as Meera Gaity (No One Killed Jessica): Meet the no-nonsense, gutsy journalist, Meera Gaity. In the movie, the audience saw a workaholic, powerful and somewhat foul-mouthed Rani Mukerji. With awesome dialogue delivery and noteworthy acting, Rani just banged on the role of a career woman on a mission.
Parineeti Chopra as Zoya Qureshi (Ishaqzaade): She is a woman in love. A rebellious one. Parineeti Chopra plays the role of a feisty, strong-willed girl who roams around with a gun and has a keen interest in politics. A very different from the usual lover girls.
Tabu as Mumtaz P. Sawant (Chandni Bar): Tabu’s expression and style as a bar dancer was quite exemplary. In the movie, she was a bold and a determined woman who takes her own decisions. Though the movie’s plot was a bit dark, it successfully depicted a woman who is a ‘rebel’ and can go against society’s traditional norms.
Chitrangada Singh as Maya Luthra (Inkaar): Maya Luthra is beautiful, sexy and successful. Almost everything a woman wants. Inkaar is a story about sexual harassment at the workplace. The film shows how the female protagonist fights for equal rights and stands-up for herself in a male-dominated work environment.
Good news is – this new trend in Bollywood is going to stay for good. Many new movies are coming up where the focus is on women. Currently in the news is Madhuri Dixit-starrer Gulaab Gang where she is playing the role of a crusader of social injustice. Vidya Balan will be seen as a detective in her upcoming film, Bobby Jasoos. Don’t be surprised if you see Vidya as the central protagonist "Bobby" in the movie! Also in line is Rani Mukerji’s Mardaani. She will be playing a cop this time! Though much has not been revealed about the movie, rumors have it that it’s going to be a very "bold" movie to be produced by YRF.
So dear Indians, make way for all the power-struck pretty ladies!