Feisty, strong and spunky women have been a rarity in Bollywood – an industry that prefers to have them in the background, dolled up and dancing around trees.
The tide is turning though, with stronger women characters coming to the forefront. Characters like Rani from Queen and Meera from NH10 have not only set in motion a new trend in Bollywood, but have also struck a chord with the audience.
Here’s a toast to some of the most inspiring female characters who have reaffirmed our faith in the power of womenfolk!
Basanti from ‘Sholay’
“Bhaag, Dhanno, bhaag, aaj teri Basanti ki izzat ka sawaal hai.” Rings a bell? The talkative tangewali from Sholay remains one of our all-time favourites. And why not? She made a strong statement and was way ahead of her times.
The firebrand Basanti (played by Hema Malini) was not just independent, but could also pack a few punches and stand up to male bullying. Yunkiiii, hai to Basanti kamaal!
Rosie from ‘Guide’
Guide’s Rosie (portrayed by Waheeda Rehman) was revolutionary for her time. Who would imagine that a woman in the 1960s could dare to dream, love whom she wanted to, and pursue her passion so unapologetically? She not only leaves her husband but also takes a lover, only to leave him for a career.
A quintessential rebel who dares to sing ‘Aaj phir jeene ki tamanna hai ‘ after leaving her husband, Rosie tells us to live it up! Life is too short to be unhappy.
Susanna from ‘7 Khoon Maaf’
Susanna Anna-Marie Johannes from 7 Khoon Maaf is a strong woman who unhesitatingly marries six times for love. But she also doesn’t think twice before killing all her husbands when they turn out to be brutes in their own way.
Susanna (Priyanka Chopra) shows us how to kick away patriarchy (although we recommend dumping, not bumping off, abusive partners) and not bow before societal norms. All it takes is a little courage!
Rani from ‘Queen’
The liberating journey of self-exploration that this girl-next-door undergoes has struck a chord with everyone. Rani (Kangana Ranaut) transforms from a shy, timid girl to a fiesty woman who goes on a solo-honeymoon. And finally, seeing her turn into someone who chooses freedom over a suffocating marriage is truly inspirational.
Who needs an overbearing husband when you can go to Paris and Amsterdam, make friends and have the time of your life!
Shivani from ‘Mardaani’
Rani Mukherjee’s portrayal of a fiery cop in Mardaani captures the true strength of a woman. A no-nonsense cop who knows her business, Shivani busts a child-trafficking racket on her own.
Along the way, she doesn’t refrain from giving the criminals a piece of her mind -- in a language they understand. As they say, you have to get your hands dirty at times.
Shashi from ‘English Vinglish’
Is there anything that a woman can’t do? This is exactly what Shashi’s journey in English Vinglish teaches us. Never say never, and never think too lowly of yourself -- because you have the power to turn things around.
Take a cue from Shashi (Sridevi), who’s never deterred by her shortcomings (which weren’t even a big deal in the first place). She jostles with the challenges, only to emerge a champion in the end. Ladies, are you listening?
Meera from ‘NH10’
How would you react if a loved one is snatched away from you? And that is not all. There is patriarchy, gang wars and an honour killing.
Transported accidentally into this muck, Meera (played by Anushka Sharma) fights the situation and gets her revenge, showing that even patriarchal, blood-thirsty goons can’t bully a woman.
Vidya from ‘Kahaani’
What can a pregnant woman possibly do? Vidya Bagchi from Kahaani tells us and how! The character defies all odds and smashes all stereotypes, all the time keeping the viewers on the edge.
Vidya (Vidya Balan) tells us that a woman is never too weak to stand up for what she believes in -- and those who disagree are only asking for trouble. And Vidya not only gets the better of her enemies, but also the system. Remember how the stubborn inspector Khan finally gave in to her and her ways?