The Hindi film actresses have moved on from being the damsels in distress (abala naari) to being the woman of importance and strength who stands for her rights, raises her voice against unfairness, fights for her dignity and self-respect, and rebels when she has to get the proper rights and justice.
This International Women's day 2022, we have curated a list of all the nerve-wracking movies where women played the lead role and set the benchmark in the men-oriented industry.
Mother India (1957)
Mother India is a classic from the early days of Indian cinema. It was a groundbreaking film at the time. It is regarded as one of Nargis Dutt's most memorable and iconic performances. Nargis plays Radha, a poor villager who struggles against all odds to raise her two sons. The villagers regard her as the epitome of justice and a god-like figure. She kills her immoral son for the sake of righteousness, adhering to her principles.
Mirch Masala (1987)
Ketan Mehta tells the story of ordinary women here. Mirch Masala was led by Smitha Patil (Sonbai), who chooses to decline every powerful authority, the subedar played by Naseeruddin Shah and the village head (played by Suresh Oberoi), to protect herself from his evil gaze. Deepti Naval plays the wife of the Village Mukhiya. The latter revolts against her husband for his atrocities against her desire to educate their daughter. This is a truly inspiring story of women's empowerment during regressive times.
Astitva, directed by Mahesh Manjrekar, exposes Indian society's male chauvinist culture. It brings to light extramarital affairs and spousal abuse prevalent in the community but goes unnoticed. This film is about Aditi Shrikant Pandit, played by Tabu, trying to find her own identity outside of her marriage and eventually moving away from her husband and son, aided by her future daughter-in-law Namrata Shirodkar, who also leaves the chauvinist boyfriend.
No One Killed Jessica (2011)
This film is based on the true story of Jessica Lal's murder. It tells the story of Jessica's elder sister, Sabrina Lal, played by Vidya Balan, who fights the wealthy and powerful man who shot her sister. Rani Mukerji plays a grizzled journalist who assists Vidya Balan in her fight against odds. The film demonstrates that even a common woman can overcome adversity and fight for justice. Rajkumar Gupta directed the film.
English Vinglish (2012)
After all the years, it was the comeback for Sridevi; English Vinglish was a blockbuster. English Vinglish tells the story of Shashi Godbole, an ordinary housewife played by Sridevi. It depicts beautifully how the housewife, who is brilliant as a homemaker, wife, and mother, is looked down on and mocked by her daughter and husband simply because she does not speak fluent English. Shashi Godbole, who is hurting, turns things around by learning the language while visiting her niece's wedding in the United States. Gauri Shinde's simple story is impressive, as she overcomes her flaws.
Kangana Ranaut's performance as Rani, a young girl, is stunning in Queen. It's heartbreaking when Vijay, played by Rajkumar Rao, tells Rani just a day before the wedding that he no longer wants to marry her. The simple, small-town girl is broken, but she soon decides to stand up for herself and go on a honeymoon by herself. During her journey, she meets new friends, learns about the world and herself, and returns a changed person, ready to take charge of her life.
Mardaani is the tale of a female cop, Shivani Roy. It's played by Rani Mukerji, who fights the kingpin of organised crimes involving child trafficking and drugs. It shows how the lady officer opposes female trafficking in the city. This movie also had a second part where she after a psychopath killer and raper who had destroyed the lives of innocent girls.
The film, directed by Neerja Bhanot, is based on the true story of a flight purser who was shot and killed while ensuring the safety of hundreds of passengers aboard the hijacked Pan Am Flight 73. Sonam Kapoor plays Neerja with grit and panache.
It was another movie where she played the role of a mother who would go to any extent to protect her child. Mom is the story of a mother who seeks vengeance for her daughter's rape and death after the law denies her justice. Sridevi portrays a simple mother who transforms into a cunning woman to avenge her daughter's death. As a result of injustices provided by the authorities, she took the path where she made sure the culprits pay the price.
We are often told that a little aggression in love is an expression of love. Yet, why, what is the cost of one slap and where do the boundaries between love and taking your partner for granted dissolve? This Anubhav Sinha gem answers it all. Tappasee Pannu is extraordinary as Amrita.