Women in Bollywood: A Journey from Sati Savitri to Mary Kom

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Films are an integral part of Indian societies. They have constantly shaped the beliefs and mindsets of Indian people for over a hundred years now. A few decades ago, women were limited to sari-clad damsels, who were perfect homemakers and exceptional mothers. However, the women’s role in Bollywood movies has drastically transformed in the last decade. Here’s an insight into the changing roles of women in Bollywood, where she has metamorphosed from the Sati Savitri image to that of the assertive Mary Kom. Read more in the weekly column, exclusively in .

India is a country, which produces around 1000 movies in a year. Only four percent of the Indians go to the movies regularly and they have made Bollywood, the world’s largest filmmaking entity the planet had ever seen before.

While we would like to assume that nobody knows anything about Bollywood outside India, it is quite popular in countries like UK, Australia, Canada, Africa, US, Japan, Russia, and .

Films are an integral part of Indian societies. They have constantly shaped the beliefs and mindsets of Indian people for over a hundred years now. A few decades ago, women were limited to sari-clad damsels, who were perfect homemakers and exceptional mothers. However, the women’s role in Bollywood movies has drastically transformed in the last decade.

Women have more to do in movies nowadays than sing and dance with the male actors. The 21st century gave birth to women who wanted to break free. They understood that roles they play on the screen do not define their individuality. The female actors were willing to explore their .

For example, Tabu played the role of a 34-year-old in love with a man double her age in Cheeni Kum was rebellious and brave for the audience.

English Vinglish changed the way we look at homemakers unable to communicate in English. Sridevi played the role of a woman, who decided to learn to speak in English to be accepted by her husband and children.

Queen was another movie where Kangana played the role of a simple girl who was dumped for not being “modern”, travels abroad alone for a honeymoon. She walks out of an abusive relationship and taught us all a lesson that men do not define our lives.

Highway, Mardani, Mary Kom, Gulab Gang, Piku, Dil Dhadakne Do, Masaan, Margarita with a Straw, Dor, Neerja, Zubeida, Talwar, Parched are just a few examples of movies portraying and fiercely powerful female characters.

Here are the Movies you must watch to witness the tsunami of change in women characters of Bollywood this year;

  1. Begum Jaan

Begum Jaan is a movie about a brothel that becomes a victim of India-Pakistan partition and how few women fight against the entire system for their rights. Set in Punjab, the movie Begum Jaan also features Pallavi Sharda, Gauahar Khan, Ila Arun, Flora Saini, Ridhima Tiwari among others. Begum Jaan is slated to hit the screens in the year 2017.

  1. Maatr

Maatr deals with the violence against women, further highlighting the system’s failure in granting the justice. It is rising up the question, “Who is the victim – law or the common man?”

  1. Mom

Mom is a movie produced by Boney Kapoor. It features Sridevi, Nawazuddin, and Akshaye Khanna. This movie is about a mother who has to undergo severe trauma for her children.

  1. Phillauri

A movie featuring Anushka Sharma as a ghost haunting a man. This caters to two social evils of our , love marriages and manglik rituals.

  1. Naam Shabana

 The journey of a college girl who turns into a trained spy with an important mission for the country.

The surge of women-centric films is an important narrative in the social context of India. A change is blowing in the wind. This shift in the relationship of the women shapes and asserts her identity in our collective consciousness.

©Nikita Goel

Photos sourced by the author.

#IndianCinema #WomenInCinema #BollywoodHeroines #WomenOnIndinaScreen #WomenCentricMovies #WomenCharaters #RelationshipRationale #DifferentTruths

Nikita Goel

Nikita Goel

Nikita Goel is a Texas-based writer. She is actively associated with Aagaman Literary and Cultural Society’s English Publications. She has worked as the managing editor for Purple Hues. She has co-authored three books. Her poems have been published in five anthologies. She has been featured online on Readomania, Aagaman -The Arrival, Writers e-zine, Writing Geeks, Literary and Creativity Magazine. Her blog, Enchantress, has been adjudged India’s best blog for three consecutive years.
Nikita Goel
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