RAISING A TOAST TO WOMEN: The year 2017 saw several films celebrate their indomitable spirit – Many Hindi films this year captured the myriad facets of women and showcased their real struggles. Whether it was battling stereotypes, embarking on a quest for self-identity or fighting for their rights, these movies proved how females always emerge supreme against all odds.
A mother seeking revenge for the atrocity that her daughter faced was a recurring theme in Bollywood this year but Ravi Udyawar’s thriller stood out for several reasons. It followed the story of a school teacher (played by Sridevi) who is a doting mom to her stepdaughter without the latter reciprocating in equal measure. The film not only captured the metamorphosis of a self-sacrificing matriarch into a blood-thirsty avenger but also portrayed the social stigma that a rape survivor faces. The biggest takeaways were the evolution of the mother-daughter relationship and how a woman never stops at anything when a tragedy befalls her family.
Suresh Triveni’s directorial debut chronicled the journey of a housewife into a career woman. Vidya Balan as Sulochana aka Sulu showed how she seeks happiness from the small joys of life. She is also quite vocal about her sexual needs when she subtly reminds her husband of his disappearing act from the bedroom due to his frenetic work schedule. As the sari — clad radio jockey who puts her pesky, insecure colleague in place and doles out advice to her listeners (mostly male) in a late-night show sensuously, Vidya’s Sulu was a superwoman with a difference.
LIPSTICK UNDER MY BURKHA
Alankrita Shrivastava’s Lipstick Under My Burkha explored the sexual awakenings and personal struggles of four small-town Indian women. Powerhouse performers such as Ratna Pathak Shah and Konkona Sen Sharma depicted how females strive to reclaim their lost identities and don’t shy away from expressing their sexual desires. Scenes like Ratna Pathak Shah’s secret telephone conversations and her fantasies about her hunky instructor stay with you long after the film is over.
While Hollywood has witnessed a few espionage thrillers with women in lead roles, Bollywood hasn’t had such movies. Taapsee Pannu broke more than one convention when she played an undercover agent in Naam Shabana. First seen in a miniscule but an impactful role in Baby, her character got a full-fledged outing when filmmaker Neeraj Pandey decided to base this on her as the protagonist. Taapsee played the fierce undercover agent, hailing from a middle-class Muslim family, who breaks the proverbial glass ceiling and strengthens her mental and physical prowess in the line of duty.
Advait Chandan’s directorial debut tackled several issues. It showcased the story of an aspiring small-town teenager who dreams of becoming a famous singer and how she battles her father to emerge supreme. Apart from Zaira Wasim’s performance, the other highlight of the film was Meher Vij’s portrayal of a supportive mother who defies her dominating husband and supports her daughter unabashedly.
ANAARKALI OF AARAH
Avinash Das’ directorial debut drove home the point that a woman has complete control over her body and life. Swara Bhaskar played a small-town nautch girl with a steely resolve. It depicted that just because a female sings and dances with abandon in front of men for a living, it doesn’t mean that her consent doesn’t matter when someone preys on her. It also showed how in a largely patriarchal society, it’s difficult to look at a woman beyond her body but easy to pass a judgment on her morals and scruples because of her profession.