Bollywood has not exactly had the best reputation for bringing up strong and fierce female characters. For the longest time, female characters have had a very similar purpose in Bollywood movies, which was to either be a male protagonist’s love interest or be eye candy. Given the extremely unrealistic standards that society has for women, most movies required the actress to fulfill both of these purposes. These women would have no personal ambitions or goals and feel satisfied in furthering the character development of their male counterparts. Needless to say, the representation of women in Bollywood has been less than satisfactory for the longest. However, it doesn’t mean that there have been zero female characters that stray away from these stereotypes. Every once in a while, there comes a movie that provides relief to the heart of countless women where they can look at the multiple facets that they embody on screens, in the form of a character.
Outstanding Female Characters From Bollywood
Movies have a profound link to reality and this relationship is founded on their ability to show us the world in ways that other art forms cannot. Cinema reflects society and in turn, has an impact on society by altering representations, posing moral dilemmas, and changing viewers’ perceptions. Women portrayals in movies have frequently been lacking, failing to help women reach their full potential, from being used as props or ‘objects’ of desire to being relegated to roles that never achieve the same level of development as a male character would. However, there have been portrayals that have consistently stood out, deftly capturing the delights, sufferings, issues, and complexities of women.
The Hindi entertainment sector has given its female characters a close, in-depth study during the past ten years. Women who are fearless, strong, compassionate, and career-focused have taken over our screens and finally provided us with the role model we sorely needed. Here are some of the characters who were able to provide excellent representation for women all over the country.
1. Shashi Godbole (English Vinglish, 2012)
Gauri Shinde’s touching debut captures the small patriarchal complications pouring through the blood of Indian homes, in addition to highlighting the most powerful comeback in contemporary Hindi cinema. As done by the late Sridevi, who recreated Shashi Godbole, an Indian typical housewife, with such amazing grace that her role enabled the movie to accuse the family members without completely villainizing them.
Her movements, speech, hesitation, and responses change depending on the environment. And hence, it is never deemed like she’s making a remark for a movie, instead, her conclusion is unassuming, respectful, and essential. Even as she learns a unique language, she is effectively discovering a new medium for herself. One would particularly love her sections with her English language classmates – like the gentle flowering of a wilting flower – possibly because you would see so much of your own mother in Shashi.
2. Geet Dhillon (Jab We Met, 2007)
When the film Jab We Met was released in 2007, every female imagined being a Geet Dhillon. She was the firecracker, played by Kareena Kapoor Khan, who lived in her dreamland and marched to her beat. Despite having the fiery demeanor of “Bhatinda ki Sikhni,” she also had a weak side. Geet’s dialogue, “Main apni favorite hoon,” is still among the most famous quotes ever.
Even though no one seemed to be listening, she enjoyed expressing herself! Geet created her own set of guidelines so she could take ownership of her mistakes. She wouldn’t make any concessions. When life finally catches up with her, the only person she curses is herself. Geet Dhillon was never like the women we’d seen in our movies for a very long time. She debuted at a time when female characters were trying to escape the stigma of only serving as the glam element in films. Like a hurricane, she overcame everything in her way.
3. Aisha Banerjee (Wake Up Sid, 2009)
Aisha was perplexed by the clichéd guidelines established by “others.” She offers Sid a place to stay when he unexpectedly leaves his home. She gives no thought to how having a man live with her will be viewed by “them.” In a circumstance where males were most hesitant about their decisions, Aisha knew exactly what she wanted. She was honest about her goals while hunting for a job, and even had the guts to decline her boss’s suggestion of a jazz night.
Like that one confidante, we all need in our lives to assist us to get out of any predicament. Aisha was collected, mature, and modest. Her vulnerability was hidden behind her deep, penetrating eyes and the slivers of her smile were a breath of fresh air. Back then, Bollywood had scarcely ever seen a woman like Aisha, who is affable and direct about her goals without stirring any trouble. She instilled in us the conviction that life is lovely and that dreams come true.
4. Neelam Mehra (Dil Dhadakne Do, 2015)
Shefali Shah’s face is a cinema of emotions as Neelam Mehra, a wealthy middle-aged housewife (or mansion-wife) defined by a dysfunctional marriage. Her eyes communicate so much pain, humiliation and self-loathing that her scathing reactions to her adulterous husband and mollycoddled son appear to be the most natural coping method. It can be difficult to portray a character who doesn’t believe a word she says.
However, the seasoned actor does an excellent job of portraying her art meticulously. It’s not that women like Neelam don’t deserve a heroic departure narrative, but presenting their end as anything more than a happy-sad tragedy can come across as dishonest to the artist in charge.
5. Kaira (Dear Zindagi, 2016)
Therapy may not be as glamorous as it was in Dear Zindagi, nor is it as simple to locate a therapist who fits you perfectly on the first try. Despite its flaws, Kaira’s portrayal of a young adult dealing with mental health issues is as realistic as it gets. She had always kept her emotions inside because she was too terrified to contact anyone.
Currently, she views conflict as being too inconvenient and difficult. You cannot predict how your previous trauma might affect your present, but you very well can and should ask for help, whenever necessary. That’s what Kaira does. She seeks help from a therapist after admitting she has problems. She believes in him and is working on taking the necessary time to begin the process of learning, unlearning, and most importantly, healing. And isn’t that crucial, particularly in a mainstream film?
These were some of the best female characters that Bollywood has churned in the past. It’s high time that filmmakers realize the importance of optimal representation in movies and write characters with empathy and grace.