No one can accuse mainstream Hindi movies of being progressive regarding matters concerning gender. We regularly have had fifty year old heroes romancing women in their twenties and mostly interchangeable female stock characters. There is your long suffering mother, your flirtatious but coy virginal heroine, sometimes a hero’s sister or a gangster’s moll. Fully realized female characters with their own motivations that did not fit in these neat boxes have been rare in Hindi cinema. So I am pleasantly surprised with the slate of new movies with fully realized female characters. I would like to see both these movies.
First there is the no nonsense Abha Mathur, the chief police officer in a lawless fictional district in Bihar, where there is little distinction between the elected representatives and the mob. Priyanka Chopra kicks butt both literally and figuratively in Prakash Jha’s Jai Gangajal.
Then there is Neerja, a biopic based on Neerja Bhanot,a flight attendant on the ill fated Pan-Am flight 73. directed by Ram Madhvani . Her presence of mind saved the lives of passengers on board. She died shielding children from bullets, days short of her 23 birthday. She also was a survivor of a bad arranged marriage and familiar face advertising chocolate and crackers on TV. A short life but a consequential one and an inspiration to us all.
Last but not the least, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani deserves a shout out. The women of Bajirao Mastani, whether it was the dutiful wife Kashi (Priyanka Chopra) or the doting mother Radhabai (Tanvi Azmi) , they were no pushovers and had no problems either speaking their mind or acting on their own agendas. My quick review here.
This trend warms the cockles of my cold cynical heart. Any other women centric movies you have seen lately or would like to see?