Bollywood Movies

8 women-centric Bollywood movies that broke new ground!

March 8, 20244 Mins Read

Today is International Women’s Day, a global holiday that honours women and their accomplishments. And what better way to celebrate this day, than charging up with the spirit of women supporting women?! So here’s a list of 8 women-centric Bollywood movies, that are bound to leave you inspired, if nothing else.

Chameli (2003)

A movie ahead of its time, Sudhir Mishra’s Chameli tanked at the box office but was critically acclaimed for its nuances and plot. It is a peaceful recluse that can be watched at the end of a long week. Chameli will make you smile, go awe and most importantly think. Kareena Kapoor proves her mettle as an actress and shows how perhaps one night our lives can change and unfold dramatically.

Margarita, With A Straw (2015)

Margarita, with a Straw pushes through radical ideas about disability. In her hunt for her ‘Majnoo’, Kalki Koechlin’s character Laila hops borders and sexualities. Does she succeed?

The best thing about this movie by Shonali Bose is that it often makes you forget that Laila has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. Laila is truthful, adventurous and challenges the world, one day at a time.

Lipstick Under My Burkha (2016)

Lipstick Under My Burkha, directed by Alankrita Shrivastava, explores the suppression of women’s sexuality. This piece of clothing is used to cover the conflicted lives of four women – all four of whom want to shake it off! This movie shows the blend of their little triumphs, paired with occasional setbacks while throwing light on women, who live outside India’s metropolises. It is a bold, brassy and colourful drama, that redefines the female gaze.

Dangal (2016) 

Nitesh Tiwari‘s Dangal is a subtle nod to gender equality. It is a true story based on the life of Mahavir Singh and his two daughters, Geeta and Babita Phogat. The film traces the journey of a father who trains his daughters to become world-class wrestlers. There’s a constant dialogue about levelling the playing field for the girl child. And then you have the wrestling bouts which look like the real deal!

Pink (2016)

Pink is a powerful statement on the existing feudal mindset of a majority of India, where men and women are judged by a different yardsticks. It is one of the first Bollywood movies that talks about ‘consent’ and has a compelling dialogue by Amitabh Bachchan, who says, “When a woman says no, it means no.” Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury steals the show with this one!

Mom (2017)

Mom, directed by Ravi Udyawar, is a story of a strong-headed mother Devki Sabarwal (Sridevi), who is high school teacher and is trying to win over her stepdaughter Arya. Further, as you might have guessed already, a gruesome crime is committed in the film and Sridevi finds herself fighting for justice. Mom also deals with the horror and trauma a rape victim experiences, which makes it a difficult but must-watch!

Thappad (2020)

Throwing a punch at patriarchy, Anubhav Sinha’s Thappad is a story that questions male entitlement. From the unquestioning contentment in domesticity to being taken for granted in marriage, from the humiliation of an unforeseen slap to actively questioning one’s complacency in a happy family setup — Thappad is all about a slow, steady and much-needed change.

Gangubai Kathiawadi (2022)

Loosely inspired by a real figure in Hussain Zaidi and Jane Borges’ book ’Mafia Queens Of Mumbai’, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Gangubai Kathiawadi is a celebration of the art and anguish of being a woman. A commanding performance from Alia Bhatt carries an immensely entertaining fusion of melodrama, incurable romanticism and the efforts to reclaim power.

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