The changing role of women in Bollywood

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Akira - StillIn a recent interview for her upcoming film Akira, which releases in cinemas on 2nd September, actress Sonakshi Sinha mentioned that this is a great time to be a woman in Indian cinema. According to her, not only are women getting to play good characters, but the audience too, has become more accepting of these roles.

Looking back over the last couple of years and the types of films that have released in India, we couldn’t agree more.

From a damsel in distress to a figure of power, women have come a long way in Bollywood. With characters especially created keeping women in mind, this points to a new wave in Indian cinema, where women are being trusted to carry a film to box office success. This is a stark difference from the previous notion that the role of the protagonist was reserved only for a male character.

Today, women in unconventional and dominant roles are appreciated and respected by audiences the world over.

Bollywood has traditionally portrayed the woman as timid, submissive and vulnerable. She was the perfect home maker, while bolder roles were mostlyassociated with antagonists with loose morals. 

Today however, an actress demands and commands equal space on the silver screen as that of her male counterpart. The notion that only a hero can deliver a superhit in Bollywood has drastically changed. Over the years there has been a drastic transformation in the way women are depicted in cinema. Maybe it is the reflection of the society we live in, or maybe it is a portrait of the society we dream to live in. 

Let’s look at some films with female action heroes.

In Akira, starring Sonakshi Sinha, we see the actress in a rebellious avatar, where she packs a few punches, literally.

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Rani Mukerji’s Mardaani, a hard-hitting film about women trafficking, was a big hit. Mukerji’s unconventional role as a female cop garnered a lot of eyeballs for the film.

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NH10 wasn’t a blaring, loud film that screamed women empowerment. It was a film that instilled fear – a fear that taught us about survival instincts and gave us the courage needed for self-defence.

Poster for the movie "NH10"

Based on the life and struggles Mary Kom, India’s Olympic medal-winning boxing champion, the film is a sneak peek at the life of a sportswoman fighting for her spot in the game. Priyanka Chopra played the role with panache and power.

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A sequel to Ajay Devgn’s Gangaajal, Jai Gangaajal stars Priyanka Chopra, who plays the role of a tough policewoman fighting for justice against corruption in a challenging precinct.

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Akira is a gripping action thriller about a college girl Akira whose life spirals out of control when she becomes unwittingly involved in a crime involving a dead businessman, four corrupt police officers and a former dance bar hostess. Akira also stars Konkona Sen Sharma, Anurag Kashyap, Atul Kulkarni in pivotal roles. Produced by A. R. Murugadoss and Fox Star Studios, the film releases on 2nd September.

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