When I think about female villains in Bollywood, few iconic characters come to mind (Gupt’s Isha, Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi’s Maya Madam, etc.).
But, there is no way that one can forget the ultimate femme fatal to have graced the silver screen, Sonia Roy from Aitraaz.
In 2004, only a year after her debut, Priyanka, who was three films old at the time (two of which had been mainstream Box Office hits), chose to play the villain in the romantic thriller, Aitraaz.
And it remains one of her finest, most critically acclaimed performances, to date.
Sonia Roy was the ‘other woman’ and it’s no secret that Bollywood has never been shy of exploiting that trope to establish the leading man’s ‘virtue’. The premise was the same in Aitraaz.
But Priyanka’s performance elevated the role to the point where even when you hated Sonia’s guts, you developed a grudging admiration for her single-minded focus and ambitious attitude.
Undoubtedly, falsely implicating a man of sexual assault because he rejected your advances is legally, and morally, the wrong thing to do.
But though it may appear to be unidimensional, Sonia was a layered character.
The film initially painted her as an evil, morally corrupt individual because she was unapologetic about getting an abortion or having men admire her modeling images.
In this instance, Sonia was as much a ‘victim’ of a patriarchal society, as any other woman.
And yet, she managed to use the same society to climb to the top of the food chain.
We don’t have to agree with her actions. But there’s something to be said about such ruthless ambition – a trait often considered to be a man’s prerogative.
Sonia Roy wasn’t just a well-written character, but also, a well-portrayed one. Priyanka, who won several awards for her performance, internalized the role and completely owned her character, conniving and manipulative as it was, to deliver a career-defining performance.
Over the years, Priyanka added several versatile characters to her filmography, but Sonia from Aitraaz continues to be one of her most exemplary performances.