Kangana Ranaut is back to tweeting with fearless abandon, which considering she is not a stand-up comic, makes complete sense.
And as per her latest tweet, no “woman-centric film” caused an impact equivalent to her 2019 film Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi.
Thank you …. never in cinemas a woman centric film caused such an impact… I am sure Thalaivi, Dhakaad, Tejas will continue the tradition… love to all my fans ❤️ https://t.co/VXIRJSYLKF— Kangana Ranaut (@KanganaTeam) March 15, 2021
There is no denying the fact that Manikarnika was based on one of the most inspiring women in Indian history. But, as far as impactful Hindi women-centric films are concerned, where would these films place?
Kangana Ranaut’s own film, Queen, was a breath of fresh air when it released, revamping the idea of female-centric comedies.
2. English Vinglish
Gauri Shinde turned a housewife into the hero of a comedy-drama in a wholly unexpected manner, while simultaneously throwing light on how the women of the house are generally treated in most desi households.
Long before even the discussion of LGBTQ+ stories was a part of mainstream cinema, Deepa Mehta gifted us Fire, a film on same-sex relationships, starring Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das.
Based on the real-life story of the Phogat sisters, Dangal is easily one of Bollywood’s finest sports-drama, which also saw 4 new female stars emerge.
One of the earliest films to actually address a woman’s sexual desire and need for intimacy, Astitva was a progressive story that also shed light on the problems of toxic masculinity, misogyny, and spousal abuse.
Easily one of the finest films to have come out of Bollywood in recent times, Thappad was not just a story about domestic abuse. It also highlighted the far-reaching and often insidious effects of patriarchy and male entitlement.
7. Mirch Masala
Mirch Masala changed the shape of Hindi cinema. It showcased with unerring accuracy the extent of abuse women suffer, while also highlighting the need for women empowerment, long before empowerment became a ‘trend’.
In a world of crime-dramas, where actresses are often relegated to playing the victim or the supporting character, Damini gave us a real-life, female superhero who stood for what is right, even when society turned against her.
9. No One Killed Jessica
Yet another film based on a real-life story, No One Killed Jessica didn’t just highlight the depth of a sibling bond. Rather, it also served two female protagonists who were nothing alike in personality but united for a cause. Because not all feminists look the same. But every one of them is fighting for justice.
10. Lipstick Under My Burkha
Contrary to most women-centric films, Lipstick Under My Burkha offered neither a revolutionary solution to women’s issues nor did it preach. It simply held a mirror to the society, while also becoming one of the first Hindi feminist films to offer an intersectional view at women’s issues.
Kahaani is one of the finest examples of a ‘woman-centric’ film that does not focus on women’s issues alone. Because we can have movies with female leads, that all genders can relate to.
One of the finer biopics to have come out of Bollywood, Neerja was a stark reminder that courage in trying times is not dependent on a person’s gender, but rather a person’s innate strength and sense of compassion.
13. Nil Battey Sannata
A beautiful exploration of the mother-daughter bond, Nil Battey Sannata is a story that never fails to tug at your heartstrings.
Bollywood may have adapted a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to patriotic films. But Meghna Gulzar broke the norm by gifting us Raazi – a story that proved that courage is not defined by gender and patriotism exacts a cost from even the most dedicated soldiers.
15. Margarita With A Straw
In Hindi cinema’s long history, only a handful of movies have dealt with stories of differently-abled people with a nuanced sensitivity. And Margarita With A Straw is definitely one of them. From presenting female sexual desires to same-sex relationships, the creators ensured the protagonist of Margarita With A Straw was more than just her ‘disability’.
NH10 served a complex female character by going back to the most basic emotions (fear, loss, rage, survival instinct) that drive humans, irrespective of their gender. Kudos to Anushka Sharma for producing and starring in a film that forced us to look at women in a different light.
Most mainstream movies either pit women against each other or fail the Bechdel test when it comes to representing female friendships. But Dor surpassed the tropes to present a female friendship that was beautifully honest and undoubtedly empowering.
18. Chak De! India
Women, of different ethnicities and from diverse backgrounds, come together under a tough coach and revive India’s national sport – Chak De! is as inspirational as it gets. Because cricket and men don’t have the sole authority on nationalism!
19. Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl
Based on an inspiring true story, Gunjan Saxena may have been mired in controversies upon its release, but what no one can deny is that it was a story worth telling. If for no other reason, then to simply remind society that dreams should never be gendered.
20. Mary Kom
While the casting was questionable (with respect to representation, not talent), the biopic did bring to light an inspiring story of grit and determination.
Unless you’re living in your own bubble, it’s hard to ignore the impact of these films.