In the last couple of years, we have seen a growing trend of women-centric movies across various cinema industries in India. Although misogyny in Indian Cinema has yet to disappear or even tone down, as you might have acknowledged while reading my blog post last week ( if you haven’t, you can click here ), it is extremely comforting and empowering to see women take on new projects that women in the audience can identify with and look up to. Therefore, here are some of my favourite women characters throughout the years whether they are from women-centric movies or not.
1. Sweety from Size Zero/Inji Iduppazhagi , Telugu/Tamil, 2015 portrayed by Anushka Shetty.
Size Zero/ Inji Iduppazhagi, Telugu/Tamil,2015. Image Credit ; love-indian-actress.tumblr.com
Definitely an obvious favourite of mines for many reasons, I think this was a well-needed character. Sweety is a happy, optimistic and relatable character in every way possible. Although she lost her father at a tender age, he gave her a big legacy : his fun-loving personality and positive outlook on life. Sweety promotes self-love, determination and perseverance for her cause in this movie that deals with weight loss programs and body image for women. A movie that left me content and satisfied when I left the seat.
2. Mili from Mili , Malayalam, 2015 portrayed by Amala Paul.
Mili ,Malayalam,2015. Image Credit; love-indian-actress.tumblr.com
If you have two hours to spare, even if you don’t low-key, please do yourself a favour and watch Mili. Malayalam films have , in my opinion and probably a lot would agree, the most watch worthy films among all industries in India. The reason is simple : their storylines are realistic, highlights real issues that often can be taboo and a lot of movies have equivalent screen space for both gender. For an industry that has only started in 1947 and one of the youngest, they certainly go way further than a lot of us did wether it’s with the quality cinematography or the excellency of the storylines. Mili is no exception to those categories of films as it tells us the story of a young women facing depression among an entourage who provides her with no help and shuns her away. The rest of the story forms on how she deals with her feelings and gives herself a chance to take her life back in hands. An excellent film that brings awareness to mental illnesses.
3. Chandra from Nil Battey Sannata , Hindi, 2016 portrayed by Swara Bhaskar.
Nil Battey Sannata ,Hindi,2016. Image credit ; love-indian-actress.tumblr.com
Chandra is a single mother who works 3-4 jobs daily to fulfill her and her daughter’s needs. Being a high school drop-out who struggles for a living, she wishes to see her daughter get a good education and occupy a good job, unlike her. However, her daughter Apu is an unmotivated student who think she is destined to work as a maid like her mother. Realizing her daughter is struggling in school and she can’t afford to pay someone to help her, Chandra decides to attend school herself and joins Apu’s class so she can later on help her. The story shares the evolution of the relationship between mother-daughter and the struggles of a single mother. The movie was later remade the same year in Tamil under the name Amma Kannaku.
4. Meenu and Sowmya from Kandukondain Kandukondain, Tamil, 2000 portrayed by Aishwarya Rai Bachan and Tabu.
Kandukondain Kandukondain ,Tamil, 2016. Image Credit ; shahnyeol.tumblr.com
Now this movie takes us a long way back in time, nevertheless it is truly a gem of Kollywood. Based on Jane Austen’s English novel Sense and Sensibility , Meenu and Sowmya have very contrasting personalities. They both showcase strength in their own ways and are characters women can look up to, relate to and learn from. Sowmya is an introvert who takes her family’s well-being upon herself and when doing so , she feels the necessity to hold back her emotions in order to subside to her family’s needs , thus representing the sense of the novel. Meenu, unlike her sister, is an extrovert and optimistic young soul that dreams big for herself, keen of music and poetry, she represents the sensibility of the novel. However, Sowmya has a part sensibility in herself as she cares for others and Meenu, has a part sense because she prioritizes her ambitions. Through out the movie, they both face many struggles, from financial problems to love and relationship issues, both characters evolve and towards the end , finding a balance between sense and sensibility : Sowmya was finally able to let her emotions out and thus show her sensibility and Meenu realizes it isn’t always all about emotions, sometimes you need sense too, as she got betrayed by one who prioritized sens before sentiments. This is an accurate depiction of women in our community, in my opinion, many women have ambitions but their sensibility gets in the way of accomplishing things for themselves and many others have sentiments but their sens gets in the way of expressing those sentiments. When you priories yourself, people think you lack sensibility and when you priories others, you lack sense but for a women it seems as the second option is always more tolerated and encouraged by society. The movie perfectly conveys the inner-conflict of women who struggle to find a balance between sens and sensibility in this complicated world we live in.
Watch the movie here.
5. Nirupama from How Old Are You? , Malayalam, 2014 portrayed by Manju Warrier.
How Old Are You ? , Malayalam, 2014. Image Credit ; love-indian-actress.tumblr.com
Nirupama works in an office and leads a tedious life. Her husband wishes to emigrate to Ireland , however she is held back in India as she can’t find a job in Ireland since companies cite her age as an issue. She faces criticism and humiliation by her relatives which pushes her to self-realization. She desires to accomplish something in order to create change in her life. The movie persuades the audience that age isn’t a barrier and you can accomplish much more than you think you are able to if you set your mind to it. An empowering film for women and people who feel like they are too old to accomplish something. The movie was remade in Tamil in 2016 under the name 36 Vayadhinile , marking the comeback of actress Jyothika.