Underrated Indian Feminist Films: Bollywood and OTT platforms have finally woken up to feminism and the importance to talk about it on the big screen. But the quintessential question is are we doing enough to give women the space they deserve on screen. In recent times, directors have come up with intriguing and inspiring stories about women. So here are seven underrated must-watch women-centric movies which shook us to our core.
A widow, a childless woman and a sex worker fight through the patriarchy that has held them by the throat to live their lives as free women. The film explores a multitude of issues about women in India, and how even today women are treated as mere sex objects that are owned and thrown away at men’s convenience. It also talks about severe social evils like child marriage which is still very much practiced by people and is prominently prevalent in different parts of India.
Angry Indian Goddesses
This is a film that will make you feel very, very enraged. Not because of the story, but simply because of how it reflects on life. Just a bunch of young, driven women from different walks of life coming together and trying to have fun, trying to live their lives, but it’s never that easy to be a vocal woman in India, right? The story will leave you speechless and in a fix of feelings in the end.
Matrubhoomi: A Nation Without Women
Imagine a world without women. This film is exactly that. A world where men live like savages, where bestiality is acceptable but homosexuality is not. A world where a woman is the most precious gift, but also a mere sexual object. The film is outrageous in its account of the male chauvinism and the mistreatment of women in India. This film will leave you uncomfortable to the point of nausea, and it is not for the faint-hearted. But you must watch it for one single reason – to understand the perplexing subtleties which shape our society.
Lipstick Under My Burkha
A film about female quest for freedom, it has the ability to grab a person by the collar, shake them up to the core and make them feel unsettled even if they refuse to introspect. The performances are particularly powerful. Lipstick Under My Burkha is unforgiving in its construct, realistic commentary, and entirely unapologetic about the mirror it holds up to Indian patriarchy, and reminds men that women – even those old enough to be their mothers – can have sexual desires, free choices and make their own life decisions. It’s shameless. It’s fearless. And it’s relentless. And that’s why you’ll love it.
This one’s an understated gem. Two policewomen in New Delhi rub up against sexual harassment, gender expectations, and the exhaustion of the job’s constant pressures. The story shows what it is to be a woman in the police force and a working woman in the Indian society, their battles on professional and personal fronts. They face setbacks but get up again only to stand even stronger. You should watch Soni for how brave and beautiful it is.
A Special Mention For Two Short Films:
This 14-minute short film is a snapshot of what every middle class Indian home looks like at some point or the other, particularly when it comes to the gender dynamics between spouses. Defined ‘duties’ are determined for every gender in our households and society dictates the terms.
Even though Juice speaks about a larger issue at hand — internalised patriarchy and misogyny, it is in its ordinariness, simplicity, subtlety and silence that we get a sense of what the film is truly trying to talk about. How society is so strict about the so-called gender roles and how this shapes the everyday lives of so many women in India. Juice has the power to move you. It stays with you. And therefore, you must watch it.
In the old chaotic city of Hyderabad, 18-year-old Raisa hatches a dangerous and improbable plan to save her younger sister from becoming a one-day bride. Leeches, the loathsome creatures have been used metaphorically for the rich men who indulge in the malicious practice of hiring brides and discarding them. It’s disturbing. It’s upsetting. It’s unsettling. But I promise you, it’s worth a watch.