Hindi films often feature strong and buff male characters, who fight the villains and save the day with their strength and sacrifice. However, there have been times when the female characters became the backbone of the story and stole the show with their amazing portrayal.
Mothers have always been portrayed as kind, caring, sacrificing and obedient in movies. They look after the family putting their desires and needs aside, they lose their identity and become someone’s wife, sister or mother. However, there have been films in which the matriarch characters reflected autonomy to choose, and agency to run system. These characters proved she can rule a kingdom, fight criminals or live a life on her choice. Let’s take peak into the films featuring matriarchs.
Female Centric Bollywood films with Strong Matriarchs
Madhuri Dixit’s Maja Ma revolved around the love story of a middle class boy and an NRI girl. The families are completely opposite of each other, but they come together for the sake of their children. However, when a video of the boy’s mother goes viral and initiates rumours about her, his marriage is in danger. His mother decides to stand up for herself and her dignity, save his son’s love life and prove to the society what she is capable of.
The Baahubali series featured two strong matriarchs in the form of Sivagami Devi and Devasena. Sivagami Devi’s husband was the heir to the throne of Mahishmati, but because of his scheming nature, Sivagami Devi ascended the throne. A capable warrior and ruler, she raised the two heirs to the throne after her, parting them with her own virtues and knowledge. Devasena, the mother of Mahendra Baahubali, was a warrior princess and the potential heir of Kuntala, because of her valour and administration skills.
Vidya Balan plays the role of Dr. Vidya, a gynaecologist by profession. She gets pregnant out of wedlock at a young and her boyfriend, Amol, asked her to get an abortion. She dumps him and decides to raise the child on her own. Her son is born with progeria, a rare genetic disorder. Dr.Vidya raises child with disability as a single mother and all dignity. She does everything in her power to provide care and love he deserved. Her character showed that a woman does not need a man to live a capable life.
Kajol plays the role of a single mother Eela Raiturkar in this movie. She is extremely protective of his son and is always nagging him, which compels him to leave the house to find space. Ela’s spouse departs leaving mother-son duo alone. Eela gave up her dream to raise her son and fought all the battles by herself. 22 years later, she rejoins college to complete her education and is encouraged by her son to pursue her dream of becoming a singer.
Starring Sonam Kapoor and Fawad Khan in lead roles, this 2014 movie featured the unconventional romance between a quiet, cold and young Indian prince Vikram and a quirky, bubbly and outgoing physiotherapist Mili. Actor Ratna Pathak Shah plays the cold and uptight Queen and the mother of the prince. The entire responsibility of the royal family fell on her shoulders, after an accident of her spouse. She has managed her royal duties with efficiency, proving to be a true ruler.
This movie is based on the story of Romeo and Juliet. it features two individuals from rival Gujarati families, who fall madly in love with each other. the couple faces resistance of their families. One of the two rival families, the Sanera, is headed by a strong and influential matriarch Dhankor baa. She leads the family’s business of uninhibited sale and manufacture of ammunition and arms and is a deadly opponent to the Rajadi.
Renuka Shahane directed Tribhanga starring Tanvi Azmi, Kajol and Mithila Palkar. It features three generations of strong, detached women, who are living their own lives separately, harbouring years of misunderstanding. When the eldest one of them, Nayan, falls into coma, her daughter Anu and granddaughter Masha come together to help in the making of her biography. They realise that despite of their unconventional and conflicting choices, they face similar turmoils in life.
Released in 2017, this movie starred Sridevi in the role of Devki Sabarwal, a strict biology teacher who strongly believes in her ideals and values. When she throws the phone of a male student out of the class window because he sends an offensive video to her stepdaughter Arya, the student exacts revenge on her by raping Arya. When the authorities could not punish the accused because of their political influence, she takes it on herself to make them repent for their crimes.
One of the most iconic Hindi films till date, this 1957 film featured the struggles of a poor ,but righteous woman who refuses to give in to the whims of a greedy landlord. She decides to raise her children independently facing never-ending struggles. Nargis Dutt played the lead role of the strong-willed matriarch Radha, who suffers the death of her spouse, mother-in-law and a flood that kills her two children. All she is left with poverty and her two eldest children starving. She decides to work in fields to feed and raise her kids instead of trading her integrity.
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