Unconventional Strong Indian Women Characters: With the pandemic, the way we consume content has completely changed. There is no dearth of content to binge on the television and with the restrictions, due to COVID-19, even films are opting for direct OTT releases. Even though earlier the Bollywood films and the television content were in absolute different leagues, OTT has bridged the gap.
So, what has this done for the women actors? Is more woman-centric content getting the spotlight? Certainly, in the recent past, it has been women-led stories that have carved a niche for themselves. However, female characters have even managed to shine in stories where they are not in the lead, but have a significant impact on how the events unfold.
Here we look at five woman characters from recent Hindi shows and films that broke the mould and challenged long-held fictional stereotypes:
Raji in The Family Man 2
Actor Samantha Akkineni took a gamble to play the role of Rajalakshmi Sekharan or Raji, a militant. A traditional leading lady will rarely take up such a deglamorised role. Akkineni nails it as a deadly assassin who can kill without blinking an eyelid and how she disposes of a corpse in cold blood is bone-chilling. However, as we get to know more of her backstory we can empathise with her. Even though she was much appreciated for the part, the actor also faced a lot of criticism for being brown-faced as well.
Rani in Bombay Begums
The show marked Pooja Bhatt’s return to the screen as Rani. A 49-year-old newly-appointed CEO of a bank, she is also a stepmother to two who is constantly trying to win her children over. The arc of the relationship with her stepdaughter Shai is a refreshing take on the generally toxic dynamics of a stepmother and daughter. It is interesting to watch how Rani is comfortable looking the other way when Ayesha, at her workplace, comes with a sexual abuse allegation but when she senses Shai, her daughter, might have been abused, she opens up about her own ordeal and reaches out to her daughter. This relationship between the menopausal mother and a daughter who is eagerly waiting to hit her puberty is heart-warming. Read more on Bombay Begums here:
Vidya Vincent in Sherni
The film traces the journey of an alleged man-eating tigress and the forest officer Vidya Vincent, played by Vidya Balan. What connects the two is that both of them are navigating unfamiliar territories to find a space to call their own. In the film, Vidya Vincent is trying to make a place for herself in a world that is largely male-dominated, and she is often told that there is no place for her in it. Vidya, in her own way, makes it clear that she is here to stay.
Watch our Interview With Vidya Balan Here:
Ratna in SIR: Is Love Enough?
Tillotama Shome as the widowed maid in the film is a breath of fresh air. The awkward but emotional relationship between the US returned ‘Sir’ and his young ‘maid’ speaks about the class divide that separates our society like never before. Ratna was married off as a teenager and was widowed at 19. However, she takes pride in the work she does and is funding her younger sister’s education. She stands for and aspires to be a fashion designer someday. Her pride in her economic independence and being self-made makes you instantly respect her.
Watch our Conversation with director of the film Rohena Gera Here:
Sucheta Dalal In Scam 1992
Shreya Dhanwanthary played journalist Sucheta Dalal in Scam 1992 the story of Harshad Mehta and the financial frauds he committed which shook the markets. The show is based on the book The Scam: Who Won, Who Lost, Who Got Away by Sucheta Dalal and her husband Debashish Basu. Dalal was reporting on the Bombay Stock Exchange at a time when few women did it. Dhanwanthary had the tough challenge of portraying a real person on the screen her frustration with the pace of the system and maintaining journalistic ethics and staying in the news cycle and meeting deadlines.
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