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V for Vidya, V for Versatile: Is She The Hero Films Can Depend on?

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Vidya Balan’s Versatility: The Sherni Actor has time and again proved her prowess with phenomenal stints in Paa, Bhool Bhulaiya, The dirty picture, Shakuntala Devi among many others. A recipient of the national award, the south Indian actress is known for her guts and gumption.

Vidya Balan’s characters and roles traverse a path that is beyond the glory of box office numbers, they pave the way for better representation of women in an industry that is largely male-dominated. Here are four ways Vidya Balan battled the deep-seated patriarchy one good film at a time.

As The Unafraid Woman

Kahaani chronicles a pregnant woman who sets forward to avenge the death of her husband. The synopsis of the movie is empowering in and of itself. Balan’s Kahaani is a women-centred action film the country desperately needed. The actor breaks the age-old typecast where a hypermasculine hero with big biceps and a beard performs larger than life stunts and saves the damsel in distress. In Kahaani, Balan in the role of Vidya Bagchi blazes forward unafraid of the men in her way that try to overpower her.

As The Unabashed Woman

Balan has subverted the predominantly patriarchal notions of what a female body should like time and again. In the dirty picture, and in her real life as well, Vidya has strongly opposed the Fat is not fit notion, advocating that health can exist at every size. Vidya Balan through her role as Silk Smitha in The Dirty Picture has taught little girls around the country to be in command of their life and sexuality. The actress has touched upon an array of topics such as beauty standards for women, body positivity and many more. Talking about how she grew to be proud of her body, Vidya told the Times Of India, “I said to myself that this is my body and I love it.”

As The Uncompromising Woman

Through her roles in Shakuntala Devi as a female mathematician, or in Mission Mangal as a scientist, Vidya has portrayed that women in STEM are here to stay. In both the films, Vidya’s character was also a wife and a mother, indicating that women do not need to compromise or limit their goals because of familial and societal pressures. Vidya Balan is proof that a woman can lead the film, win critical appreciation, and earn box office success.

As The Unapologetic Woman

In Balan’s recent release Sherni, the actor has dwelled into ecofeminism – a term that regards patriarchal societal structure as the root of the exploitation of both women and nature. The movie is truly and unapologetically a tale of triumph.  Balan’s characters in these films are all extremely talented at one common thing – from spy to private investigator to radio jockey to the proverbial rocket scientist, these individuals are constantly negotiating and challenging, the terms and conditions of womanhood with society.