Women-Centric Bollywood Movies In 2017

Ria Das
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Bollywood’s content has become more varied and interesting with every year. Gone are the days when actresses were purely relegated to ornamental roles in movies, and where they had to adhere by an expiry date. This year, the variety of films addressed the issues of female sexuality, open defecation, testosterone and patriarchy, and domestic violence.


Here are the movies which showed women in varied and nuanced roles in 2017:

Secret Superstar

This one’s special. In simple words, it is a passionate portrayal of a girl -- an aspirant singer -- played by Dangal-famed Zaira Wasim as the protagonist. The girl fights her orthodox father in order to fulfill her dreams. It’s an inspiring story of a girl’s victory over society. If you have ever struggled with the “don’t do this” brigade, don’t miss this one.

Read other Stories in 2017 Roundup Series here

Tumhari Sulu

Yet again Vidya Balan made spunk look smouldering. A simple housewife in a relatively light-hearted avatar will make you realise that Sulu is us. Vidya plays Sulochana, who is fondly known as Sulu. The story revolves around Sulu, who finds herself in an unexpected job of an RJ, anchoring a late-night show known for its semi-adultery content.



In this comedy drama film, Kangana Ranaut played the part of Simran, who gets involved in crime while working in the United States. Though the film didn’t perform well at the box office, we still loved the fresh way in which Ranaut portrayed her character.

Lipstick Under My Burkha

Directed by Alankrita Srivastava, the film explores the lives of four ordinary women and how they explore their sexuality. The movie follows the story of four women, who live in small town Bhopal and stars Konkona Sen Sharma, Ratna Pathak, Aahana Kumra and Plabitha Borthakur.

It finally released after battling the Censor board which had banned it.



This Sridevi-starrer was a huge hit. In the movie, Devki, a biology teacher, seeks help from a private detective after her stepdaughter’s rapists are acquitted. She vows to take revenge. The movie was a massive hit and touched upon important questions related to the law and feminism.

Anaarkali of Aarah

Swara Bhasker plays the role of an erotic folk dancer. After she gets molested, she finds that the law doesn’t help her. She takes matters of revenge into her own hands.

Naam Shabana

With this movie, Taapsee Pannu returned to a women-centric film after Pink. She plays Shabana who joins a secret intelligence agency after her friend is killed while trying to defend her from goons who had been harassing her.



Anushka Sharma plays the part of a spirit who follows a young man around after he marries a tree to ward off bad luck before marrying his fiancee. It turns out that she had been abandoned by her lover during the Indian independence movement.


Sonakshi Sinha plays Noor, a journalist who wishes to do serious reporting. While struggling with her career, she uncovers an explosive news story. Noor didn’t perform well at the box office, but we still liked how Sinha represented young female reporters and their ambitions.

We hope that female led movies continue to be made and that they do well at the box office. For next year, we are already looking forward to Rani Mukherjee-starrer, Hitchki, which follows the story of a teacher with Tourette’s syndrome.

Begum Jaan

While we saw a power-packed performance by Vidya Balan and her co-stars, the film itself stands alone in the crowd. She plays the role of a brothel owner. The film is set in 1947. The official remake of Bengali film. Rajkahini, left the audience spell-bound as the most ignorant (but exploited as needed) group of women in the society fight back when the entire system announces war against them.

Begum Jaan not only shows women power but also talks about the taboo topic too.

Haseena – The Queen of Mumbai

Though the film failed to make an impression on the audience, this was one of the most challenging roles of Shraddha Kapoor. She plays Haseena Parkar, Dawood Ibrahim's sister – and, oh man, she slays. Though, the role was given a dramatic edge, the film is a must watch if one wants to know what happened behind the scenes in the most wanted family. It spans from the 1970s to early 2000 and the audience witnessed a transformation in Shraddha's looks.

The Mother

Raveena Tandon makes a comeback to the silver screen. Raveena essays the title role in the film, which revolves around the fight for justice for women who are victims of violence and rape. It was a script pointing out the very common topic from this year. It shows how one (in this case, a mother) can deal with criminals who indulge in crimes against women. Most of them remain free while laws in India rarely protect women.

Toilet: Ek Prem Katha

Though it is a story about how a husband fights for his wife’s dignity, Bhumi Pednekar made us look at the open defecation issue that rural India faces. The Akshay Kumar-starrer highlights how some men understand women's problems and stand up for them.

Inputs: Tara Khandelwal

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