Media has played a strong role in the portrayal of women along with the culture. Media has always portrayed a dynamic image of women. She is Damini, Shashi of English Vinglish, or even Rosie of Talaash. Gone are the days when people appreciated the damsel in distress today, fierce and independent women of the silver screen, seem to surprise and inspire people. Here’s a list of Indian women characters from different movies who break the conventional definition of meek and vulnerable Indian woman.
#1. Vidya Bagchi of Kahaani.
It is not every day that you meet a faux pregnant woman who uncovers the source of a mass tragedy. Vidya Bagchi does not even restore justice to the family of victims who died in the metro blast, but also uncovers the government’s hand in it, almost all by herself. She has a tragedy of her own, yet she is strong enough to not let that shift her focus or affect her in any way.
#2. Meera Gaity and Sabrina Lall of No one killed Jessica.
We have all come across headstrong news reporters who don’t flinch even for a second to deliver any news to the public. Meera Gaiety is one of them, just a notch higher. She is angry at herself when she takes the Jessica Lall murder case for granted and not only owns up to it but also investigates the entire thing all over again catching a number of glitch in the statements of the witnesses. She has a major hand in restoring justice to Jessica and her family.
#3. Shivani Shivaji Roy of Mardaani.
There are many ‘Singham’ out there in the country, but rarely we come across a Mardaani who uncovers a human trafficking racket and rescues all the people trapped in its web and exposes the people involved in it. She doesn’t get afraid when she personally gets involved in the case.
#4. Silk of The Dirty Picture.
Silk’s character certainly can make people squirm in their seats. She is bold, smart and is unafraid to speak her mind. Her boldness is one of the reasons why she becomes the desire as well as the intimidator. Unfortunately, she meets a sad end, but she is still remembered for her devil may care attitude.
#5.Rani Mehra of Queen.
A simple, shy girl from Delhi does not grab a lot of attention, but her decision and most importantly her self-discovery and the transformation certainly makes her way into this list. She fights alone with a thug in a foreign country, goes to the infamous red light area of Germany etc. She literally grows up as a person on screen. The viewers can actually Rani as a new person when she returns to Delhi as an independent woman.
#6. Radha of Mother India.
The epitome of the strong Indian woman. A mother would do anything to protect her children and her family. But it takes once in a lifetime woman to kill her own child for the betterment of the society. Radha is a simple village belle who works hard in the fields and is the sole breadwinner of the family. When she comes to know that one of her sons has become a dacoit, and has kidnapped the daughter of the man who made indecent proposals to her, she does not turn back on her word or flinch a second before killing him.
#7. Mary Kom of Mary Kom.
A passionate woman is a rare one. Mary Kom discovers her passion and follows it in spite of facing multiple hurdles. Even when her family is going through a tough time, she goes on to make that her greatest strength, and not only to follow her passion but also to become one of the most celebrated women who represents the country at an International level!
#8. Vijaylaxmi of Queen.
“Vijay nahi toh kya, Vijaylakshmi toh hain!” The high-spirited woman who is one of the major source of inspiration behind Rani to not judge people but really look at them. She also gives confidence to Rani to be an independent person.
#9. Aditi Pandit of Astitva.
Aditi Pandit, a woman who actually questions the patriarchal society and the presence of extreme sexism in it. Aditi a young woman whose husband Shreekant, is busy travelling the world as a part of his job and has multiple affairs leaves her craving for some company. Upon the suggestion of Shrikant, she decides to pursue her passion for singing and takes the training with a young musician Malhar Kamat. In the heat of passion, Aditi and Malhar become physical and she becomes pregnant. All along the movie, we see that Aditi is struggling to build her own identity and find the meaning of her existence. When it is discovered that her son is actually Malhar’s son she owns up to her mistake and questions her husband’s way of treating her the entire life. Ultimately, she walks out of the house breaking Shreekant’s ‘holier than thou’, and chauvinistic attitude and resolved to create her own identity.
#10. Meera of Dor.
It is very difficult for a young bride to lose her husband who is away in a different country. Meera is a young vivacious bride who is married to Shankar. Shankar works in Saudi Arabia and is accidentally killed by his roommate. Her life literally lose colour when she becomes a widow and is a constant recipient of the taunts, curses of her in-laws. When she meets Zeenat, the wife of the roommate who kills Shankar, she has a beacon of hope for life and living it. She signs the ‘maafinama’ and flees from her home to begin a new life.
#11. Pooja Malhotra of Arth.
It is difficult for a wife to find out that her husband is having an extra-marital affair. Pooja is an orphaned woman whose sense of security revolves around owning a home. She is married to Inder, a film director and soon finds out that he is having an extra-marital affair with Kavita an actress who acted in his movie. She is in the exact same situation as her maid was to whom she had advised walking out of her abusive husband. She musters up enough courage and confronts Inder and eventually walks out with some amount of money. Since then she decides to carve out her own life and take things into her own hands. Being a single woman is not an easy identity in the society but she bravely faces the criticism and continues to live.
#12. Nisha of Aakhir Kyon.
Nisha is another woman whose fate is similar to Pooja of Arth. Nisha is brought up by her relatives and is married to Kabir. when Nisha becomes pregnant, she is advised to take complete bed rest. In order to help her for managing her home, she calls he sister, Indu for help. Indu and Kabir are attracted to each other and they have an extra-marital affair. Nisha delivers a baby girl and discovers the affair. When she asks Kabir to end it, he refuses to do so. Nisha walks out of her home leaving her young daughter and her family.She struggles initially but goes on to become a news reader and ultimately becomes a successful author.
#13. Dr. Vidya of Paa.
Life of an unwed single mother is extremely difficult to survive in this society. But Dr. Vidya with the support of her mother gives birth to child suffering from a rare genetic disorder. Dr. Vidya is studying to become a doctor when she meets Amol, a son of an influential politician and both fall in love with each other. Their affair soon results in Vidya getting pregnant. Scared of the repercussions and the uncertainty of their future, Amol tells Vidya to get an abortion. Vidya is horrified at the idea and says that she would not be a hiccup in his life anymore and returns home. She tells her mother about it, and her mother asks only one question – does she want the baby or not? Vidya not only agrees to keep her baby but also goes on to become one of the most successful gynaecologists in the country.
#14. Ayesha Bannerjee of Wake up Sid.
‘The new girl in the city’, is one of the stories written by Ayesha Bannerjee in the movie Wake Up Sid! Ayesha is a young woman who comes from Calcutta to become a writer in a magazine. She leaves her comfort and goes on to live her life from scratch in a new city where she has to do everything from looking for a place to working and cooking her own food. Ayesha’s independence and self – reliant attitude also inspires Sid, a spoilt rich brat.
#15. Laila of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.
Laila the high-spirited woman who believes in living in the moment is one of the most independent women who does follows her heart. She is a deep sea diver coach who eventually falls in live with Arjun. When she realizes that she has fallen for Arjun, she goes to him and confesses her love to him.
#16. Gita of Swades: We the people.
Gita is a no – nonsense woman who is extremely passionate about her work and her country. She doesn’t flinch once when she says that she will work even after she gets married and voices her opinions on gender equality. She chooses to be in the village and work there are do her part of the development for the country. She even lets go of her love for the sake of her country when she realizes that he cannot stay in the country.
#17. Meghana Mathur of Fashion.
Meghna Mathur is like the legend of the Phoenix who comes from an unsupportive background, carves her way up to become one of the top models in the fashion industry and then falls down into the level of extreme depression and then resolves to come back as a successful model. Meghna’s life is a roller coaster one, but in the experience of her life she identifies people who are her true friends and who are simply associating with her for some or the other benefit. Facing the extremities of life, she finally gains balance and eventually goes on to become an international model.
#18. Michelle McNally of Black.
Michelle McNally is an extraordinary woman who is blind, deaf and mute and yet goes on to bag a degree in Arts. Michelle resolves to be an independent woman who is strongly supported by her teacher Debraj. In spite of facing multiple failures, she does not lose her heart to achieve her dream and after failing multiple times she finally bags the degree of Arts.
#19. Priya Bakshi of Kya Kehna.
‘Everything is fair in love’, is what a young college student Priya Bakshi argues when she ends up being pregnant with her commitment-phobic boyfriend. Her spirits are not deterred when she is ostracized by the society including her family for being an unwed mother. In the beginning too, she is not scared to teach her principal a lesson when she discovers that he molested one of her friends.
#20. Priya Saxena of Aitraaz.
Priya Saxena questions the lopsided judicial system of our country when it comes to sexual harassment cases. When she comes to know that her husband is falsely accused of rape by his boss’ wife, she takes the matter into her own hands and resolves to prove her husband’s innocence in the court. Priya is not only strong but, also a determined woman to have her way and succeeds at proving her husband’s innocence.
#21. Sabrina Lall of No one Killed Jessica.
Sisterhood is a different bond altogether, but what happens when a young woman is killed at the hands of an influential person because she refuses to comply his demands of getting a bottle of alcohol? Sabrina tries her best to convince the witness to tell the truth about the incident in the court. She dedicates almost her entire life trying to get justice for her and ultimately gets it.
#22. Fiza of Fiza.
Losing family members during riots are traumatic, but what is more frustrating is getting lost in the upheavel and the uncertainty of the existence of our loved ones. Fiza is o e brave woman whose younger brother disappears during the riots. Resolved to find him and his whereabouts, she visits and talks to every single person whom she thinks will be able to help her to find her lost brother. When she sees his transformation into a terrorist, she is shocked to the core and ultimately on his request kills him.
#23. Madhavi Sharma of Page 3.
An ideal journalist has to be unbiased and should have the courage and passion to report the realities. What Madhavi does is the exact same thing, she faces the ugly truth of politics, scandals, scams etc. And reports them as it is without any inhibitions or fear. What frustrate her is the system in which she is working. She is a genuine reporter but unfortunately, her colleagues and her superiors are caught up in the politics and tangled in the power play.
#24. Ayesha Mehra of Dil Dhadakne Do.
Ayesha Mehra is a self-made woman who has the business acumen just like her father. Ayesha is married to a narcisstic, and controlling husband who takes pride in ‘allowing’ his wife to work. She starts her own travel portal and which goes on to become one of the top travel portals. However, she starts her business by selling her jewellery and struggles a lot. She is extremely unhappy with her marriage, but her family does not allow her to divorce him. She is also unhappy that most of the people want her to become a mother and think that ‘motherhood’ will make her unhappy. Eventually, her parents understand her plight and notice that she too is an individual person of her own who possess her own set of qualities which could be beneficial to their nose-diving enterprise.
#25. Zeenat of Dor.
Zeenat’s husband, Amir works in Saudi Arabia when he accidentally kills Shankar his roommate. In order to save her husband from the death penalty, she has to take Shankar’s wife, Meera’s consent on the form of maafinama. She is a determined yet sensitive woman who wants to save her husband but understands Meera’s plight. She gets the maafinama, but she also takes Meera along with her tonstart a new life altogether.
#26. Farah Ali of Dil Dhadakne Do.
Farah Ali the free spirited dancer who literally ran away from her home in London to follow her passion for dancing. She struggles a lot and at one point of time is fighting for her survival. She does various jobs, earns enough money and finally gets herself enrolled into a dancing school. She finally boards a cruise working as a dancer there. Farah is bold, brave and is certainly has seen enough for her age. She is also practical and is focused on her aim.
#27. Shonali Mukherjee of Karthik Calling Karthik.
Shonali Mukherjee is one badass lady who works in a corporate and smokes in her cabin keeping her hand on the ‘no-smoking’ sign. She is strong, smart, bold and has a ‘devil may care attitude’. But she also has self respect and although she might be dating, she doesn’t flinch having pre-marital sex as an expression of love in a relationship. She takes things in her own hands when she discovers that her boyfriends, Karthik is suffering from Schizophrenia and stays by his side giving him immense support.
#28. Nandini of Shakti : The Power.
Nandini is a mother who is trying to escape from hostile and extremely violent environment of her husband’s ancestral village in India. The village is extremely patriarchal and unfortunately, she is caught up in between the two rival gangs of the village, one of which is headed by her father – in – law, Narsimha. She eventually escapes from the village in the nick of time and safely reaches her destination after her father in law peacefully reconciles with her.
#29. Piku of Piku
Piku is a modern day woman with independent thinking who owns her own architectural firm in Delhi. She is eccentric, short-tempered, creative and takes good care of her father, Bashkor Bannerjee. She does not marry because she knows that she won’t be able to take good care of her father who has chronic constipation if she gets tangled in her own family life. She is outspoken, sacrificial, loving yet eccentric and short – tempered most of the time. She is unapologetic of her sexuality and and is frank about it to her family.
The featured image is sourced from here.