Indian film Industry, especially Bollywood, used to be considered as male dominated industry where men call the shots. Even though the world's perception about Bollywood is not improved by time, the fact is that the same industry that has been called as 'sexist' has created many aesthetically superior films that have strong women characters. Independence cinema of India has always given women a fair share of author backed strong roles. Let's pay a tribute to some of them...
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Nargis in Mother India (1957)
Nargis made Radha of Mother India, the character of deserted wife, who brings up her two sons on her own, unforgettable in the history of Indian Cinema. When one of her sons become an outlaw, she herself kills him. It would be the first time a Hindi film portrays a strong minded woman character. Nargis won both National and International awards for this highly acclaimed performance.
Shabana Azmi In Arth (1982)
Pooja, the strong character played by Shabana Azmi in Arth, was revolutionary in any given meaning of the word. She plays a deserted wife who builds her life slowly. Even at the end of the film, she even denies the love from a man who wants to support her.
Smita Patil In Mirch Masala (1987)
Mirch Masala might have inspired the new film Gulaab Gang. But Mirch Masala is an intelligent film that is filmed very realistically. Smita Patil delivered one of her caree's best performance in this film as a woman who refuses to give in to the local subedar's sexual advances.
Meenakshi Sheshadri In Damini (1993)
Meenakshi Sheshadri delivered a powerful performance in Damini as a strong woman who is trapped in the dilemma of whether to save her brother-in-law and his friends or a maid who was raped by them. She stands for justice and chooses the latter and faces the dire consequences as her marriage falls apart and loses her sanity. This is one of the all time best performance by a female actor in Bollywood cinema.
Madhuri Dixit In Mrityudand (1997)
A film that was feminist in its tone, Mrityudand showed a woman who got trapped into the patriarchal tyranny of her newly married husband's village. When she finds that her husband is killed, she takes the justice in her own hands.
Reema Lagoo In Vaastav (1999)
Shanta, played by Reema Lagoo, is a very complex character as a mother of an underworld don. The film depicts the sinful nexus of underworld and politics and how one man's life is pushed to the crime world. Reema was a winner in displaying that complicated emotional conflicts the character goes through.
Tabu In Astitva (2000)
Tabu played a character who is courageous enough to say she had been in an affair in his absence and was willing to suffer its consequences. Tabu sizzled in the role of a repressed Mahrashtrian housewife.
Rani Mukherjee In No One Killed Jessica (2011)
Meera Gaity, a fearless crime reporter was a new revelation for Rani Mukherjee, the actor who portrayed her on screen. It was a new Rani, who is seen waging war against the evil forces of society. Critics were alike in saying that she did maximum justice to her role.
Vidya Balan In Kahaani (2012)
Vidya Bagchi is a role that is getting remade in various Indian languages right now. It was first played by Vidya Balan in the landmark film, Kahaani. Vidya plays a very strong woman who has survived a miscarriage and her partner's death. Vidya displayed the power of a woman by performing the role in a very feminine way without shouting or acting like a man.
Sridevi In English Vinglish (2012)
This film brought back Sridevi to silver screen after a 15 year break. She donned the role of Shashi, a housewife who is always mocked by her daughter and hubby just because she doesn't know how to speak English. The movie was about how she comes out of that problem and grows herself as an individual.