Not all Bollywood movies are about song-dance sequences or consider female lead as mannequins or have item numbers to increase the box office collection. There are certain Bollywood movies that have women in powerful roles with an amazing storyline. These films have the power to influence and leave a mark on our psyche. Today we have movies that portray every shade of women –ambitious, adventurous, fashionista, strong, fearless, funny, serious, sassy, emotional and much more. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, here are 15 Bollywood movies with strong female characters that are a must watch.
Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga (2019)
Directed by Shelly Chopra Dhar, ‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga’ stars Anil Kapoor, Juhi Chawla, Sonam Kapoor, Rajkummar Rao, Akshay Oberoi, Regina Cassandra, Brijendra Kala and Madhumalti Kapoor. The film is about a young Punjabi girl (essayed by Sonam Kapoor) named ‘Sweety’ who is a lesbian and is in love with another woman. She fears that the truth might not go well with her family and society. Unaware of the truth, her family wants her to get married to a young writer who is in love with her.
Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi (2019)
The epic biographical period drama shows how Rani Laxmibai was the first woman in history to wage a war against the British and begin the first war of Independence. It chronicles her journey from growing up in Bithoor to becoming the Queen of Jhansi and later turning into a warrior queen.
Directed by Meghna Gulzar, ‘Raazi’ is based on a true story of a girl who is sent to Pakistan to source information, amidst the rising tension between India and Pakistan. The Kashmiri girl marries a Pakistani army officer to spy on Pakistan during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971.
Lipstick Under My Burkha (2016)
Set in a small town in India, ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’, features the story of four women who are in search of a little freedom. The four women are – a burkha-clad college girl who aspires to be a pop singer, a young beautician, a housewife and a 55-year-old widow. These four women on a journey to rediscover freedom and happiness.
Based on a true story the biographical thriller features Sonam Kapoor in the title character, who is a flight attendant. On a regular day to work, when she boards Pan Am 73, a Libya sponsored terrorist group hijacks the plane in Karachi. Neerja ruins the hijackers plan and manages to save 359 of the 379 passengers and crew on board. Neerja Bhanot has been posthumously awarded the Ashoka Chakra and she is the youngest person to be felicitated with it.
The film portrays the life of four ordinary women with a thirst for ‘something’ more than they have. Their village is possessed with child marriage, dowry, rape, physical and mental abuse. These four women have a common meeting point, a local fort, where they discuss their lives and secrets. They later plan to leave the village in search of a better life away from the traditions and customs.
Nil Battey Sannata (2016)
Directed by Ashwini Iyer, Nil Battey Sannata portrays the life of a single mother who is taking her efforts to get her daughter to concentrate on education. While her daughter feels her education will not assist her to land up a job. Hence, her mother makes a decision to educate herself and showcases the power of education.
Indian comedy-drama features Kangana Ranaut (Rani) in lead role. Rani is a shy Punjabi girl from New Delhi. A day prior to the wedding her fiancé calls off their wedding citing lifestyle issue and explains how she is a wrong match for him. Wanting to take control of the situation she embarks on her pre-booked honeymoon to Paris and Amsterdam. Over the tour, Rani gains confidence and gets a complete makeover.
Margarita with a Straw (2014)
The film illustrates the life of Laila (Kalki Koechlin), a teenager with cerebral palsy who is a student and an aspiring writer. She falls for her college mate but gets rejected and moves to New York with her mother for her further studies. Later she discovers that she is bisexual. The story revolves around the subtle aspects of modern life and the need to accept the changing rituals of society.
English Vinglish (2012)
The comedy-drama portrays the life of Shashi Godbole essayed by Sridevi, who is a housewife and runs a household ‘laddoo’ business. Her husband and daughter take her for granted and makes fun of her lack of English skills. Her niece helps her to learn English by enrolling her in a secret English class. She passes the course with distinction and with the same the perception of her husband and daughter changes.
No One Killed Jessica (2011)
The biographical thriller film based on the Jessica Lal murder case features Rani Mukerji and Vidya Balan in lead roles. The movie boasts powerful performances from the leading ladies. The film shows how a journalist (essayed by Rani) teams up with the sister (essayed by Vidya) of a murdered model and how the two live with the common aim that is to bring justice in the case.
Set in 1938, the film explores the lives of widows at an ashram in Varanasi. The film also highlights how child marriage was a common practice in India. The film features the story of an eight-year-old girl whose husband suddenly dies. In keeping with traditions, the little girl is dressed in a white sari, her head is shaven and she is left in an ashram, to spend the rest of her life.
Chandni Bar (2001)
Directed by Madhur Bhandarkar, the film features Tabu (Mumtaz) and Atul Kulkarni (Pottya Sawant) in lead roles and illustrates the realistic life of Mumbai underworld including dance bars and prostitution. Mumtaz is into prostitution and gets married to Pottya, she works hard to provide a better lifestyle for her kids and also sees to it that her kids are away from the world of prostitution and gangsters.
The crime thriller directed by Rajkumar Santoshi showcases the story of a woman, essayed by Meenakshi Sheshadri (Damini), who fights against her own family to give justice to her maid. The maid is gang-raped by her brother-in-law and his friends. The family tries to prove that Damini is mentally unstable and confines her into a mental asylum. The film also stars Sunny Deol and Amrish Puri. The iconic dialogue ‘Tarikh pe Tarikh’ is remembered even today. Sunny Deol who plays the role of an alcoholic lawyer helps Damini to get justice to the victimised girl.
Mother India (1957)
Directed by Mehboob Khan, the epic melodrama is one of the top women-oriented movies till date. The film stars Nargis, Sunil Dutt, Rajendra Kumar and Raaj Kumar. Mother India represents India after independence and portrays the story of a poverty-stricken woman who in the absence of her husband survives against cunning money-lender and her efforts to raise her sons. Fighting all the efforts she sets an example for the ‘ideal Indian woman’.
Some of the other must watch movies are Pink, Dear Zindagi, Sarbjit, Akira, Naam Shabana, Noor, Secret Superstar, Tumhari Sulu, and Dangal.