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Friday, June 2, 2023

Bollywood 2018: The Year of Woman Power

Bollywood is slowly changing. Unlike before, we are getting to see some brilliant films that are made to an international level.

In the recent past, we have seen a rise in ‘female-centric’ films… Namely Kahaani, Tumhari Sulu, Queen and English Vinglish, amongst many more.

Specifically, the year 2018 has been all about woman power and definitely a breath of fresh air for many reasons.

One of the pivotal reasons is that several individuals who suffered sexual harassment have spoken out against their perpetrators, giving strength to the #MeToo movement in India.

With regards to Hindi cinema, there have been some strongly conceptualised films with female characters taking centre stage. 

Reflecting over the year, Filme Shilmy presents a list of a few Bollywood films which encompass female empowerment. 


“Rajputi Kangana Main Utni Hi Taaqat Jitni Rajputi Talvaar Main Hai.” This dialogue itself demonstrates female empowerment.

Padmaavat is a hauntingly beautiful tale of valour, honour and sacrifice.

One feels a sense of helplessness whilst watching the group of Maharani Padmavati (Deepika Padukone) Rajputi women jumping into the pit of fire to perform ‘Jauhar’.

It leaves us speechless and in horror. We subsequently think, ‘did this really happen?’

Whilst many objected to the ending, but it has been documented in history that the women gave up their lives to avoid capture by the Delhi Sultan Alauddin Khilji (Ranveer Singh).

Hence, women preserve their honour and culture.

Bhansali’s masterpiece is a harsh reminder of the pain and suffering suffered by Indian women at the hands of foreigners.


Hichki is one of the first Bollywood films to exhibit Tourette’s Syndrome and the consequence that speech defect can have on a person.

Rani Mukerji plays Naina Mathur, a school-teacher who has always been picked on due to her Syndrome.

The film proceeds to exhibit how Naina overcomes all rejections and single-handedly improves the conditions of a class consisting of rebellious and troubled kids.

Naina faces challenges mainly from the principal and co-teacher of the school… Interestingly, both are male.

Being the sole superstar of the movie, Rani completely carries the film on her shoulders.

This Yash Raj Films production is an uplifting film which very subtly and effectively exudes woman power.


Alia Bhatt’s character Sehmat is a timid young girl.

Despite not being a professional espionage, bravely trains herself to become one and fulfil her duties for her country.

If we ever saw Sehmat in real-life, no one would ever imagine to view her as a spy.

But even though Sehmat becomes an espionage, that timidity within her remains consistent throughout the film.

Besides the whole ‘spy’ aspect, we also see Sehmat essaying the role of a daughter-in-law, wife and a daughter, which exhibits how a woman can juggle so many tasks with ease.

Since the movie is based on a true story, it begs the audience to ponder upon how many anonymous women there are within society who are dedicating their lives for their country.

Plus, this woman-empowerment sentiment is enhanced further due to Raazi being directed by one of the finest female filmmakers in India, Meghna Gulzar.

Veere Di Wedding (VDW)

Veere Di Wedding (VDW) is one of 2018’s highest-grossing Bollywood movies.

Whilst many dubbed the movie to be inspired by Sex and the City, VDW has been appreciated for breaking the glass ceiling of so-called ‘female-centric’ films.

Seeing a group of women talking about sex openly, using profanity, smoking and drinking is something which we are not accustomed to seeing in Bollywood.

We have seen such representations in male buddy films like Pyaar Ka Punchnama, but this Shashanka Ghosh film gives a fresh angle.

For instance, there is a self-pleasuring scene with sex toy – which raised several eyebrows.

This scene embraces female sexuality, rather than just addressing a natural practice like self-pleasuring.

VDW does not only ruffle the feathers, but it also breaks the boundaries by exhibiting explicit scenes and language.

Love Sonia

Tabrez Noorani’s Love Sonia is a harrowing account of how an innocent village girl Sonia (Mrunal Thakur) unwantedly gets embroiled in the horrific human flesh trade.

The movie showcases the harsh reality of human trafficking, but it also seamlessly depicts the journey of Sonia, as she searches for her sister who is also stuck in this fierce trade.

Despite the atrocities that Sonia goes through, her spirit and objective of finding her sister are unmoved. 

Plus, the good point about this film is that it isn’t gung-ho about women empowerment. It is shown in a very subtle way.

As such, the fact that Sonia is supported by strong characters like Rashmi (Freida Pinto) and Madhuri (Richa Chadda) enhances the woman power aspect.


One cannot help but admire the creations of Champa (Sanya Malhotra) and Genda Kumari (Radhika Madan).

If we think about it, the two characters are quite unconventional.

There used to be a notion that the typical Indian village belles would often cover themselves in a coy manner.

Vishal Bhardwaj, however, shatters the stereotypical image of female Indian village characters and it works very well.

How often do we get to see two village girls brawling, screaming profanities and smoking?

In addition to those tropes, we also get to witness their emotions, dreams and ambitions.

Moreover, there is a natural character craft for both the protagonists.

Even though they fight throughout, we see maturity develop through the two sibling characters.

Helicopter Eela

The movie’s storyline endeavours to show Eela (Kajol) as the singer, as well as a single mother.

Being a single parent, we see Eela dedicate the entire life to her son – Vivaan (Ridhi Sen).

But her return to college to complete studies exhibits her inner inhibition to becoming an independent woman – rather than just being Vivaan’s mother.

Kajol uplifts the film’s tepid atmosphere with her effervescent performance.

Since she is the superstar of the film, Kajol carries Helicopter Eela entirely on her shoulders and she is truly incredible in doing so!

Final Word

Overall, these are our selected few Bollywood female empowerment films of 2018.

Notable mentions include Badhaai Ho and Stree showcase the changing views of women in society.

For instance, Badhaai Ho exhibits how society accepts a middle-aged woman who gets pregnant.

As for Stree, a mysterious woman is projected as an evil phantom, but then eventually is accepted and almost revered to by people.

It is interesting how ‘acceptance’ is the common factor in both films. Thus, breaking all taboos.

Perhaps, this is a message signifying that the Hindi film industry has finally accepted women in centre-stage roles.

Bollywood is changing and now it is time that we too live as a society that is not gender-bound.

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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