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5 Feminist Bollywood Movies Everyone Needs To Watch

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Bollywood movies are a reflexive delight and escape for us all. And some of these end in a message that make you think and reflect. Here are our favorite movies that have good feminist messages as well.

These are some essential feminist movies that showcase heroines from various backgrounds, determined to build a life for themselves. Watching them struggle, and overcome their hardships is not only an enjoyable inspiration but an essential sensitization into the lives of women around us.

  1. English Vinglish

Although no longer with us, Sridevi has left us with a heartfelt masterpiece. Detailing the life of a middle-aged home-maker Shashi who is disrespected by her family for not being modern enough and knowing English, she enrolls in an English speaking course on her coincidental, solitary visit to New York.

Dedicated housewives and mothers start getting taken for granted at some point in life. Shashi is one such woman, who is determined to not let that stop her from pursuing her goals. Hesitantly venturing into the foreign culture, Shashi tries to balance her pride in her role as a wife and mother with her desire to be known as more than these roles.

Our favourite moment: When Shashi cooks her favourite desi cuisine for her fellow Chinese, Italian, American, Pakistani and African course-mates as a reflexive gesture of appreciation, and is charmed by their warm reception. She uses the very food which is taken for granted back home to build a meaningful connection amongst daunting foreign cultures.

  1. Highway (2014)- Alia Bhatt

Why would a woman discover freedom when unsuspectingly kidnapped a day before her wedding? The answer doesn’t lie in it being a loveless arranged marriage. The answer lies in the unique traumatic experience of being a victim or survivor of sexual abuse.

Aalia Bhatt plays the character of Veera who discovers more agency and autonomy travelling on random streets with her kidnapper than within the suffocating confines of her home. Sexual abuse is a harsh reality present amongst almost every house, and this movie helps us understand the emotional state of the victims, and the importance of extending understanding to them. This is not a tragic story, but rather a spiritual one.

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Our favourite moment: Since we can’t talk about the superbly acted and directed climax, the song ‘Patakha Guddi’ is definitely a memorable highlight of the movie. Sufi elements energising the lyrics, Veera is shown enjoying the luxury of walking endlessly, physically manifesting the acceptance of her body, gender, and spirit. This healing moment is encapsulated sensitively in the catchy song.

  1. Piku (2015)- Deepika Padukone

This comedy-drama film follows the life of the headstrong, easily irritable architect Piku who has spent her entire life caring for her excessively nitpicky father. They don’t have a doting relationship, but the exclusive love is apparent to the viewers as they see Piku navigating the complex dynamics with a father hilariously obsessed with his constipation.

We cannot control our family members. We aren’t always fond of them, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t a valuable and essential part of our lives. These are a few of the lessons we learn while watching Deepika Padukone’s critically acclaimed performance. Her character Piku is a daring realistic portrayal in a world being consistently burdened by unrealistic depictions of familial responsibility.

Our favourite moment: When Piku is sitting, in the brilliantly minimalistic scene, on a typical Indian roadside looking at the moon, and pouring out her emotional hurdles to the taxi driver, played by Irfan Khan, self-reflecting on her past, sensitively acknowledging that talking about the hardships is an essential part of dealing with them.

  1. Dil Dhadakne Do– Priyanka Chopra

Dil Dhadakne Do is generally a fun-packed blockbuster which features the struggle of exploring diverse ambitions within a dysfunctional elite Punjabi family, who invite their family and friends on a cruise trip to celebrate the parents’ 30th wedding anniversary. However, the women within the ensemble cast are a nuanced reality check of gender stereotypes.

Priyanka Chopra plays the character of Ayesha who wants to seek a divorce from a marriage of a few years for the simple and valid reason that she is unhappy. The family members cannot comprehend this reason, since she isn’t apparently being beaten by her husband, and isn’t infertile. This movie, for the first time, legitimates not loving the husband as a reason for divorce over adopting unrealistic patience and ‘sticking through with it’.

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Our favourite moment: When Ayesha finds an unsuspecting empathic friend in the guise of her cousin, played by Farhan Akhtar. Being understood by a male while being simultaneously alienated because of the patriarchal system designed to benefit men, is an important and sweet reminder of the potential of hope. It is a much-needed roadmap of the possibility of bridging privilege for all male allies of the movement.

  1. Neerja– Sanam Kapoor

Sonam Kapoor plays the head purser of Pan Am Flight 73, Neerja, in this biographical thriller film. It features the extra ordinary courage showed by Neerja during the hijacking of the plane on 5th September 1986 – she not only prevents the hijacking attempt by alerting the pilots but dies saving 359 of the 379 passengers.

It is always important to remember real-life heroes, their stories being just a tiny bit easier to imagine, and thus a lot harder to stay indifferent towards. Neerja’s kind consideration for the fellow air attendants, reflexive risks to save the passengers and subtle reassurances to the unaccompanied child passengers imprint themselves on our memories, pushing us to think beyond ourselves.

Our favourite moment: Neerja, due to her ever-caring vigilance, notices the hungry expressions of some passengers, and intelligently realizing that it’ll contribute towards decreasing their panic, tricks the hijackers into passing food to everyone. While passing the food, she sneaks in reassuring phrases, laced with soft kindness, despite the gun barrel consistently being pointed at the back of her head. These small moments meant the world to the 359 passengers.

 

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