They fight and they guard. They are strong and fierce, and they have their eyes firmly set on their goals. Bollywood has coming up with a slew of movies that showcase strong, gritty women who are ready to take on the world. Janhvi Kapoor will be seem in the biopic on Gunjan Saxena, the first woman IAF pilot; Deepika Padukone plays acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal in Chhapaak, Alia Bhatt has been reportedly signed for a biopic based on Arunima Sinha, world’s first female amputee to climb the Mount Everest; Parineeti Chopra will be seen in badminton player Saina Nehwal’s biopic; while Kangana Ranaut will essay the role of late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in an upcoming biopic on the politician. A biopic on tennis star Sania Mirza is also under way.
These films celebrate women power and their leading ladies are set to impress their fans with their power-packed performances which could turn out to be their career defining roles.
While woman characters have played a fundamental role in story-lines, only a few years ago female-led biopic or films on women such like Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi (2019), Raazi (2018), Neerja (2016), Dangal (2016), Mary Kom (2014), received applause.
Actor Richa Chadha who is starring in Shakeela, a biopic on an adult star from South India, hopes that women-centric films are not just a trend but a genre to stay. “We have had great films with female protagonists such as Mother India (1957) and Bandini (1963), or movies by actors Smita Patil and Shabana Amzi. It’s heartening to see that today many mainstream heroines have done films like Raazi and Neerja. It’s encouraging and we hope that many more such movies are made,” she says .
Actor Bhumi Pednekar is currently shooting for Saand Ki Aankh, a biopic on old sharpshooters Chandro Tomar and her sister-in-law Prakashi Tomar. “I feel extremely fortunate to have been a part of strong narratives where female characters aren’t just objects of glamour and vanity in films. We have amazing stories of courage. These need to reach out to people, so that they too can be encouraged by these women. We live a patriarchal society and these amazing women that are trying to break the same.”
According to film trade analyst Joginder Tuteja, Neerja and Mary Kom pretty much established women-centric films .Earlier, female centric films had an average success rate—some were hit, some were flop. “The trend has grown at least fivefold. Fortunately, filmmakers have understood the pitch, and the fact that audience like such stories ,” he says.
Do filmmakers agree? Chhapaak’s director Meghna Gulzar says that here have been biopics earlier too but now filmmakers are looking at real life content, inspiring stories of archivers. “It’s the diverse content that the audience accepts and appreciates,” she says.
It’s not only the big screen focusing on producing women-achiever based content, OTT platforms, too, are coming up with similar content. Recently, ZEE5 came out with Sholay Girl based on Hema Malini’s stunt woman Resham Pathan. The director of the film, Aditya Sarpotdar, says, “High time it happened. It tells us how the audiences have changed, and are open and happy to accept inspirational content. There’s a rise in untold and unspoken stories of women.”