Economic and social empowerment of women is one of the most talked about issues in India and filmmakers have not lagged behind - they are reinforcing the concepts with their stories on celluloid, with the movies being a mirror of society.
Remember Nargis Dutt playing a strong female role model who had the courage to kill her son in the 1957 film "Mother India"? Cut to the present - Madhuri Dixit will be seen as a leader of a female vigilante group in her forthcoming film "Gulaab Gang", based on a real life story.
The last few years saw quite a few narratives with strong female characters. On the occasion of Women's Day March 8, IANS lists women-centric Hindi films that were commercially viable and critically acclaimed:
"Kahaani" (2012): In Sujoy Ghosh's directorial venture, actress Vidya Balan pretended to be pregnant and tricked the police department to avenge her husband's death. Her performance was lauded by moviegoers across the country. Even actress-social activist Shabana Azmi, who has been a part of women-centric movies like "Godmother" and "Fire", was bowled over by her performance in the thriller.
"English Vinglish" (2012): The movie, directed by Gauri Shinde, was "Chandni" star Sridevi's comeback film, focussing on a housewife and her struggle with the English language in the US. The actress, known for delivering livewire performances in movies like "Mr. India" and "Chandramukhi", got under the skin of a housewife who masters the English language after being mocked at by her husband and daughter. If her character mirrored the woes of women who are not fluent in English, it also showed their determination to succeed.
"No One Killed Jessica" (2011): Based on model Jessica Lall's murder, the film initially saw Vidya Balan as coy and introvert who later musters the courage to fight to get justice for her dead sister. Her performance was complemented by Rani Mukerji's as a journalist. The Rajkumar Gupta directorial showed that if they want, women can take on anyone.
"Lajja" (2001): Although Rajkumar Santoshi's "Lajja" was not commercially viable, the critically acclaimed film was about women's empowerment. The male-bashing movie artistically highlighted various crimes against women. Starring Manisha Koirala, Madhuri Dixit, Rekha and Mahima Chaudhary in strong roles, their characters were seen fighting abusive husbands, dowry and the like.
"Chandni Bar (2001): Madhur Bhandarkar's "Chandni Bar" was about a bar dancer played by Tabu. The hard-hitting film showed how she breaks free to give her children a better life.
This is not it...In the coming months, filmmaker Subhash Ghai will treat his fans to a film titled "Kaanchi" based on a girl who dares to fight against corruption.
Indo-Canadian director Keshav Panneiry, who recently made headlines for showing actress Mallika Sherawat the door, is also working on a film titled "A Little Heaven In Me". It focusses on the fighting spirit of Indian women.