Women’s Day: Alia’s Kaira to Deepika’s Piku, 5 female characters and the valuable life lessons they taught us

On International Women’s Day, a discussion on women in films is obvious, yet never not important. Fortunately, gone are those days when women in films were cast only as an afterthought, whose only role was to increase the stature of the hero. There was the hero’s love interest, a mother, a damsel in distress who needs saving, or the villainous, westernized ‘third woman’ whose only motive in life is to prey on rich husbands with mediocre personalities.

Over the years, there has been a visible shift in Hindi cinema, wherein the audience, filmmakers, and writers have collectively undergone a change in their sensibilities and appetite for cinema. In recent times, we see improved storytelling about complex, flawed, confident, vulnerable, and layered women, with substantial characterisation.https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.503.0_en.html#goog_30797597

Keeping up with this ever-changing shift in the nature of Hindi films and its cine-goers, this Women’s Day, let us have a look at 5 popular female characters on celluloid who have dished out valuable life lessons through their fictional, yet relatable journeys.

1. Taking responsibility of our ageing parents (Piku)

Deepika in Piku

It’s the cycle of life: the ones who give us life, one day, become dependent on us for survival. Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, and Irrfan’s Piku ostensibly revolve around constipation. But it’s so much more than that, including a layered father-daughter relationship, old age, and more. Bhashkor Banerjee is dependent on his daughter Piku, and even though, it might get annoying at times, the latter understands and accepts this all too well. After his passing, Piku tells Rana, that after an age, parents need their children’s support for the mere act of being alive, while it’s the latter’s responsibility to look after ageing guardians.

2. Being your own saviour (Shashi)

Sridevi in English Vinglish

Gauri Shinde’s English Vinglish starring Sridevi must have touched a chord with not just women and homemakers, but every person who has been ridiculed and humiliated for not being fluent in our coloniser’s language. There have been ample moments in the movie when Sridevi’s Shashi casually dishes out heartwarming, and relatable life lessons. However, her speech during her niece’s wedding is one of the highlights of the film. This is when Shashi remarks that unless you help yourself, nobody can help save you. Consider the many moments in the film when this rings true. Be it Shashi finding the courage to take her first flight alone, or getting herself enrolled in an English class in a foreign country. She always took the step forward to become her own saviour.

3. Drawing clear boundaries (Amrita)

Amrita in Thappad

There have been films that enabled the problematic narrative that ‘little’ violence is just an expression of love. Anubhav Sinha’s Thappad challenged this notion and how. When Taapsee Pannu’s Amrita gets slapped by her husband in front of dozens of people at a party, she could not simply let it ‘slide’ by her. Talking to her lawyer, Amrita says rather matter-of-factly, “Just a slap. Par nahi maar sakta”. Simple, crisp, and profound. Later on, she also mentions how the slap just made her see clearly all those red flags that she had been avoiding or sweeping under the carpet for all these years. With Amrita, we learn the importance of drawing boundaries, even with the people we consider closest to us. And no, it does not and should not start with violence.

4. Being vulnerable & seeking help (Kaira)

Alia Bhatt in Dear Zindagi

Well, let’s be honest. It is Shah Rukh Khan’s charming and wise Jehangir Khan who has almost all of life’s hacks up his sleeve in Dear Zindagi. However, what we learn from Alia Bhatt’s Kaira is the importance of being vulnerable, and recognizing the need to seek help. Kaira had numerous conflicts, personal and professional, bottled up inside her. She had her meltdowns and expressed her anger and disappointment with people. She also acknowledged the fact that she needs professional help at that point in her life. Jehangir tells Kaira, “Don’t let your past blackmail your present to ruin your beautiful future.” And if that means seeking help, you do that.

5. Getting out of your comfort zone and looking beyond fear (Aisha)

Konkona Sensharma in Wake Up Sid

Konkona Sensharma’s Aisha in Wake Up Sid was all about living her dreams. In her first meeting with Sid, played by Ranbir Kapoor, she expresses the beauty and satisfaction of being financially independent and being responsible for oneself. Later on, when Sid asks her if she isn’t afraid about moving to a new city all by herself, she replies that of course, she is. But now that she’s living her dream, she cannot let fear get the better of her. Aisha is ambitious, yet grounded. Like her, all of us have dreams, big or small. But, it’s important to not let fear direct our decisions in life.

Which female character from Bollywood is your favourite? Tell us in the comments below.


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