When it comes to the Hindi film industry, women have shifted from being the centre of films to the periphery and then back into the centre. And as far as the recent times are concerned, there have been an avalanche of films centred on women. Here are some of the best women-centric films that the industry has gifted its viewers with in the last ten years:
Matrubhoomi (2003): How does living in a world without women feel like? Writer/Director Manish Jha’s project came across as one that is extraordinarily relevant in our times where female foeticide is constantly on the rise. Tulip Joshi plays the lead role – the only woman in an ocean of men – somewhere in 2050AD. The film received a lot of acclaim for bringing alive on celluloid a bold, out-of-the-box theme.
Chameli (2004): The story of a prostitute and an investment banker; and ace directors Anand Balan and Sudhir Mishra in the pilot’s seat. ‘Chameli’ is a film which necessarily deals with the marginalised prostitute whose philosophy of life alters the high brow investment banker’s way of living. Kareena Kapoor and Rahul Bose’s stunning performances added to the sublime quality of the film.
Parineeta (2005): ‘Parineeta’, a novella penned by renowned writer Sarat Chandra Chatterjee, is one that deals with the trajectory of a – as the name suggests, ‘married woman’. Director Pradeep Sarkar’s beautifully adapted film, aided by a mesmerising Vidya Balan in the lead role, won ‘Parineeta’ a lot of acclaim. Saif Ali Khan, Sanjay Dutt and Raima Sen play other pivotal characters in the film.
Dor (2006): Revolving around two women whose fates bring them together and tie them with a dor that leaves them inseparable from each other. ‘Dor’ is the story of women empowerment and sisterhood at one level and the unfair oppression of women on the other. Gul Panag and Ayesha Takia perform the main roles with remarkable élan.
Chak De! India (2007): The sports drama film, which created strong ripples in the world of sports in general and women’s hockey in particular back when it released, received huge applause from every walk of life. Shah Rukh Khan plays the coach of the Indian women’s hockey team, and the film ranks as one of Khan’s best till date.
Fashion (2008): On its surface a film dealing with the world of fashion, the eponymous film directed by Madhur Bhandarkar went on to speak volumes about women, their aspirations and the dark side-effects of over-ambition. ‘Fashion’ secured for itself two National Awards – one for Priyanka Chopra, the Best Actress that year; and for Kangana Ranaut, the Best Supporting Actress that year.
Ishqiya (2010): A black comedy thriller directed by Abhishek Chaubey, dealt with a femme fatale played spectacularly by Vidya Balan. The scheming, seductive Vidya Balan pulls off a stunner in this one and along with the veteran Naseeruddin Shah and spectacular Arshad Warsi manage to keep the audience glued to the screen. Balan won herself the Critics’ award for Best Performance at Filmfare that year.
No One Killed Jessica (2011): Based on the yet unsolved Jessica Lal murder case, ‘No One Killed Jessica’ deals with the lives of two strong women – Rani Mukerji as the gutsy, daring journalist and Vidya Balan as Jessica Lal’s brooding, spectacular elder sister. The film, directed by Rajkumar Gupta, threw the then-subsided case back into prominence and the incident received a lot of attention thereafter. In addition to being praised wholeheartedly by critics, ‘No One Killed Jessica’ won the Best Supporting Actress’ Filmfare Award for Rani Mukerji.
The Dirty Picture (2011): Vidya Balan’s next Filmfare Best Actress’ award came in for her portrayal of Silk Smitha in Milan Luthria’s ‘The Dirty Picture’. Based mostly on the life of the Southern sex siren Silk, the film dealt with the after-effects of fame and so on. Vidya Balan’s jaw-dropping performance set the ball rolling for ‘The Dirty Picture’ and turned it into one of the seminal films of the year.
English Vinglish (2012): Sridevi’s return to the big screen after fifteen years was marked by this gem of a film. Debutante director Gauri Shinde, in her very first project, nailed it. She made sure that viewers were left with moist eyes and an altered perspective of their un-English-educated mothers. Sridevi’s stellar performance made for a beautiful, soul-stirring watch, and ‘English Vinglish’ had women empowerment written all over it!