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Feminism in India

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Feminism in India

Feminism in India is a set of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for Indian women. It is the pursuit of women’s rights within the society of India. Like their feminist counterparts all over the world, feminists in India seek gender equality: the right to work for equal wages, the right to equal access to health and education, and equal political rights. Indian feminists also have fought against culture-specific issues within India’s patriarchal society, such as inheritance laws and the practice of widow immolation known as Sati.

Women in Indian Cinema

Hindi cinema has been a major point of reference for Indian culture in this century. It has shaped and expressed the changing scenarios of modern India to an extent that no preceding art form could ever achieve. Hindi cinema has influenced the way in which people perceive various aspects of their own lives. The three movies that we discuss here have three different points of view towards women. To some extent, they identify areas where “modern feminism” comes into contact with “traditional values.” The analysis which follows tries to decipher and articulate these points of view. It also attempts to determine the ways in which these films affect the discourse generated by the Women’s Movement. But before the analysis, we summarize the plots of these films.

Powerful Women Characters In Indian Cinema That Show What Women Can Truly achieve As PM Narendra Modi launches the “Beti BachaoBetiPadhao Yojna”, we recollect some of the most powerful women characters from Indian cinema who showed what it was that educated and liberated women could achieve. As a medium with the strongest influence on the Indian psyche, we explore through these portrayals how cinema has played an important role in promoting the empowerment of the girl child through the years.

Cinema plays a key role in depicting amazing personalities who inspire us in more ways than one. In an art form that largely casts men in the lead roles and women as supporting cast, there have been some memorable films that deviated from the norm and depicted strong women characters which left a mark on the society and became an inspiration to many.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” Scheme on January 22, 2015, which aims at generating awareness and improving the efficiency of delivery of welfare services meant for girls. When it comes to women empowerment, Indian cinema is not far behind. Here are 11 most powerful and memorable characters that portrayed the strength of women perfectly (spoiler alert ahead) –

1. SHIVANI SHIVAJI ROY of Mardaani

Rani Mukherjee’s portrayal of a fierce cop in Mardaani perfectly showcases the true strength of a woman. The character is based on a real-life cop who solved several child trafficking cases. Shivani Shivaji Roy not only single-handedly beat up some of the worst criminals but held her own against the evil doers. The perfect mix of strength and respect, Roy is an inspiration.

2. GITA of Swades

When most of the youth in villages seem to be migrating to urban cities for better jobs and opportunities, the simple character of Gita (played by Gayatri Joshi) from Swades sets an example of an empowered woman who can make her own decisions. This highly educated village girl gave up lucrative offers in the city and chose to stay in the village to teach kids and reform the village. Her unconditional love for the villagers and her selfless acts made her a strong character which many women would aspire to.

3. MICHELLE in Black

Rani Mukherjee’s character Michelle as the visually and hearing impaired protagonist in the movie Black is one of the most powerful portrayals of a physically handicapped person in Indian cinema. The relationship of Michelle with her aging teacher (Amitabh Bachchan) and how she helps him to rediscover life is very liberating, inspiring and shows the true strength of a woman.

4. ROSIE of Guide

The character of Rosie played by Waheeda Rahman in this 1965 classic showed women in a different light. At a time women were expected to be dutiful and follow their husbands even when unhappy, Rosie left her cheating and unsupportive husband and decided to choose her passion for dancing and someone who valued her as a person. Later, she again followed her heart and drifted apart from her lover when he did not turn out to be what she had expected. Rosie was one of the rare characters in Hindi cinema who stood for what she believed in and made her own choices in life.

5. PREETI SABHARWAL from Chak De

Though all the girls in Chak De did justice to their character, there was one girl who stood out and gave a fresh and powerful answer to the male-dominated society. We are talking about Preeti Sabrawal (Sagarika Ghatge) who portrayed the character of an independent, self-respecting and dignified hockey player who refused to give up her career for her celebrity boyfriend. She not only stood up for herself but was an inspiration to all the ladies who sacrifice their dreams at one point or another because of their partners’ different priorities.

Changing Roles of Women in Indian Cinema

Men in most societies were seen as breadwinners while the role of women was restricted to being a good homemaker and a good mother. This applies to women in a highly patriarchal society of India. As societies entered the world of modernization, the role of women changed dramatically. Media played an important role in the modernization of societies and greatly affected the image of women in today’s modern world. A number of researches have been done on the role of women in different societies. However little has been said about the importance of films in portraying women in shifting roles over different decades and the impact it has on societies in general. Over past decades, Indian cinema has witnessed a significant transformation in the way women are portrayed through films. Contemporary films portray women as more independent, confident, and career-oriented This article deals with these fast-changing role of women portrayed in Indian cinema and its influence on the patriarchal Indian society with a focus on some representative Bollywood films. The aim is to link the changing character played by women in films with the emerging status of women in India, as films are a reflection of changes in the social structure.

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