9th March 2020

5 Most Influential Film Starring A Female Hero

In recent  times there’s been torrent of  films where the heroine has taken centrestage.  In  the first two months of 2020 alone there were at least three major  heroine-centric  films Chapaak, Panga and Thappad. In the past , films  featuring  women in central roles were rare. Here are   5  films from the past where the female hero took centrestage.

1.     Mother India (1958): Nargis  Dutt was  in her 20s when she played her future husband Sunil Dutt’s 70-year  old  mother   in Mehboob Khan’s magnum  opus  Mother India, an epic tale of  Good Son , Bad Son and Conflicted Mother with Nargis in a  performance that defined dramatic acting  for all times to come. Later on , Nargis  was  to confess she  never thought the  film would become  synonymous  with her career. She did other female-oriented  films like  Lajwanti and Raat Aur Din. But  everywhere she went she was hailed as  Mother India.

Also Read:  “Everything Just Fell Into Place,” Baba Azmi Wins Big In Dublin

2.     Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam(1962):  One of  the finest performance by a  female actor in Indian cinema, if not THE  single-most accomplished performance by  an actress , Meena Kumari is  to  this film what  the Vatican is to Italy. Playing the lonely alcoholic wife of an uncaring decadent  Zamindar, Meena Kumari ripped  the screen  apart  with her raw display  of  emotions. There are timeless  sequences here where she  pulled  out all stops,  like the one where she  pleads with her husband groveling  on the  ground for him to stay home rather than  visit a brothel. I have goosebumps as  I write this. Many felt Meena  Kumari was playing herself  on screen, a beautiful lonely alcoholic woman…… Koi door se awaaz de chale aao…coming coming to watch  the film again.

3.     Bandini(1963):  A  year after Meena  Kumari established a   place among the  greatest  performers  of all times, another great actress Nutan immortalized herself  in a  film and role that  define  the spirit of conflicted  muliebrity.Nutan  plays  Kalyani whose  unconditional  love for  a  rebel-leader(Ashok Kumar) takes her from love to jealousy to  murder and  finally to a  future  of uncertainty where love  lingers even as hope  wanes. Every time I watch Nutan in Bandini I  wonder how she conveyed so much with so little outward expression. It’s a quietly expressive  performance filled with a kind of muted rage that needed no melodramatic manifestation.

Also Read:  Mercy Killing ,Yes…But “Guzaarish” Was Not A Sad Film

4.     Arth(1984): Shabana Azmi  blew the screen into smithereens  as a deserted  wife  who climbs out of her  dark future to claim a  place under the sun on her own terms. Says Shabana, “Among  all the  film I’ve one  Mahesh Bhatt’s Arth remains a milestone.I continue to meet women who say that it was a transformative experience for them and gave them tremendous strength. The telephone conversation I had with my screen-soutan Smita Patil  was the  toughest scene of my career.”

5.     Bhumika(1977):  Smita Patil  lived a  brief but brilliant life. Her career is  illuminated  by  dazzling  performances, none more so than Shyam Benegal’s Bhumika where she  played the Marathi actress Hansa Wadekar , a bohemian spirited  woman who walked out on her parasitical husband to have a  series  of  ill-conceived relationships with men who used  her as  much as she used them. At  a time when  women were  destined to remain  tied down to one man and one marriage, come what may, Smita’s Hansa Wadekar dares to cross the threshold. This was Vishal Bhardwaj’s Saat Khoon Maaf  from before  Priyanka Chopra  was  born.Smita  Patil is dead. Long live woman power in Hindi cinema.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *