Indian film industry has always been a male-dominated territory. Although there have been leading ladies who hold their own and command equal respect from the industry people, it is more or less a men’s playing field. However, there still have been plenty of times when the female characters have come out to be quite stronger than their male counterparts. These female characters have stayed in the memory of people long after their movies have been released.
This list is a compilation of all the female characters in Bollywood that could give their male counterparts a run for their money.
#1. Rani in Queen
This is one character that sparked a fresh wave of feminism in the mainstream Indian mindset. It not only inspired women, but also the younger girls to find their true selves and not get bogged down under any kind of social pressure. The character is shown as naïve and scared at first. But when she is left by her would-be groom on her wedding day, she decides enough is enough, and goes for her honeymoon alone to Paris. Once in Paris, she sees the world without any inhibitions and becomes her own person.
#2. Geet in Jab We Met
She is portrayed as a feisty live wire who does not feel embarrassed about speaking her mind. She is also shown as a person with a lot of self-respect. She also bears the consequences of her actions and thinks the world of her family. To save her parents embarrassment, she runs off in the hope of finding her lover and persuading him to accompany her back to her village. Despite being rejected by her lover, she rises up to the occassion and starts living on her own.
#3. Vidya Bagchi in Kahaani
This character is a very determined person, and is hell-bent on bringing her husband’s killers to justice. She is also portrayed as a very smart and intelligent woman who knows how to get what she wants. In the end, she brings her husband’s killer to justice in a very gory and bloody way. The character is remembered for her ferocity and resemblance of attitude to Goddess Durga.
#4. Laila in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara
This character is quite effervescent in her approach to everything in life. She teaches Arjun, the true meaning of life through very simple guidance and examples. She ends up falling for that guy and rides a bike to profess her feelings for him in one of the most memorable scenes of the film. She has been portrayed as a free-spirited person who does things for the nourishment of her soul and not money.
#5. Meghna in Fashion
The movie was about three different supermodels and their lives and how they ended up in life. The character of Meghna is that of a small town girl who reaches Mumbai to fulfill her modelling dreams, and quickly rises to the top of the ladder by losing her morals. However, when success gets to her head, she falls from grace. But with her grit and determination, she is able to bounce back and reclaim her lost glory.
#6. Mandira in My Name Is Khan
She is shown as a woman with a lot of responsibilities and hardships in equal measure. She is a Hindu woman who is married to a Muslim man and stays with him and their child in the U.S.A. However, the catch is that her husband suffers from a form of mental disability. She is steadfast and a bedrock for her husband. Her son is shown getting killed in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Yet, she sticks to her beliefs no matter what.
#7. Shashi in English Vinglish
Shashi, who is a housewife and homemaker visiting in the U.S.A., is portrayed as a strong woman with great family values. However, she feels embarrassed on more than one occasion about her lack of knowledge of the English language. Still, with a firm resolve, she enrolls into an English learning program, where she makes a whole bunch of friends despite not knowing the language, and succeeds in learning the language with much fluency.
#8. Michelle in Black
Michelle is a girl who is born deaf, blind and mute. Yet, she manages to face the challenges of her life with the help of her teacher whom she holds in high regard. She is yet again forced to prove her gumption when her teacher starts suffering from an ailment. She readily goes on to help him figure out the happiness in living just like the way he had helped her earlier. In the end, she triumphs in teaching the teacher and the audience about the meaning of life.
#9. Meera in No One killed Jessica
This character is a force to reckon with. Meera is a journalist who has a bone of contention with the whole justice system of India because it failed to provide justice to Jessica Lal and her family members. In the movie, she doggedly tails those that are yet to be brought to justice. She is not the one to cry over spilt milk and pursues justice with a single-minded determination. She fights what is a lonely battle in the beginning, but her gumption and determination invoke the courage in other people. And soon, the whole world is standing besides her demanding for justice to be served.
#10. Madhavi in Page 3
This character is shown as the one who seeks truth at all costs. But at first, she is not aware of the machinery that is in function against letting the truth out. She comes face to face with this fact when her bosses ask her to leave her job, or go with their version of the truth. She chooses the former option and leaves her job but not her morals.
The above-mentioned characters are all strong-willed women who gave inspiration to many girls and women in India through their respective stories. We hope to add more such names to the list soon!