Strong female characters rule the OTT. Bollywood, please catch up

What is popular in some of the most admired Indian web series of the year, be it lid, scoopor Experiment with fire? They are all themed female characters. while others love Sort And JubileeNot led by heroines, it depicts strong female characters who encapsulate the struggle of women to claim their place in men’s world.

Anjali Bhatti (Sonakshi Sinha) who paint Not only does she wear her femininity with pride, but she also affirms her lower class identity. She invokes the constitution of the feudal lord when he refuses her entry to his palace. May appears as an anomaly riding a police bike while boys tease and taunt her, but by the end of the season she convincingly proves that it is not she but the world around her that is an anomaly in 21st century India.


Sonakshi Sinha in paint

Jagroti Pathak (Karisma Tana) Who scoop She makes no apologies for her gender as she makes her way to the male stronghold to report crimes. Much of the character’s crisis occurs because of her gender identity. Her imprisonment is presented as punishment for her choice of profession.

Neelam Krishnamurthy (Rajshree Deshpande) who Experiment with fireHe refuses to give in in the face of coercion, the threat of powerful perpetrators, and the indifference of the system. Despite being a mother, her quest is about justice and ending. She displays remarkable strength in the face of adversity and seeks elusive justice even when her husband gives up hope.

Megha Vyas (Rashid Khanna) that Sort Not just an eye candy or love interest, he is a professional with relentless perseverance. However, she has to fight to find a place on her dream team.

Sumitra Kumari (Aditi Rao Hydari) from Jubilee, a period drama that takes place during the period of independence and partition of India, is a fascinating character. The starlet who is searching for an identity independent of her powerful husband and ready to break her marriage to reunite with her beau in colonial India is undoubtedly ahead of her time.

In contrast to Indian web shows, Indian cinema only showed two notable films with heroines this year: Kerala story And Ms. Chatterjee vs. Norway. but, Kerala story It revolves around harming the female protagonist, while Ms. Chatterjee vs. Norway It steadily portrays the titular character as a mother and wife.

Although the year’s most successful films feature female characters in prominent roles, with the exception of PathanThey tend to portray women as either victims or succumbing to the pressures of the patriarchal system.

Shalini Unnikrishnan (Ada Sharma) who Kerala story She is a naive girl. Her sense of personal freedom in matters of choosing her friends, clothes, and lover is portrayed as fraught with dangers of ending up in captivity. Her only victory is her escape from ISIS custody and her survival. But she is destined to spend the rest of her years in an Afghan prison. The movie ends on a tragic note when she expresses her desire to return home to her mother.

Teeny (Shraddha Kapoor) who Tu Jhoothi ​​Main Makkaar, as a fiercely independent woman, but in the end, the hero and his family force her to accept his request. The film subtly puts the message that independence is not a state of existence for girls but just a phase of life until they get married.


Shraddha Kapoor in Tu Jhoothi ​​Main Makkaar

In Shalini’s case, her insistence on making her own choices denies her basic freedom. As for Tiny, she reluctantly gives up her freedom to be with her lover. Both films subtly allude to the dangers and infertility of women making their own choices.

The female characters in the web series shine compared to the films of the same period. For Anjali Bhatti paintHowever, her career is more important than her mother’s desire to marry her. This does not mean that she is asexual, but she also does not believe that a physical relationship should necessarily lead to marriage. Although the story is set in a small town in predominantly patriarchal Rajasthan, Anjali Bhatti is more modern in her outlook than the outwardly flamboyant big city girl Tini from Tu Jhoothi, Main Makkaar.

Why do Indian web series introduce strong female characters while Hindi cinema stays away from them? If making films featuring strong female characters is considered a unviable project, how is it Gangbai Kathiawadi It became one of the most successful films of the previous year? Or how I liked the movies queen (2013), fig (2016), pink (2016), Nerja (2016), Razi (2018), and several films that are celebrated as successes?

Is this phenomenon the result of a post-pandemic reality where only big films are considered worthy of theatrical release and films led by women are not considered big unless they are in line with the messages of the ruling?

(Bikas Mishra is an award-winning writer and director based in Mumbai)

Disclaimer: These are the personal opinions of the author.

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