The rise of feminine power in movies

Neerja Bhanot’s biopic in 2016 showcased the underestimated feminine power of an ordinary flight attendant who not only saved the lives of passengers on board, but also sacrificed her life defending the terrorists. Not only the audience loved the movie, but also applauded the story and the performance. The recent movies like ‘Pink’, ‘Naam Shabana’ , ‘Phillauri’ were all about the various shades of feminine spirit. Some were courageous, lovable, unsung and some even waiting for love after life. Bollywood has definitely started recognizing the role of feminine power in movies.

Priyanka Chopra as Mary Kom in the sports biopic

An actress is no longer an oppressed victim or an eye candy. She is a fearless hero in herself who can overshadow even a celebrated star. It is not that Bollywood hasn’t made women-centric movies. There are countless movies dedicated to feminine spirit. Classic movies like ‘Pakeezah’, Sujata’, ‘Mera Saaya’, ‘Sharmilee’, ‘Seeta aur Geeta’ were testimony to the several faces of womanhood. The 90’s movie – Damini directed by Rajkumar Santoshi was a cult movie which highlighted the struggle of a woman to seek justice for her maid who was brutally raped. Since 90’s movies were all stuffed with item songs, action and comedy, there was no place for woman oriented cinema.

Neerja showcased the extraordinary courage of an ordinary girl

Yashraj Films gave a new lease of life to feminine power with the sports movie – Chak de featuring Shahrukh Khan as coach for women hockey team. Inspired by a true story, Chak de India recognized the unsung power of femininity. Not just movies, but even television has shown some of the inspiring serials. In late 80’s, actress Kavita Chaudhary came up with an inspiring TV show – Udaan which was based on life of Kiran Bedi, the courageous female cop. Even Rajni, a popular TV show on Doordarshan was based on an ordinary house wife who solves the issues happening in society. The 2011 movie – Dirty Picture exposed the dirty side of cinema and the story of an actress who will go to any lengths to find her mark in the movie world. This movie was based on Silk, a forgotten actress of South movies. Though Dirty Picture was a successful at box-office, the bold theme was not meant for family audience.

Phillauri was an entertaining movie focused around a ghost bride

In today’s society, a stud is admired for his flamboyant skills, but the same admiration doesn’t apply for a tomboy natured girl who has too many male colleagues in her social circle. She is labeled as a slut. What a low-leveled mindset of today’s society !! The movie Pink highlighted the dark truth of today’s 21st century women and how they are subjected to molestation, verbal harassment if they don’t agree to the lusty demands of spoilt aristocratic boys. Pink was a hard hitting movie highlighting the plight of girls staying in Delhi. The upcoming movie – Maatr will see actress Raveena Tandon as an avenger seeking vengeance on the people responsible for raping and killing her daughter. The 1998 movie – Dushman starring Kajol was based on Hollywood movie – Eye for an Eye. A brilliant projection of feminine spirit, it showed Kajol avenging the death of her twin sister who is killed by a psychopath. Other woman oriented movies like Chandni Bar, Astitva, Satta were topical and highlighted the struggle of woman for her identity. It is not that woman oriented movies have to be just serious. It can be a rom-com too. Movies like Aisha, Jab we Met, Hasee toh Phasee showed the jovial side of femininity. The Sonam Kapoor starrer – Aisha was based on Jane Austen’s best-selling novel – Emma, a match maker who ends up messing the lives of her friends by choosing a wrong partner for them and confusion erupts.

Naam Shabana is story of a undercover field agent

Now the dynamics of movie making has changed recently. Movies like ‘No one killed Jessica’, ‘Piku’, ‘Jab We Met’, ‘Highway’, ‘Neerja’, ‘Fashion’, ‘Mary Kom’ , ‘Mardaani’, ‘Akira’, ‘NH10’ have strong content focusing on female power. The recently released movie – Naam Shabana is loosely inspired on life of a real field agent. Even the romantic comedy ‘Phillauri’ featuring Anushka Sharma as the ghost bride is winning the hearts of audiences’ worldwide. The upcoming movies – Maatr, Noor, Mom, Begum Jaan are all topical showcasing the different strength of women coming from various walks of life.

Sonakshi Sinha will be portraying role of an aspiring journalist in upcoming movie – Noor

Bollywood is all geared to come up with more topical movies which will not only be entertaining, but also focus on the feminine power that was trampled by egoistic masculine star power. There will be a time when audience won’t need any Dabanng hero anymore. A powerful story will be enough to attract the audience to theatres.

Nation hasn’t forgotten you Neerja bhanot

‘Tough times don’t last but tough people do’ – lines from motivational book by Robert Schuller

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Buried in debris of time and ignorance, the martyrdom of flight attendant Neerja bhanot is justified with her 2016 biopic – Neerja released on 19th Feb 2016. The movie has not only been appreciated by critics, but also applauded by audience all over the world. Sadly, it took so many years for the world to know the valour of Neerja bhanot. After watching the biopic – Neerja, my heart specially went for her old mother – Rama bhanot who lost her daughter at such a ripe age of 22. Neerja was not like today’s ordinary girls who love clicking selfies or heading for restaurants. She was destined to become a great icon of courage in pages of history which is filled with stories of rani laxmibai and Joan of arc.

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The most moving and heart wrenching moment in the biopic was the return of Neerja bhanot in coffin which was the tragic and heart breaking moment for her family. Ironically she was going to turn 23 on 7th September 1986. Though terrorists killed her with their bullets, they couldn’t kill her determination to free the 359 passengers on the plane. She died, but she succeeded. Even in hours of terror, fear and threat,   she maintained her calmness and offered water and refreshments to the panicked passengers. Till the last breath of her life, she faced the terrorists and foiled their plans by opening the emergency exit door for the passengers. She could have easily fled away from the plane. But she didn’t. She took the bullets for the three children who were targeted by one of the terrorists. After seeing the movie, all the survivors on the plane are sending their thank you messages on social networks, reminiscing how Neerja saved their lives. She was the  Joan of arc of our nation. Fondly called as ‘lado’ by her family, Neerja was an ardent fan of super star Rajesh khanna. Even her broken marriage didn’t deter her spirits. She faced every adversity with a smile.

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Recently Rama bhanot, mother of neerja expired on December 2015.
It’s so unfortunate moment that she couldn’t see the movie which was based on her daughter. A part time model and a flight attendant, Neerja’s memories are her photographs in print ads and her appearances in television commercials. ‘The neerja I knew’ is the new published book, a memoir written by her elder brother. Through this book, one will get a glimpse of neerja’s family, her friends and every minute detail of hijacking that happened on the flight.

The day prior to the ill fated flight, Neerja returned home after an exhaustive ad shoot and was too tired to go for her flight attendant duty. Even though her mother insisted her to take a leave, Neerja didn’t skip her job. Unfortunately the flight became her last flight of her life. She left home never to come back. A young recipient of Ashok chakra, the late Neerja bhanot is a renewed force, a dynamic enthusiasm, an epitome of courage that still inspires us. Though I had written an article on neerja in my previous blog post, but somewhere I felt that this tribute to the braveheart was less. Thus this new article is an extension, a heart felt tribute to the late Neerja bhanot. This nation will always remember you Neerja.

Jai hind
Prashant badiger