Women's Day 2024: 10 Trailblazing Women From Bollywood

Happy Women’s Day

Women's Day 2024: 10 Trailblazing Women From Bollywood

Waheeda Rehman in Guide. (courtesy: YouTube)

First, let us wish you all a Happy Women's Day. The day, observed on March 8, aims to celebrate the remarkable achievements of women around the world. So on this special day, we have decided to take a look at the female trailblazing characters of Indian cinema. Bollywood, over the years, has gifted us some of the most powerful characters, played brilliantly by Hindi cinema's leading ladies. From Nargis in Mother India to Waheeda Rahman in Guide and Shabana Azmi in Arth, these characters have created a special place in the hearts of fans.

Nargis, Mother India

Nargis Dutt's Radha is a righteous mother, who shoots down her son (portrayed by Sunil Dutt) for being on the wrong side of the law. The 1957 cult film was directed by Mehboob Khan. From Nargis' power-packed performance to the gripping storyline, Mother India is considered one of the most iconic films made in Bollywood. Mother India was also nominated for Best Foreign Film category at the Oscars.

Devika Rani, Achyut Kanya

Devika Rani, widely regarded as the first lady of Indian cinema, played the role of an “untouchable” girl (Kasturi) who falls in love with an upper-class Brahmin boy (Pratap, portrayed by Ashok Kumar. The film shows how Kasturi and Pratap struggle to keep their relationship alive. 

Meena Kumari, Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam

Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, Guru Dutt's masterpiece, holds a special place in our hearts. Meena Kumari as alcoholic Choti Bahu was brilliant. In the film, Meena Kumari plays a long-suffering wife, who takes the help of alcohol in her struggles with a philandering husband. 

Waheeda Rehman, Guide

Bollywood legend Waheeda Rehman dared to play a rebellious Rosie in the 1965 Dev Anand film. Her decision was much loved and appreciated by the audiences and critics. From dance sequences to the never-ending drama, Guide was a thought-provoking movie. 

Smita Patil, Bhumika

Legendary actress Smita Patil played the role of Usha in Shyam Benegal's masterpiece. The film, based on the life of Marathi stage and screen star Hansa Wadkar, also featured Amol Palekar and  Anant Nag. Smita Patil's spontaneity and intensity on screen gave life to Usha's character.  

Shabana Azmi, Arth

Shabana Azmi once said, “One film that changed my life was Mahesh Bhatt's Arth.”  In the film, Shabana's Pooja takes a bold step as she decides to leave her husband, who cheats on her. 

Sharmila Tagore, Aradhana

Sharmila Tagore was a real trailblazer who was known for her unapologetic approach. From wearing a bikini to picking strong characters, the veteran actress has done it all with so much ease. Her character Vandana, in Aradhana, was something that people hadn't seen in the 60s and 70s. Vandana falls in love with Arun (Rajesh Khanna) and they secretly get married. Things take a turn when Arun dies in a plane crash and Vandana, who is pregnant, fails to prove their marriage to society. She fights all the odds and decides to give birth. In one of her recent interviews with NDTV, Sharmila Tagore had said, “Aradhana was the RRR of our time.”

Parveen Babi, Deewar

While the film cemented Amitabh Bachchan's image as the angry young man of Bollywood, Praveen Babi's Anita too left an impact on the audience. It was also her breakthrough role. She plays Vijay's love interest who is confidant and supports him throughout his journey. 

Zeenat Aman, Satyam Shivam Sundaram

In this iconic film, Zeenat Aman's Rupa is a villager with a disfigured face. Raj Kapoor's film was controversial for its portrayal of sexuality. Talking about her character and the controversies around it, Zeenat Aman had said, “Anyone acquainted with the history of Bollywood will know that there was much controversy and brouhaha about my character Rupa in Satyam Shivam Sundaram. I was always quite amused by the accusations of obscenity as I did not and do not find anything obscene about the human body. I am a director's actor and these looks were part of my job. Rupa's sensuality was not the crux of the plot, but a part of it. As it is, the set is not even remotely a sensual space. Every move is choreographed, rehearsed and performed in front of dozens of crew members.”

Hema Malini, Seeta Aur Geeta

Hands down this is one of the memorable performances by Hema Malini. She plays a double role in the film. Seeta is a heiress, who is ill-treated by her aunt, whereas her long-lost twin sister Geeta is a street performer. Things take a turn for good when the two sisters swap places. The Ramesh Sippy film also featured Dharmendra and Sanjeev Kumar.

Happy Women's Day, everyone.