The festive season is upon us and it is time to celebrate the different forms of Goddess Parvati during Navaratri, Durga Puja and Diwali. On the occasion, let us take a look at some of the best Hindi films that celebrated the spirit of womanhood by telling stories of strong female protagonists who rose above injustices and took revenge against their oppressors.
One of the most underrated revenge films, N Chandra’s Pratighat made a feminist statement much before it was the norm to do so. When one thinks of this cult hit, they think of the poster of actor Sujata Mehta holding a bloody axe. The film was initially made on a low budget and without popular faces and went on to become a hit on the basis of its content. The film, however, has been gradually lost from public memory and hence deserves a place in our recommendations. At a time when even the law cannot protect innocents from the terror of a powerful gangster, one woman finds herself taking up a weapon to bring justice for herself. The film also starred Nana Patekar, Charan Raj and Rohini Hattangadi in pivotal roles.
Bandit Queen (1994)
Shekhar Kapur’s highly acclaimed film was based on the real-life story of dacoit-turned-politician Phoolan Devi, who faced multiple accounts of sexual harassment and humiliation for being from a low caste. She went on to become a feared leader of a dacoit gang that exacted revenge from her oppressors. While we recommend the film, it is important to note that Phoolan Devi herself had opposed some scenes from the film and claimed that they were exaggerated. The powerful performance of the brilliant Seema Biswas is reason alone to watch the film.
Even though Kahaani is relatively recent and fresh in people’s memories, we cannot help but recommend the film when we are talking about this genre. In fact, Kahaani is a kind of film that can be revisited many times with more details coming to the forefront. An NRI woman comes to Kolkata to find her husband, who has gone missing during her pregnancy. The problem is no one in the city has heard of the man despite her giving accurate descriptions of the places he visited before she lost touch with him. With twists and turns that you will definitely not see coming and an amazing climax taking place during Bijoya Dashami, Kahaani is an obvious recommendation during this time of the year. Directed by Sujoy Ghosh, Kahaani also stars Parambrata Chatterjee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Saswata Chatterjee and Indraneil Sengupta.
Ek Hasna Thi (2004)
It took Sriram Raghavan about a decade to make his first feature film Ek Hasina Thi after his docu-drama about serial-killer Raman Raghav. It was probably worth the wait because it is still considered to be one of the best films he has made. A complicated cat and mouse game from start to finish, Ek Hasina Thi never lets you guess what is coming next. It is also as chilling as it gets. Without spoiling much, the film has the ability to give you nightmares after watching it, and we mean it as a compliment. It stars Urmila Matondkar in one of her best performances. Saif Ali Khan, too is aptly deceptive.
Mirch Masala (1987)
While we are talking about the spirit of womanhood, we should also celebrate the spirit of solidarity. That is exactly what Ketan Mehta celebrates with this film, which has been said to have featured late actor Smita Patil’s finest performance. Sonbai, a headstrong woman, decides to fight against incessant harassment faced by an evil Subedar or tax-collector. The battle for her life and dignity leads to a rebellion from the most unlikely sources of her village. Considered a masterpiece and cult-classic, Mirch Masala also boasts of a rich cast including Patil, Shah, Om Puri, Deepti Naval, Suresh Oberoi and Raj Babbar among others.