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Ten must-watch women-centric films

Sonam Kapoor-starrer 'Neerja' earned Rs22 crore at the box office on its opening weekend. A list of 10 other women-centric movies

Sonam Kapoor in a still from ‘Neerja’ <br />
Sonam Kapoor in a still from ‘Neerja’

New Delhi: Sonam Kapoor-starrer Neerja, which earned 22 crore at the box office on its opening weekend, is one of those rare films that revolve around the extraordinary courage of a real-life woman. Neerja Bhanot, a Pan Am flight attendant who died saving the lives of passengers on board a hijacked flight in 1986, is the protagonist of the film that released on Friday. Here’s a list of 10 other women-centric movies produced by Bollywood, often accused of treating women actors as mere props.

1. Mother India (1957): Mehboob Khan’s epic drama remains the ultimate Bollywood ode to the Indian woman. Nargis played the lead role, doubling up as mother to her own children and to society at large. The film was India’s first submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1958 and made 6 crore at the time of release. Adjusted for inflation, it counts as one of the biggest box office hits in Indian cinematic history.

2. Arth (1982): The semi-autobiographical film written and directed by Mahesh Bhatt tackled the issue of a woman’s battle with male infidelity at a time when such issues were hardly ever taken up. It made close to 1 crore at the box office and won female lead Shabana Azmi the national award for best actor.

3. Mirch Masala (1987): Ketan Mehta’s colonial tale of a fiery village woman who fights a local tax collector’s advances is a classic example of a film ahead of its times. Starring Smita Patil along with Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri and Suresh Oberoi, the film won the national award for best feature film in Hindi, besides earning Patil a ranking in Forbes’ list of ‘25 Greatest Acting Performances of Indian Cinema’ in 2013.

4. Chandni Bar (2001): Director Madhur Bhandarkar became synonymous with hard-hitting female-centric cinema after this Tabu-starrer based on the life of a Mumbai bar girl. The film made a little over 2 crore at the box office and earned Tabu the national award for best female actor, besides other recognitions.

5. Lajja (2001): The Rajkumar Santoshi-directed film takes a satirical look at the male-dominated Indian society through the lives of four women, all of whose names are variations of Sita, the ideal Hindu woman name. The film, starring Rekha, Madhuri Dixit, Manisha Koirala and Mahima Chaudhary, was not much of a commercial success with collections of 9 crore.

6. No One Killed Jessica (2011): The biographical thriller based on the controversial Jessica Lal murder case featured Vidya Balan as Sabrina, Lal’s sister, and Rani Mukerji as a crusading news reporter. Directed by Rajkumar Gupta, the film enjoyed a successful box office run with collections of nearly 25 crore.

7. Kahaani (2012): The mystery thriller, co-written and directed by Sujoy Ghosh, was set in Kolkata during the Durga Puja festival and followed a pregnant woman (Vidya Balan) in search of her missing husband. The film that often employed guerrilla shooting techniques made more than 50 crore at the box office and won both Balan and Ghosh several awards that season.

8. English Vinglish (2012): Sridevi made a comeback in the comedy drama about a middle-class housewife who enrols in an English-speaking course in New York and realizes the kind of self-respect she’s been missing all the while. The Gauri Shinde-directed film made close to 35 crore at the box office.

9. Queen (2014): Kangana Ranaut starred in the comedy drama about a young, over-protected Delhi girl who decides to go off on her honeymoon by herself after her fiancé dumps her just before their wedding. The widely acclaimed film earned 61 crore at the box office and won Ranaut the national award for best female actor.

10. NH10 (2015): Anushka Sharma starred in and co-produced this thriller based on a couple’s road trip gone awry after their encounter with a gang of criminals in Haryana. Though panned for its violence, debutant director Navdeep Singh‘s film emerged as a sleeper hit with collections of 32 crore.

All figures have been sourced from movie websites Bollywood Hungama and IBOS Network.

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