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Top 10 female-centric Bollywood films in the last 10 years

From Black to NH 10.

By Dileep Thekkethil

BENGALURU: Bollywood has largely remained a hero-centric industry with audience getting to see macho men (no matter what their age) romancing nubile newcomers and divas alike, who at times end up as item girls instead of heroines. But there have been a few exceptional movies in the last 10 years that moved beyond the stereotype.

Here is a list of top 10 women-centric Bollywood films that got critical recognition, starting from 2005, till the present.

Black (2005)

A drama inspired by the life of Helen Keller, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, starring Rani Mukerji, with Amitabh Bachchan playing the role of her teacher. The movie revolves around the teacher-student relationship between a blind and deaf girl and her aging teacher who later develops Alzheimer’s disease. Black received many awards, including the Best Film Award at the Filmfare Awards.

Dor (2006)

Dor is a remake of Malayalam movie Perumazhkalam. The movie starring Ayesha Takia and Gul Panag tell stories of two young women, one who becomes a widow soon after her marriage and the other who pleads for the life of her husband who is jailed in Saudi Arabia for the killing of the latter’s husband. Dor, directed by Nagesh Kukunoor, garnered very good reviews from critics and film buffs.

Fashion (2008)

Fashion is a Bollywood drama directed and co-produced by Madhur Bhandarkar, starring Priyanka Chopra. The movie depicts the life of a small-town girl who goes on to become a supermodel. Other than Chopra, Kangna Ranaut, Mugdha Godse, Arjan Bajwa and Arbaaz Khan also appear in prominent roles.  Fashion won Best Actress award for Chopra and Best Supporting Actress award for Ranaut at the 56th National Film Awards. According to many movie critics, Fashion is one of the “best women-centric films in Bollywood”.

No One Killed Jessica (2011)

No One Killed Jessica is a drama thriller directed by Rajkumar Rao, starring Rani Mukerji and Vidya Balan. The story is based on the murder and investigation of Jessica Lal, a Delhi-based model and restaurant worker who was shot dead in 1999. The movie received Filmfare Award for Best Film, the Filmfare Award for Best Actress and Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress for Rani Mukerji’s performance.

The Dirty Picture (2011)

Dirty Picture, directed by Malian Luthria is a biopic of Silk Smitha, a south Indian actress famous for her sensual roles. The role of Smitha, enacted on the screen by Vidya Balan, received handful of awards for her role as sizzling Smitha. The movie received three National Film Awards, including Best Actress, three Filmfare Awards, and six Screen Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

Kahaani (2012)

Kahaani saw yet another strong character played by Vidya Balan. The film is a mystery thriller directed and co-produced by Sujoy Ghosh. Balan appear onscreen as a pregnant woman searching for her missing husband in Calcutta during the auspicious festival of Durga Puja. Parambrata Chatterjee and Nawazuddin Siddiqui play supporting roles in the movie which turned out to be one of the biggest blockbuster hits of the year.

English Vinglish (2012)

English Vinglish is a Bollywood comedy drama directed by Gauri Shinde with ace actress Sridevi in the lead role of a housewife who joins a short term spoken English course in the US after facing bitter experiences within her family and in the society for her lack of English speaking ability. The movie received positive response from the family audience. Gauri Shinde swept Best Debut Director awards of 2012 for English Vinglish. The movie went on to become India’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film category in Academy Awards that year.

Mary Kom (2014)

Mary Kom is a biopic of India’s Olympic boxing champion of the same name. The movie directed by Omung Kumar has Priyanka Chopra playing the lead role of Kom. The movie touches over her childhood in India till her winning performance in the 2008 World Boxing Championship in Ningbo City. The movie won National Film Award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment at the 62nd National Film Awards.

Mardaani (2014)

Mardaani is a crime thriller directed by Pradeep Sarkar, produced by Aditya Chopra, starring Rani Mukerji, with Jisshu Sengupta and Tahir Raj Bhasin appearing in supporting roles. The movie unfolds the story of a female cop who unravels secrets of human trafficking by the Indian mafia after being assigned a case of a kidnaped teenage girl. The movie received critical appreciation and many states like Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra gave the film a tax-free status for the social message it conveys.

NH 10 (2015)

NH 10 is a thriller, directed by Navdeep Singh, with Anushka Sharma playing the lead role of a young girl who fights it out with a group of criminals after her road trip goes awry. Sharma is also one of the producers of the movie; her maiden production venture. NH 10 got released March 13 and since has been receiving positive reviews.



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