Here’s how Indo-Pak Cinema celebrated powerful women
We celebrate women empowerment and talk about celebrating women quite often, as if this is something new; actually, in India and Pakistan, filmmakers have always tried to come up with subjects and films which celebrated women.
Right from the inception of film industry in Indo-Pak, women-centric and women-oriented subjects have been discussed, where women are shown as the strongest pillar of the society.
In almost every decade, films on women have been made to highlight that woman is the example of love, affection, sacrifice and can actually build a nation by developing a society that stands on the preaching of them.
Following are just a few films from a huge list which celebrates and highlights the role, traits and significance of women in Indo-Pak.
Mother India – 1957
Mehboob Khan’s Mother India is a classic tale of love, sacrifice and discipline. This film is considered as the finest classic in Bollywood and showcases the hardships a woman goes through in her lie as a wife and as a mother. Nargis outdid herself in making the character look so authentic and original. If you want to see how tributes are given to mothers then Mother India is a timeless classic.
Saheli – 1860
S.M. Yusuf’s Saheli is a tale of two friends who fall in love with the same man. There are elements of friendships, love, sacrifice, jealousy and a lot more. Shamim Ara and Nayyar Sultana became most prominent leading ladies of 60’s after this film because of the impeccable performances. The film also featured Darpan the superstar of that era. Saheli is a simple story filled with great portrayal of women’s life.
Guide – 1965
Guide is definitely a film that is titled for Dev Anand but the film highlights the story of a married woman who rediscovers herself and her love for dance, with the help of the Guide i.e. Dev Anand. What happens next in her life is a treat to watch. Waheeda Rehman gives a brilliant performance and is still remembered for this film. Vijay Anand’s Guide is smartly penned and executed which not only keeps the leading man in limelight but also highlights the leading lady with grandeur.
Zarqa – 1969
Riaz Shahid’s Zarqa which featured Neelo in the title lead is another classic which tells the story of a woman and how far she can go. A film which celebrated the woman empowerment and ability of a woman to take bold steps in the times when they are actually needed, even today the “Raqs Zanjeer Pehan Kar Bhi” is remembered by millions for multiple reasons. The film revolved around Palestinian beration movement against Israel.
Society Girl – 1976
Sangeeta’s debut film as a director was a cult classic titled Society Girl. The film was ahead of its time and featured a story that was not easier to digest by Pakistani audience but the way it was penned, executed and how everyone performed their characters made it a classic.
Khushboo – 1979
Nazar Shabab’s take on women in Khushboo was very interesting. He showed two extreme ends of a woman one played by Raani and the other by Mumtaz (who played Raani’s daughter in the film). At one place woman is shown selfless, chained in her societal do’s and don’ts and other the other hand she’s shown the daring, smart and impressive in whatever she does. Khushboo is beautifully penned and offers some clap-worthy dialogues which are very realistic and relatable in our society. The antagonist in the film was played by Shahid.
Umrao Jaan Ada & Umrao Jaan – 1972 & 1981
Mirza Hadi Ruswa’s novel Umrao Jaan Ada was so powerful that in India and Pakistan filmmakers couldn’t resist but make a film on the same. In 1972, Raani played the lead role in Pakistani film, directed by Hasan Tariq, where she displayed the charisma, charm and beauty as Umrao Jaan opposite Shahid. In 1981 Rekha mesmerized her audience as the lead role; the film was directed by Muzaffar Ali. These two films displayed the character of a woman in a totally different aspect and they were really well-made films. However, 2006’s Umrao Jaan featuring Aishwariya Rai and directed by J. P. Dutta was the weakest one and had nothing substantial to offer, keeping the previous classics in mind.
Mary Kom – 2014
A film which is not just a tribute to the Olympic pride of India but also strengthens the image of woman by showcasing what she has to go through in daily life is definitely worth a watch. Omung Kumar’s Mary Kom pays homage to many women striving and struggling in their lives. Priyanka Chopra’s performance and dedication to transform physically as Mary Kom made her stand in the list of finest actresses with this film.
English Vinglish – 2012
One of the most talked about films of recent times by R. Balki and Guari Shinde which features Sri Devi in the avatar of a simple and easy going but not so good in English speaking woman, English Vinglish is a classic. The film not only showcases the ability of a woman to surprise society at any age but also highlights the element of women empowerment. The film also talks about family and how people shouldn’t be judgmental from the family but should always be there to support one another.
Mom – 2017
Ravi Udyawar’s Mom received appreciation by critics and masses. The film featured Sri Devi in the title character and she nailed it. The film spotlights on the power of a woman, especially a mother, who can go to any level to achieve her goal. Mom is a modern day classic which shouldn’t be missed.
Pakistani cinema is still trying to come up with interesting topics and subjects which highlight issues and strengths of women.
Recently, Pakistan International Film Festival (PIFF) celebrated Women in Films by organizing a huge event which had some prominent names in the panel and attendees like Haseena Moin, Sultana Siddiqui, Reema, Zeba Bakhtiar, Bushra Ansari, Runina Ashraf, Momina Duraid and Sania Saeed apart from many other giant names.
One must appreciate the steps taken by the film fraternity of Pakistan for their never say die approach and keep striving towards making films on topics which discuss women.