I remember reading an article a few years ago that tagged Bollywood heroines as ‘Zeroines’. At that time, it was somewhat understandable, with heroines appearing in just glorified cameos. It was a fixed deal – four songs, some emotions, perhaps a spicy number. Taking a stock of the last few years, especially 2015, you cannot help celebrate how things have changed!
Almost all of the biggest hits of 2015 are led by heroines. Think Piku, Tanu Weds Manu Returns, NH10 and Dolly Ki Doli.
Anushka Sharma was mind-blowing in NH10, which she also co-produced. Again, it was a challenging, risky role that required as many emotional turns, as it did raw, physical acting. The film captured the viewer’s imagination, and Anushka’s character has stayed on in people’s hearts and mind.
Deepika Padukone played the difficult daughter of a difficult father in Piku. Her character is as strong and steely as it is soft and caring.
In fact, in one of the film’s funniest scenes, she cares so much about her dad’s health and his bowel problems, she innocently lists out the details of his morning business to a doctor. Which is okay, except that she’s on a date with a dishy guy, and is sitting in a swanky restaurant. The guy is shell-shocked, and when she finishes her phone-call and casually asks him to order, the disgusted look on his face clearly shows he has lost his appetite.
The father-daughter duo fights with each other, but is still protective of each other. The role is a new for a Bollywood actor – male or female. It’s not a perfect, white-washed character, the kind we’re used to seeing onscreen. Here, the character has grey shades – she has a temper, is controlling, downright rude, and a white liar. But still, the humaneness of the character sticks with you, and a part of you ends up identifying with her.
Note how Piku has to manage the situation, when her father is accusing the maid of stealing phenyl, and she is trying to calm the maid so she sticks around. She is the only grown-up in the house, as we can see, as her ageing father has resorted to childish tricks to get her attention. And so, our heart warms towards her, and we fall in love with this flawed but extremely lovable character. This is not an easy role, and Deepika has stolen the audience’s hearts with her performance.
The list would be incomplete without Kalki Koechlin’s superb performance in Margarita With A Straw. And Bhumi Pednekar’s super-confident debut with Dum Laga Ke Haisha. Pednekar brought in ample amounts of warmth to her strong character, and her performance was simply a delight. As was Sonam Kapoor’s fun act in Dolly Ki Doli.
And last but certainly not the least, is Tanu Weds Manu Returns. A magical film where the awesome Kangana Ranaut steals the show from herself!! Since the film is still in theatres, it’s best not to reveal much, except that this is one of the finest double role performances by a heroine in Hindi films.
Half the year is over, and our heroines are leading the way in the right direction. Let’s hope they break new barriers, and continue their experimental streak, instead of sticking to tired clichés. I, for one, am sure they will!