Female representation


The new focus of cinema on women’s sexuality is much needed in today’s time. Read further to segregate out the misogynistic films from your to-watch list.

Most of us have grown up watching movies like Dhamaal, Munna Bhai MBBS, or Rock On!. They’re all fantastic movies, no doubt about that, comprising a huge part of our childhood. But when you look closely, most of these blockbuster films portrayed women either of submissive characters or merely as a dancer; an object of men’s satisfaction. If not that, in movies like Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, or even Lagaan for that matter, women are resorted to their typical familial roles in society- as a mother, a daughter or a wife.

The biggest example can be seen in the ageless movie, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. The stereotypical roles played by Kajol and Farida Jalal are evidence to Indian audience only being appealed by submissive characters among women. Kabir Singh would be yet another present-day example of a “successful” movie with a plot glorifying one of the most misogynistic lead characters in Bollywood.

Regardless of these commercial films, Bollywood has also presented a platform for cinema to attack gender stereotypes and give a louder voice to the women in India. Movies like Lipstick Under My Burkha, Lust Stories, and Parched follow the lives of different women across the country, depicting their sexual lives or lack thereof. They reflect on the kink residing within women and portray their sexual desires as normal and not-so-dirty.

Caption: Few movies that represent female sexuality without a perverse glance. Credits: The Wire
Image Caption: Few movies that represent female sexuality without a perverse glance.
Image Credits: The Wire


Women’s sexuality is often overlooked in Indian cinema, or simply portrayed as “dirty”. Any woman expressing the slightest hint of lust is viewed as a woman of “loose morals”. However, a man’s sexual urges are seen as his “biological needs”. The aforementioned movies give a more decent expression of these desires within women, intending to normalise the same.

Angry Indian Goddesses is another such movie portraying a diverse set of strong, independent women coming together for a bachelorette party in Goa, while talking about sex, their lives and their sexual lives. It depicts women in solidarity and strength rather than as rivals. They allow their courage to lead them through the path of freedom in search of true happiness.

However, these movies do not tend to do so well commercially because this isn’t the plot that “sells”. Movies like Unfreedom, Margarita With a Straw, Ek Ladki ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, and Super Deluxe are not so popular among the general audience, observing low box-office returns. Clearly, the audience of India doesn’t wish to see women in control of their desires and want them to submit to patriarchy- in society and in their sexualities.

Feature Image Credits: Book My Show

Aditi Gutgutia
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