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Deepika Padukone, Alia Bhatt, Kangana Ranaut – 5 actresses that changed the game in Bollywood

In Bollywood, women have begun leading and been instruments of change. CineBlitz talks of heroines including Deepika Padukone, Alia Bhatt, Kangana Ranaut, Sonam K Ahuja and Taapsee Pannu, who through their standout potrayals of strong parts, have changed the audience’s attitudes towards women.



In the wake of the gush that followed the release of the film Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga on social media, one particular comment stood out from the rest — that of writer and mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik. He tagged the film’s heroine, Sonam K Ahuja and wrote: “Bollywood actors do safe and patronising roles to protect old Bharat. Bollywood actresses take risks to create a new Bharat.” Needless to add, the tweet went viral. What was so special about this film that made a successful writer take the time out to tweet about a film? It created ripples for exploring the subject of same-sex romance and the struggles of the relationship to find acceptance in society. What’s more, it had a mainstream heroine Sonam K Ahuja playing a lesbian.

Watch the trailer of Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga here:

For an unapologetic fashionista, Sonam has with time, proven to have more spine as an actress than her contemporaries, including the heroes. She has never succumbed to the urge of signing on more films, taking on item numbers or playing just a glamorous prop to the hero, which would have put her among the numero uno contenders. Yet, she turned out to be the heroine of the Box Office in 2018 with three films – PadMan, Sanju and Veere Di Wedding. In 2017, it was Neerja.

Not all of these films had her playing the leading lady, yet her choices do stand out. There seems to be no attempt to play safe. And she is as believable as the girl-next-door wanting to change the world, as she is the ultra glam diva. The actress has carved a unique place for herself. If there is one reason she is not seen as a contender to the numero uno throne, it’s because you know she is not interested in it.

Incidentally, Sonam’s film released after Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi, set the Box Office on fire. With this, Kangana Ranaut not only breathed fire as the Rani of Jhansi, but also made her debut as a director. The film also went on to get a huge opening, earning Rs 53 crores within the first three days of the release. People have been raving about her performance, even as the actress has been in the centre of verbal sparring with her co-director of the film, Radha Krishna Jagarlamudi (Krish) and other Bollywood denizens.

Watch the trailer of Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi here:

Irrespective of her Box Office track record, Kangana has made more impact with her performances film after film – right from her debut in Gangster, to Manikarnika, rightfully picking up a couple of National awards too along the way. Interestingly, the actress has made it so far without working with any of the Khans or Kumars. When she did work with an A-lister hero, Hrithik Roshan, all hell broke loose. The rest, as they say, is history!

Ironically, Kangana’s current object of barbs, Alia Bhatt too, has done much to change the narrative of a heroine in Bollywood, in a short span of seven years. She has shown a lot of spine and wisdom in her choices of films, including setting the tone for 2018, with her effortless performance as an Indian spy in Pakistan in her film Raazi. Besides giving a nuanced performance as a spy, this Alia Bhatt-starrer also became the highest grossing Indian film with a female protagonist.  Gully Boy is largely the story of rapper Murad, but Alia holds her own as the feisty girlfriend Safeena, who wants to live life on her terms. Yes, she has set the tone again for this year.

Watch the trailer of Raazi here:

This brings us to yet another actress of substance – Taapsee Pannu. Clearly, the proverbial outsider and dark horse in Bollywood, her films are turning out to be flag-bearers for women’s emancipation. This turn of image clearly started taking place with Naam Shabana, where she played an undercover agent. But Pink (2016), in which she played a rape victim, triggered off a mini-revolution of sorts for women’s rights and dignity. She then topped it with Mulk (2018), where, as Aarti, a lawyer who fights for her father-in-law, she helps him reclaim his dignity as a Muslim and a citizen of the country when a family member gets involved in terrorism.

At the end of the year, she played a sexually liberated girl Rumi, who has to make up her mind between her boyfriend and her husband in Manmarziyaan. The actress has clearly emerged as the face of the modern Indian woman. So when you see her reuniting with her Pink co-star Amitabh Bachchan in Badla, expectations are bound to run high.

Watch the trailer of Badla here:

How can the list be complete without Deepika Padukone? You can’t see her play anything but larger-than-life characters like Rani Padmavati, Mastani and Meenamma, who can rescue her heroes. However, if there is a defining role for the actress, it is that of the modern and independent Indian girl Piku.

Watch the trailer of Padmaavat here:

Meghna Gulzar promises to bring the actress back from the world of royalty to reality with Chhapaak, which is based on the life of acid-attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal. Her first biopic – will Deepika give us another breakthrough performance with this film? Let’s wait and watch…