Elementary: sneaky joan

Bollywood Movies about Bad Ass Ladies

When I started a spring break Bollywood watching project, I thought I was going to watch some movies with fun music and dancing. And I did! But I also found a secret treasure trove of my favorite thing in the entire world: three-dimensional female protagonists making complicated choices about careers and relationships. Here are my top three recs:

Band Baajaa Baarat
Shruthi, a recent college grad, wants to get married and have kids, but not until she builds the wedding planning business she's always dreamed of. Bittoo has no real career ambitions except that he doesn't want to go back to the family farm. Together, they form an odd-couple just-friends business partnership...until they accidentally get drunk and sleep together. Neither of them handles the fallout well, and their friendship and their business collapse.

My favorite thing about this film is that both characters are equally responsible for the problems in their relationship. Yes, there are some random song and dance numbers and yes, their rapid financial success seems a little too good to be true -- but at its heart, the movie feels like it could happen to any two friends who hook up and don't talk about it. Best of all, the movie doesn't see any contradiction between being a strong woman and wanting to get married, and Bittoo is presented as a viable romantic partner because he respects women. Good luck finding that combination in Hollywood.

Chak De! India
A disgraced men's field hockey player takes on the job nobody wants: coaching India's national women's field hockey team. Predictably, they are a ragtag band with a can-do spirit. Less predictably, the film tackles some serious issues, like ethnic and religious discrimination against minorities. Although the film is ostensibly about the coach (who is pretty easy on the eyes, btw), pretty much every scene passes the Bechdel test, and the various team members get tons of character development too. I was annoyed at the coach is branded as the hero of the film, but I'm willing to give it a pass since he is overcoming prejudice against Muslims while his players are overcoming prejudice against women.

On the eve of her wedding, sweet, sheltered Rani is dumped by her fiance with no explanation. Heartbroken, she decides that she'll take her European honeymoon all by herself instead. You can probably guess that after a few bad days, she makes new friends, gets a makeover, and embarks on a journey of self-discovery - but the mishaps and cultural misunderstandings are pretty hilarious, and Rani gets to become empowered without giving up who she is.

Bride and Prejudice
A Bollywood remix of Pride and Prejudice set in the small Indian city of Amritsar. Mr. Darcy is a foreign businessman who's arrived to attend his friend's wedding, and the Elizabeth role is played by Lalita, a farmer's daughter who isn't sure she wants to get married. Like a lot of remixes, this film lags in places where it sticks too closely to the plot of the original, and their version of Mr. Darcy is a little too wooden. Still, it's fun to see a multicultural take on a British classic, and the musical numbers get a definite A+.
I adore Queen so so so much. The entire thing just made me so happy. And yes, the fact that her experiences don't alter who she fundamentally is - a little quiet and shy - is one of my favourite things about it. if you haven't seen it, may I also recommend My Name is Khan. Less for the amazing women (though they are there) and more for the shift in perspective about something you think you know so much about.
you might be a bit young for this...or not...I have no idea but I also like "aaja nachle" (IMDB LINK) a woman / single mother goes back to India to revive the theatre company in her former village as it was asked by her dance teacher in his dying video-will and she deals w/ a lot of prejudice of being a divorced woman and backwards people.

Edited at 2016-03-16 10:22 pm (UTC)
Hey, I haven't seen the first two! I've seen a lot of Bollywood movies, but there are just so many... I'll have to check those ones out! I liked Bride and Prejudice too. :)
I haven't the seen the first three, but Bride and Prejudice is one of my all time favorite... also, the soundtrack is just amazing! Though, I am going to check out the the other three. I think they might be just up my alley. :D
Damn! Now you make me want to watch Bollywood movies! *G*

I will definitely put those on my list.

Now if they weren't all three hours long on top of that... ;).

Have you seen Kick it like Beckham? How does it compare to the hockey movie?
I have seen Bend It Like Beckham (or Blafuj Jako Beckham, since I saw it in Czech with English subtitles...)

They are similar in that they are both films about women overcoming odds in an athletic event, but Bend It Like Beckham is more narrowly focused on gender issues. Chak De! India is more about overcoming ethnic and religious prejudice to work together as a team, with gender issues woven in around the sides. And while Bend It Like Beckham has a romantic subplot, Chak De! India is pretty much gen. I do think if you liked one, you would probably like the other.
Ha, lol, I forgot that Kick it like Beckham is the German title. Oops.


Turns out I can't get my hands on Chak De, though. :/ Pity.