Indian cinema had a good year. Bollywood also went out of its way and experimented a little like regional films. It was refreshing to see how mainstream stars like Sonam Kapoor chose projects that may not be accepted by a lot of audiences. Indian cinema addressed subjects ranging from acid attack victims to homosexuality in 2019. Here are some of the best women-centric Indian films of the year.
The period drama inspired by the life of Indian queen Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi won over the audience. The Bollywood film was released in Tamil and Telugu as well. It was a box office success international too. The movie is about the warrior queen who ruled the country after husband and fought the British. She even trained women of her nation to fight in the battle. Queen of Jhansi was described as one of the most rebel leaders by the British. The film opened to a positive response from critics. It was screened at the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival too.
Mission Mangal may have been the most awaited film of the year. As the name suggests, the movie is about the developments that lead to ISRO's launch of Mars Orbiter Mission, first-ever interplanetary expedition of an Indian space agency. Inspired by true events, the film did justice to women scientists of Indian Space Research Organisation. It starred Vidya Balan, Taapsee Pannu, Nithya Menen, Kriti Kulhari, and Sonakshi Sinha. Even though film starred Akshay Kumar as well, most of the screen space was for women. The film was a commercial and critical success in India and worldwide.
Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga was groundbreaking in a lot of ways. It starred Sonam Kapoor and Rajkummar Rao. Straying from typical Bollywood rom-com, the heroine not only rejects the hero, he decided to not stalk her. The duo becomes friends and helps the girl to pursue her love interest who happens to be a woman. There haven’t been many mainstream movies in Bollywood that are LGBTQ+ rom-com. The movie is about educating the parents and society about how normal homosexuality is. It received positive reviews from most of the critics. The film stars Juhi Chawla, Anil Kapoor, and Regina Cassandra too.
Saand Ki Aankh was one of the most controversial movies of 2019, not because of the story but casting. While the story of two 60+ women sharpshooters was lauded, it also received backlash for not casting senior actors. The biographical drama of Chandro Tomar and Prakashi Tomar was brought to life on screen by Taapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar. Unlike most women-centric films are used to, Saand Ki Aankh was released on Diwali festival with other A-listers movies. The film received good reviews and both lead actors were praised for their 'endearing performances'. It did well in the box office as well.
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After the blockbuster success of Mardaani, the entire nation was thrilled to see Shivani Shivaji Roy back on the screen. Rani Mukherjee as the fiery Indian cop was as convincing as the first time. In Mardaani 2, the SP is after a 21-year-old rapist and murder in the town of Kota. The movie is inspired by true events. The movie was released in December and opened to good response domestically and internationally. Critics said that the performances and gripping narrative are equally convincing. The thriller doesn't lose its relevance or dilute the importance of the social issue that is the unsafe environment for Indian women.
The Malayalam film industry has a way of churning out great films one after one. And actress Parvathy Thiruvothu is one of the best actresses industry has ever seen. Uyare is the culmination of both. Manu Ashokan marked his directorial debut with a movie that will always find a place in the list of 'best films'. Uyare is the story of an acid attack survivor. It touches the themes of toxic relationships, ambition, and survival. The film was a commercial success domestically and internationally. It was the best opener and second best-grossing film in UAE, ranking right behind Avengers: Endgame.
Game Over is a psychological thriller starring Taapsee Pannu. It was filmed and released simultaneously in Tamil, Telugu, and Hindi. Pannu plays a wheelchair-bound woman fighting for her life with a mysterious murderer. The whole movie revolves around her with the help of her housemaid defends her home from a serial killer. The movie deals with PTSD and finding solace too. The movie received positive reviews from critics and audience.
Helen is a Malayalam language film from another debut director Mathukutty Xavier. Anna Ben does a wonderful job in her second movie as a kind girl trapped in a meat freezer. The survival thriller was inspired by a true incident. Anna’s character is saved by her own kind heart at the end as the security guard thinks she might still be inside while police and her father are searching the city for her. The guard’s suspicion comes from the fact that Helen is the only one greets him at the end of the day but she hasn’t that day.
Airaa is a Tamil horror film starring Nayanthara. The lady superstar is playing a dual role for the second time in this movie. It was one of the most successful films of the year. Nayanthara is one of the most successful actors in the South Indian film industry. She has had many hits like Maya, Aramm, Kolamavu Kokila, and Kolaiyuthir Kaalam in recent years.
Oh! Baby was hailed as one of the most successful Telugu films of the year. The fantasy comedy film starring Samantha Akkineni. It is the remake of a South Koran classic film Miss Granny. It received positive reviews from critics as well. Many called it “Samantha’s career-best performance”.
The Marathi biographical drama was based on the life of Anadndibai Gopalrao Joshi, India's first female physician. She was the first woman to India to graduate with a two-year degree in western medicine in the United States. Despite being from a family of landlords, she was married off at the age of nine due to financial loss at home. However, her husband was a progressive thinker who supported the idea of educated women. The movie was hailed as one of the best Indian feminist films.