My View: The Ladies of Bollywood Have Never Seemed as Confident as They Did in 2016


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not in any way reflect the views of the organisation.

It is no secret that the newest Global Ambassador for the UN, Priyanka Chopra, has been everywhere in 2016. Coming off a triumphant phase in her career, Priyanka has never been more at home or more confident about her success. But there’s a moment during one of her interviews (this time with international talk-show host, Ellen Degeneres), that completely communicates her metamorphosis. After exchanging goofy pleasantries, Ellen Degeneres points out that Hollywood basically gave Priyanka the ultimate red carpet treatment inundating her with some of the most plum offers the industry had to offer. It was a compliment. In situations like these, celebrities usually deflect the compliments with a well practiced magnanimous smile or self-deprecating jokes. But not Priyanka. She paused for a beat. And then went, “That’s…I mean…kind of…what happened.” And then she burst out laughing.

Unapologetic. Confident. Real. And shall we say it? Daring.

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Photo source: Flickr

But Priyanka is not alone. She just happens to be one of a growing number of Bollywood leading ladies who are unrepentant about being who they are and claiming what they want.

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2016 was the year Kareena Kapoor decided to school an entire nation on what a pregnant woman can and cannot accomplish by refusing to stand down during her pregnancy. She caustically remarked to The Hindustan Times, “I’m pregnant, not a corpse…It’s the most normal thing on earth to produce a child…Stop making it a national casualty.”

Proving her point, she starred in big budget films; walked the ramp at one of the biggest fashion shows in India, appeared in print and television campaigns…all the while gloriously embracing her pregnancy.

Photo source: Wikimedia

2016 was the year when Alia Bhatt stunned the audiences with her prodigious talent and her sartorial choices that placed her in a league well above all of her peers (male and female). We barely had time to recover from her tour de force performance as a Bihari immigrant in Udta Punjab, when she did a complete 180 with her role as a career woman in Dear Zindagi and stole the movie right from under Shahrukh Khan’s nose. In the midst of all the plaudits heaped on her, she took the time to stand up against slut shaming.

“The reason actresses don’t talk about their private lives is because in our society there is a lot of slut-shaming. Eventually, I have a responsibility and I have to protect myself.”

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Photo source: Wikimedia

2016 was the year Sonam Kapoor boldly lashed out at the sexism prevalent in Bollywood, calling it “disgusting”. Despite delivering the critically acclaimed and box-office hit, Neerja (where she played the titular character), she found it difficult to scrounge adequate funds for her upcoming film starring Kareena Kapoor – Veere Di Wedding.

Not one to mince words, she said, “The kind of money John Abraham and Varun Dhawan got to make off Dishoom is way more than what Kareena and I are getting to make Veere Di Wedding. I do think Kareena and I could open a film as big as them.”

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Photo source: Facebook 

2016 was the year a lot of leading ladies of Bollywood simply shrugged away the veneer of perfection. At times they boldly displayed unadulterated ambition. At times they were vulnerable about their own failures. They raised their voices. They stood up for themselves. They owned their success. But most importantly, they embraced authenticity over manufactured gloss. Deepika Padukone laughed all the way to the bank by pocketing Rs 12 crore for her upcoming film;  Ileana D’Cruz admitted that she had been treated for body dysmorphia, anxiety and depression; Kangana Ranaut coolly ignored all her haters who called her a witch as she went on to win yet another National Award for acting.

The concept that Bollywood celebrities have to be happy, shiny objects was replaced by the idea that they are human. And the women led the charge in making that happen.

Yes. That’s…kind of…what happened.

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