They say good girls go to heaven and bad girls go everywhere. When it comes to women playing Badass characters , they literally go beyond what we have seen or imagined and isn’t that just what we love about our movies?

The interesting thing about portrayal of women characters is that they are always reeking of stereotypes  , which isn’t a bad thing at all . In fact it makes perfect sense because most of these are written by men . When men write or direct women onscreen they represent a point of view that’s an end product of years of conditioning . These are projections of women they either know [ their mothers , aunts , neighbors] or idealize [ too perfect to exist].

That’s why traditionally the idea of a liberated women who broke barriers and stood out for their ‘ free thinking ‘ approach was synonymous with that of a vamp. Motives separate a hero from a villain or even an anti – hero , but character or values separates a heroine from a vamp .

As years passed , women who smoke , drank or socialized freely with men ,  pursued them , danced with gay abandon , wore revealing clothes or were driven by desires of wealth / love are now finding acceptance as a part of the core narrative . This gave birth to the idea of a badass woman – the track that I am exploring today . Badass women in cinema for the purpose of this post are unapologetic and relentless when it comes to their views and their wants .

Now to say , Phoolan [Bandit Queen] based on the true story of a wronged and abused low caste woman who became a dacoit was a badass – is an understatement . But that’s an extreme and my series isn’t about exceptions , it’s about everyday people. So I feel a Bilquis or Bobby [Bobby Jasoos] was a badass who didn’t need accessories to build her character of a ‘wannabe detective’ belonging to a conservative muslim family . Laila [ Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara] on the surface seems like a typical ‘take her home to meet mom’ girl – but she’s chilled out yet sorted all at once. She changes the course of her life every three months , as she jumps continents and interests – from a Scuba Instructor to an art student. When she goes on to give lessons on leading life when she says she hasn’t learnt to regret – that’s badass goals for you right there.

My first memory of a Badass woman onscreen is of Damini [ Damini] . She brings to justice her own brother-in-law and his friends when they assault their house help and try to get away with it because they are wealthy . She goes up against every one including her husband and the seeds of ‘activism’ in mainstream cinema was sown.

But one doesn’t need to be an activist to be involved in change , Meera [ NH10] didn’t want to get involved in what appeared as a family matter when a random stranger accost her at a roadside dhaba during a road trip . But as matters spiraled out of control in what turned out an honour killing that her husband tried to save two young lovers from , but was killed instead.  When took to the steering wheel with a chilling look of pure murderous intent , a corporate junkie transformed into a revenge seeker . I am yet to see a badass portrayal as that in such subtle coldness in recent times.

To share a secret with you , my original idea was to cover Badass women as a standalone theme because a tiny post does no justice to some incredible characters that have come alive and become iconic in contemporary movies our generation had the good privilege to witness .  This is one thread that you’ll see running all through my posts . What a time to be alive !

I am collaborating with Jaibala Rao who is blogging about iconic movies of our generation here . Click here to Join me in my #AtoZChallenge journey this april as I explore women representation in contemporary movies. If you are participating in AtoZ too , do leave your link and I’d try my best to drop by .

 

[B] Badass Women Rule the World #AtoZChallenge Day 2
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21 thoughts on “[B] Badass Women Rule the World #AtoZChallenge Day 2

  • April 3, 2017 at 6:18 am
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    I haven’t seen a lot of these recent films but I do remember Damini. It was unforgettable. I love what you said about intent and character defining men and women. That’s a smart observation.
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  • April 3, 2017 at 8:49 am
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    I hate the way vamps and heroines used to be characterised in Indian Cinema. I believe motivations rather than actions should be the differentiators between Black, White and Grey in movies. I loved the characters you mentioned Damini, Meera and Bilquis. Though it is changing today there is still a conditioned bias toward badass women in Cinema.

    PS: And what is the chance that we both reference Bandit Queen today
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  • April 3, 2017 at 11:48 am
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    Badass women are a force to reckon with. What we see on screen often gets ingrained into our psyche and ultimately creeps into society. The fewer movies we see with these adarsh, sanskari good woman type characters, the better it would be
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  • April 3, 2017 at 12:43 pm
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    Lovely portrayal of badass women. In fact in today’s world, I would personally prefer a “so-called” badass woman who takes her stand & has her independent opinion which should be respected.

    Looking forward to reading more from you!!

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  • April 3, 2017 at 12:56 pm
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    I’ll confess I have contrasting feelings about the badass woman character in all its manifestations. Of course I appreciate the idea, but sometimes trying to prove the point goes a bit too far with the author of the story, pushing the character outside of reality. And I generally don’t like female characters who just act like men.
    There are a lot of these around, especially today.

    But I see your examples are of the quality kind. There’s a strength in women, a kind of strength that might be very different from the strength of a man. I love it when authors expose that 😉
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  • April 3, 2017 at 2:49 pm
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    “Motives separate a hero from a villain or even an anti – hero , but character or values separates a heroine from a vamp”

    This is so true…. the best line in the post! Am loving the partnership you and Jai have going on…. 🙂

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  • April 3, 2017 at 4:41 pm
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    While I don’t know if times have changed now, my foray with badass women was that they generally were the mistresses/vamps {except maybe Damini} and never really a lead character. Enjoyed your post about it though 🙂
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  • April 3, 2017 at 5:19 pm
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    I felt like some oldie from another century as I read your post. Time for me to create a new ‘Movies to Watch’ note on Evernote, and let that take precedence over my books to read list 😀

    If you will allow me to digress, Alaska in the book Looking for Alaska is quite a badass character. And yet, the way John Green portrays her emotional vulnerability in the end is so brilliant!

    Yes yes, I’ll watch the movies that you mentioned above, so that I don’t end up sounding like a book-snob everytime I talk 😛
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  • April 3, 2017 at 5:26 pm
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    I felt Damini – for all the awards it won – was still grossly underrated. Simple because it was unique in that 90s era. It took a very serious topic, it dealt with the issues from both points of view… A young bride struggling to maintain her integrity when the law and her new family is against her. And in a rare instance, it even gave Rishi Kapoor a role which required some acting chops, as the guy stuck between saving his family and caring for his new wife whose truth could destroy the family.

    Sadly, after that, the 90s went back to churning out Raja Babu style movies that undid a lot of potentially good female roles.
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  • April 3, 2017 at 6:16 pm
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    And why haven’t I seen Damini yet? 🙁 You and Jaibala are giving me some serious movie goals with this theme.
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  • April 3, 2017 at 6:36 pm
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    I’ve always admired movies with strong women protagonists for the simple reason that they show exactly what women are capable of. It’s good to see the emergence of these narratives in mainstream cinema whereas earlier they were relegated to Art films. In regional films like Tamil ones which I watch, there are some equally powerful roles essayed by actresses like Revathi. You should catch ‘Magalir Mattum’ with subtitles and ‘Mouna Ragam’ too. Moving and inspiring.
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  • April 3, 2017 at 6:38 pm
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    I know the story of Damini, and she was badass! To stad up for yourself= is badass to me!

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  • April 3, 2017 at 6:44 pm
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    While I was reading your post, I was wondering why Damini or Meera were badasses? Actually, you are right – in the eyes of the society they were but to me and you – they started the wave of you will get what you deserve. Pretty good one for B, Chandni!
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  • April 3, 2017 at 8:14 pm
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    I loved Meera in NH10. It displayed so much change in a person over the course of events! Damini I haven’t seen, I liked Laila’s character in ZNMD!

    Cheers
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  • April 3, 2017 at 8:28 pm
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    What a thoughtful post. Interestingly, it applies to American cinema as well. Women seem to be viewed through the same lens, no matter where in the world.

    I wonder if I could get some of the movies you listed here…

    Love your take on A to Z!

    B is About Build-Up

    Isa-Lee Wolf
    A Bit 2 Read
    @IsaLeeWolf

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  • April 3, 2017 at 11:23 pm
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    I think we need more badass women script writers who can throw caution to the wind and really write… A woman who would be remembered always

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