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 .