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Women’s Day special: 13 most powerful women characters portrayed in Bollywood

While women-centric films that are really about women is only a trend that came into being only a few years ago, there have seen some extremely strong female characters over the decades.

bollywood Updated: Jun 09, 2017 14:44 IST
HT Correspondent
From Kangana Ranaut in Queen to Sridevi in English Vinglish and Waheeda Ehman in Guide, here’s a look at some of the strongest female characters from Bollywood.
From Kangana Ranaut in Queen to Sridevi in English Vinglish and Waheeda Ehman in Guide, here’s a look at some of the strongest female characters from Bollywood.

Cinema, much like our society, has been traditionally biased in favour of men. Be it screen space or payment, women have always been treated as the lesser gender. However, fighting all odds, there have been instances where women proved their worth and demanded equal treatment.

While women-centric films that are really about women is only a trend that came into being only a few years ago, there have seen some extremely strong female characters over the decades.

From Anushka Sharma in NH10 to Nargis in Mother India, here’s a look at some of the strongest female characters from Bollywood:

Anushka Sharma in NH10

Anushka’s first production venture, NH10 portrayed her as the woman who commands her right in her relationship, protects herself and even fights for her own good.

Rani Mukherjee in Mardaani

In this movie, Rani plays a a typical self-righteous inspector from Bollywood that happens to be a woman. All her traits - from strength to commanding nature are irrespective of her gender..

Sridevi in English Vinglish

This film not only marked Sridevi’s return to silver screen, it also brought a fresh wave of light-hearted cinema that was emotionally inspiring - Sridevi’s character, Shashi, plays a housewife in a judgemental family and decides to earn some respect. Not only does she succeed in that, she also reiterates that she gets to choose what she wants to do.

Taapsee Pannu in Pink

Amitabh Bachchan played a major role in Pink but Taapse and her gang of girls play extremely confident and strong women who are ready to go to any limit in order to get justice.

Vidya Balan in Kahaani

Vidya plays a character who is pregnant and has come to India in search of her husband but the movie ends with her bravery and how she turns into this strong woman is an incredible show.

Kangana Raut in Queen

Kangana plays a simple innocent girl who turns into a liberated woman, decides not to wallow in self pity after her boyfriend ditches her, and travels places on her own.

Madhuri Dixit in Gulab Gang

In Gulaab Gang, Madhuri plays a very vital role of a village woman who fights against domestic violence and dowry system.

Alia Bhat in Highway

Alia plays a character who stands up against all the abuses she faces in her life and how she finds the way to come out of it and tell the truth.

Madhuri Dixit in Lajja

Madhuri Dixt portrayed a powerful character as Janaki in Lajja who fights with herself and finally finds the courage to speak against her own beloved, for the sake of her self-respect.

Tabu in Astitva

Tabu played a housewife who finds that her husband and son judge her hobbies and decides to step out of the domestic bondages and start afresh.

Shabana Azmi in Arth

Shabana plays a housewife who is betrayed by a cheating husband. Fighting with depression and much more, she manages to find the strength and courage to not only move on but also “forgive and let go” of the husband.

Waheeda Rehman in Guide


Dev Anand’s Guide is certainly one of the most beautiful Hindi films on women. Waheeda’s character faces all odds but fights her way to do what she loves - dance.

Nargis in Mother India

A list of strong women roles would be incomplete without Nargis’s Mother India. Defying the norms of society and Bollywood rules, she played a mother who was not willing to compromise on her principles. In fact, she kills her own son after he becomes a dacoit.

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