Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi’s Happy isn’t the only self-willed girl in Bollywood
Sonakshi Sinha’s upcoming film, Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi, is up for release. The film is a sequel of the sleeper hit, Happy Bhag Jayegi, with Diana Penty in the lead. The delightful film had a Punjabi girl who runs away from her marriage only to land up in Pakistan. Her fiancé, the police of Pakistan and sundry other people are after her and a comedy of errors follows. Happy is a funny person—she obviously has a distinct comic streak to her and is often oblivious of it herself. She often finds herself in untenable situations but invariably wriggles out of them.
However, is Happy a singular character in planet Bollywood? Not quite. In the recent past, there have a handful of quirky female characters, who have the spunk, the audacity, the humanity, the vulnerability and the strength in equal measure to make our day. A clear example is Tanuja Trivedi (Tanu) from the Tanu Weds Manu series. The girl is blessed with such madness and oddities that simply beholding her is likely to make you smile. Then her eccentricities will keep you hooked. She does everything that good girls from good families aren’t expected to do in a largely conservative India—she drinks and smokes (more for the kicks), has boyfriends (may have even had a history), is nearly always at loggerheads with daddy dear while her extended family is almost always aghast at her free-spirited nature.
Coming to women with a mind of their own, Geet from Imtiaz Ali’s Jab We Met is another sparkling example. As a vivacious girl who refuses to bow down to what the society and her family expects her to do, Geet believes in following her heart.
Meenamma Alagasunsaram from Chennai Express is yet another such character. Deepika’s character makes one laugh from the word go. She is running away from a loving but domineering father, a local don at that. She too has her own prince in shining armour but funnily, for the most part, she’s the one doing the rescue! It is this that makes her independent, in command of her world and a wonderful watch. She too has her moments of weaknesses but for most parts, she charms us with her spunk.
If you thought that these qualities come packaged in a certain type—usually nubile, privileged and moneyed--then it is time you gave it a slight shake. For a definite departure from the norm is Vidya Balan’s Tumhari Sulu. Sulu is a middle-aged woman, mother of a 11-year old and from a middle class background. Yet, nothing stops her from giving wings to her ambitions. A housewife by the day who fills her time winning pressure cookers in radio shows, she transforms into a late night RJ whose show caters to a largely male audience. Sulu embraces her job with the gusto of a newbie and emerges a hit, of course. She is not in the least apologetic and even ambitious.
Many moons back, Yashraj Films came out with a charming film called Bunty Aur Babli, where Rani Mukerji’s Babli was a precursor to such characters. Babli is a regular small town girl, with big dreams in her eyes but little opportunity. She wants to be a model, Miss India to be precise, and studies models astutely. Faced by parents unwilling to support her fanciful ideas, she runs away from home! Mercifully, she meets another ‘loser’ Bunty, also on the run from an uneventful ‘railway ki naukri’ to explore the world beyond. Mercifully, despite all the twists and turns, life comes a full circle for them.
There are other notable mention into this growing list of free-willed women but they may not be as comic—Farah from Dil Dhadakne Do will impress you with her will, Laila in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara will live her life on her own terms and even help a guy discover himself while at it.
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