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A still from Thappad

Spotlighting some big-ticket Bollywood films in which women will call the shots

From Thappad to Dhaakad, the future is female!

By Priyanka Roy
  • Published 25.02.20, 8:06 PM
  • Updated 25.02.20, 8:06 PM
  • 8 mins read
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Film poster
Photo Credit: Film poster
Thappad

1. Thappad

Release date: February 28

Taapsee Pannu is Bolly’s go-to girl for roles that demand grit and guts. Having frontlined many a film that’s called out everything from male privilege to social malpractices, Taapsee is all set to deliver a slap on the faces of those who turn a blind eye to physically abusive relationships in Friday film Thappad. The 32-year-old actress — whose predilection for socially conscious cinema started with her hard-hitting turn in the 2016 film Pink — joins hands once more with her Mulk director Anubhav Sinha (who is credited as ‘Anubhav Sushila Sinha’, after his mother, in this film) to uncover some uncomfortable truths and question how and why our society largely tends to normalise domestic abuse. The winner of a trailer — that sees Taapsee being aided by strong supporting acts from female powerhouse actors like Ratna Pathak Shah, Tanvi Azmi and Geetika Vidya Ohlyan — illustrates that this is a shero story, “inspired by you and her”, that’s waiting to be told. More than anything else, it’s a slap on misogyny and everyone who terms abuse as an “expression of love”. Yes Kabir Singh, we are looking at you. 

Film poster
Photo Credit: Film poster
Gunjan Saxena

2. Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl

Release date: April 24

The courage of braveheart Gunjan Saxena — the first Indian woman, along with her comrade Srividya Rajan, to go into combat — will be brought alive on screen in April 24 film Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl. Slipping into the uniform of the ace fighter pilot — who flew her plane into combat zone during the 1999 Kargil War — will be Janhvi Kapoor. The first look of the Sharan Sharma film, that will show a woman breaking into a male-dominated bastion, has grabbed eyeballs, with Janhvi’s look in uniform being praised. “Ladkiyan pilot nahin banti” is what real-life shero Gunjan — who was subsequently awarded the Shaurya Chakra for her bravery — was told when she expressed a desire to join the armed forces. Janhvi’s ability to pull off the role may be on unsure ground, but something tells us that Gunjan Saxena will be well worth our time and money. 

Film poster
Photo Credit: Film poster
Shakuntala Devi

3. Shakuntala Devi

Release date: May 8

Vidya Balan will play real-life math genius Shakuntala Devi in the eponymously titled film that releases in May. Vidya — whose quirky first look as the “human computer” has already piqued interest — is perhaps the best candidate for the part, given that she’s shouldered many a shero story — Kahaani to The Dirty Picture — and made a success of it. Dangal girl Sanya Malhotra plays the other important role in the film, stepping into the shoes of Anupama Banerji, Shakuntala Devi’s daughter. What’s even more significant? Anu Menon directs the film. Yes, women telling women stories. Bollywood sorely needs more.  

Sourced by The Telegraph
Photo Credit: Sourced by The Telegraph
Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare

4. Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare

Release date: Not announced yet

Talking of women telling women stories, Alankrita Shrivastava — who made the breakout she-film Lipstick Under My Burkha three years ago — is directing Konkona Sensharma and Bhumi Pednekar in the intriguingly titled Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare. The film that premiered at the Busan International Film Festival last October to praise, has Konkona and Bhumi playing cousins who nurse a secret between them. The clutter-breaking first look of the film — showing the two powerhouse performers as rebels and yet trapped in cages — is interesting. “I enjoy telling stories about complex female characters. I like exploring their interior worlds,” is what Alankrita had told The Telegraph. Looks like Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare will be yet another vintage Alankrita outing.

Sourced by The Telegraph
Photo Credit: Sourced by The Telegraph
The Girl on the Train

5. The Girl on the Train

Release date: May 8

The 2016 Hollywood film of the same name — with the drama revolving primarily around Emily Blunt’s actions and reactions — gets its official Bollywood remake, with Parineeti Chopra playing the protagonist. The Girl on the Train — which will, in all likelihood, be renamed ‘Mira’ after the character Parineeti plays in the film — follows the template of the original, fashioning a thriller set and shot in the UK and shows the protagonist as an unemployed and alcoholic divorcee who witnesses a murder while on a train ride. Calcutta Boy Ribhu Dasgupta directs the May film that has she-power in the form of Aditi Rao Hydari and Kirti Kulhari playing pivotal roles. 

Film poster
Photo Credit: Film poster
Thalaivi

6. Thalaivi

Release date: June 26

Kangana Ranaut, who mostly features in films where she gets top billing over her male co-stars, will play J. Jayalalithaa in Thalaivi. Kangana, who has slapped on some complex prosthetics, looks uncannily similar to Jayalalithaa in the film’s first-look posters (which refer to the late actress-turned-politician as a “revolutionary hero”), but a teaser released three months ago — in which Kangana breaks into some pretty bizarre dance moves as the actress Jayalalithaa — has met with mixed reactions.  

Sourced by The Telegraph
Photo Credit: Sourced by The Telegraph
Gangubai Kathiawadi

7. Gangubai Kathiawadi

Release date: September 11

Alia Bhatt’s dream of working with auteur Sanjay Leela Bhansali went up in smoke after Inshallah was shelved, following differences between Bhansali and the film’s leading man Salman Khan. But looks like the AB-SLB partnership was set for bigger things, with the filmmaker quickly signing on the spunky actress to be the face of his film Gangubai Kathiawadi. The film, based on S. Hussain Zaidi’s book Mafia Queens of Mumbai, has Alia playing Gangubai Kothewali, a young girl sold into prostitution who becomes the madam of a brothel in Mumbai’s Kamathipura. The film will focus on the rise of the character and also the fact that she championed the rights of sex workers and strived hard to improve the living conditions at Kamathipura. Alia’s looks from the film — we love the black-and-white frame — make us want to book our tickets. Right now!

Sourced by The Telegraph
Photo Credit: Sourced by The Telegraph
Dhaakad

8. Dhaakad

Release date: Diwali

In August last year, a 45-second teaser of Dhaakad was dropped without much fanfare on the web. This was preceded by a poster in July, with Kangana reportedly playing a spy in this action film. But her walk and talk as well as the tone and tenor of the teaser screamed ‘Lara Croft’, the video-game character made famous on the Holly screen by Angelina Jolie. “The film is mounted on a large scale and is a one-of-a-kind female-led action film, and is apt for a Diwali release. If it is received well, there will be no looking back for women in Indian cinema,” is what Kangana had said in an interview after the release of the poster. Since then, not much has been heard about Dhaakad, though the film hasn’t budged from its promise of a Diwali release. 

Film poster
Photo Credit: Film poster
Shabaash Mithu

9. Shabaash Mithu

Release date: February 5, 2021

The rise and rise of Mithali Raj — the skipper of the Indian women’s cricket team in ODIs and Tests — will be captured in Shabaash Mithu, with Taapsee Pannu as the ace cricketer. Taapsee’s look as Mithali — who has quite a few international records to her credit, including the highest number of runs — is spot-on, with the actress acing the attitude needed to play the part. “I have always been asked who’s your favourite male cricketer, but you should ask them who their favourite female cricketer is,” is what Taapsee wrote on social media before sharing the poster, hitting home with her words. Raees man Rahul Dholakia directs the February 2021 film. 

Sourced by The Telegraph
Photo Credit: Sourced by The Telegraph
Jhulan Goswami biopic

10. Jhulan Goswami biopic

Release date: Not announced yet

Bringing the life and times of yet another cricketer to the big screen — this time ‘Chakdah Express’ Jhulan Goswami — will be Anushka Sharma. While no formal announcement has been made about the film yet (Anushka doubles as producer here), the actress’s appearance in Team India blues at Eden Gardens, Jhulan for company, on a January evening, to shoot a promotional for the film, has almost made it certain that she is on to play the part. The film will reportedly be helmed by Calcutta boy Prosit Roy, who had directed Anushka earlier in the horror film Pari. Anushka is known to do in-depth research for her parts. For this film, she doesn’t have to look far… who can be better to take tips from than husband Virat Kohli?

Sourced by The Telegraph
Photo Credit: Sourced by The Telegraph
Durgavati

11. Durgavati

Release date: Not announced yet

“I am very nervous because the responsibility of the film is completely on my shoulders. But I take pride in the fact that it’s a killer script and the character is fantastic. There is so much that I will be able to do in the film and I am very excited,” is what Bhumi Pednekar had told The Telegraph about Durgavati, the first film in which the actress plays a “hero”. Yes, that’s what the film’s announcement poster — which has Akshay Kumar as “presenter” and who also features in a cameo — proclaims loud and clear. G. Ashok remakes his own 2018 film Bhaagamathie, with Bhumi playing a firebrand IAS officer, a role essayed by Anushka Shetty in the original. 

Sourced by The Telegraph
Photo Credit: Sourced by The Telegraph
Rashmi Rocket

12. Rashmi Rocket

Release date: Not announced yet

The will and power of a Kutch-based sprinter will be brought to life by Taapsee — yet again — in Rashmi Rocket. The character that Taapsee has described as “headstrong and fearless”, somewhat completes the actress’s trilogy of sport-based films after Saand Ki Aankh and Shabaash Mithu. Taapsee looks fierce and fiery in the film’s promotional poster and seems to have the body language of an athlete just right. Rashmi Rocket, directed by Karwaan maker Akarsh Khurana, hasn’t gone on the floors yet, with Taapsee reportedly scheduled to go in for a drastic physical transformation to play the part. 

Sourced by The Telegraph
Photo Credit: Sourced by The Telegraph
Tejas

13. Tejas

Release date: April 2021

Kangana Ranaut will don the uniform of a fighter pilot in Tejas that will be directed by Sarvesh Mewara and produced by Ronnie Screwvala. Kangana’s look from the film — helmet in hand and sporting sunglasses — is powerful, with the producers reiterating that the inspiration for the film is the fact that the Indian Air Force was the first of the country’s defence forces to induct women into combat roles. “Very often the sacrifices made by our brave women in uniform go unnoticed by the nation. Tejas is a film where I have the honour of playing the role of one such Air Force pilot that puts country before self,” is what Kangana has said about the April 2021 film. 

Sourced by The Telegraph
Photo Credit: Sourced by The Telegraph
Saina

14. Saina

Release date: Not announced yet

Announced quite a while ago, this biopic on the life and career of badminton champ Saina Nehwal has seen a change of hands, with Parineeti Chopra taking over the racquet from Shraddha Kapoor after the latter walked out of the film, even after filming portions of it. Parineeti has trained hard for the film, including some lessons under the tutelage of Saina in Hyderabad, but the Amole Gupte film is yet to go on the floors with Parineeti as the lead.

Which of these films is on your must-watch list? Tell t2@abp.in

Sourced by The Telegraph
Photo Credit: Sourced by The Telegraph
Black Widow

This is perhaps a rare year in which as many as three superhero films in Hollywood will be frontlined by women. And they are all directed by women!

1. Black Widow

Release date: April 30

Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow gets her first independent film in 2020, even though the idea has been bubbling under since 2004. Scarlett Johansson slips on the suit to play the superhero in the aftermath of the events of the 2016 film Captain America: Civil War and in which Natasha is compelled to confront her past. What’s significant is that the film is being helmed by a woman director, Cate Shortland, who said that what drew her to the shero story was the fact that, ‘She’s got so many secrets, she’s got so much vulnerability and I think that’s what makes her such a great heroine’. 

2. Wonder Woman 1984

Release date: June 5

Women have slowly but surely emerged as top draws at the Hollywood box office and who better to illustrate that than Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins? The duo’s first outing together — the 2017 film Wonder Woman — was one of the biggest blockbusters of that year and now the two are all set to take the franchise further in Wonder Woman 1984. The film, which is in a way a tribute to the ’80s, has Gadot kicking ass once again as the female superhero that we have all grown to love. Can’t wait! 

3. The Eternals

Release date: November 6

Angelina Jolie will appear in her first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in this superhero saga that’s being directed by Chloe Zhao. Jolie plays the fierce Eternal called Thena who leads her band in a fight to protect humanity against the Deviants. The film has a strong ensemble cast — Richard Madden to Kit Harington — but promises to be a Jolie show all the way.