As we celebrate Women’s History Month, let’s pay homage to some strong women in movies who have inspired us through the silver screen. We’re commemorating 7 female movie characters that have made an impact through entertainment.
She’s Enola before Sherlock’s sister.
Millie Bobby Brown plays the lead character, Enola Holmes, of the Netflix movie ‘Enola Homes’. The actress also produced the film and did all her own stunts in it; it’s not just the character that’s inspiring but also the actress that played the character.
Enola makes a brilliant role model for young girls and boys as she shatters gender stereotypes all through the film. She completely disregards the notion that certain behaviours are assigned for girls while others are assigned for boys and elaborates the inanity of sexist norms when she’s older. While she is wonderfully rebellious, Enola is a light-hearted person who enjoys everything she chooses to educate herself about, indulge herself in. Her acceptance and reciprocation of love don’t prevent her from exploring her enjoying her newly found freedom and flourishing her curiosities. She bears witness that while redefining social norms is a consequential task, it doesn’t automatically make someone bitter and that change is not only something that we fight for but something that we live through.
The big-hearted maid, teacher, writer, and heroine.
Aibileen Clark, played by actress Viola Davis, is one of the prominent characters of the film adaptation of the book ‘The Help’. An insufficient description of her character would detail a black maid who’s raised or helped raise seventeen white babies, ever since she first welded this line of work as a teen, to help her family meet ends. Still and all, that perception reorients once we get through the entire movie. From a maid to a writer.
Aibileen, in her own way, counters racism as she taught the children that she raised that the colour of the skin doesn’t matter, what does is love and kindness. She again addresses racism, this time, along with sexism, as she writes a book with a young white journalist, Skeeter, her best friend Minny, and other maids; writing was a male-dominated occupation at the time. She’s also seen to reject the importance of ‘looking cute’ and teach self-love as she cares for Mae Mobley, a chubby toddler with a bald spot who is despised and neglected by her mother. All these distinctions that make Aibileen an inspiration, are conveyed through a slow and painful process in the movie; Aibileen is still recovering from the untimely death of her son. This again solidifies the strength of a woman who’s using every bit of her goodness, courage and talents to seize independence.
A complicated woman, worthless in her own definition, guided by her strong moral compass.
Rachel Watson, played by actress Emily Blunt in the movie ‘The Girl on The Train’, is a depressed, barren, soon-to-be homeless and alcoholic divorcee. The movie shows the relentlessness of a woman, desperate for a livelihood where she matters to others, finding purpose in puzzling out the disappearance of Megan Hipwell. Rachel often comes off as someone unlikeable and unreliable because she’s obsessive, impulsive, and when drunk, also self-destructive. And that’s what we love about her character, the rawness of human flaws, the veracity of how human emotions are affected by unfair, unfortunate events.
Rachel may have initially been a hot mess, but that’s because she’s an intense lover who’s been cheated on and deprived of her dream of living a happy suburban family life with Tom due to infertility. Rachel has made it to our list of strong women in movies because, despite everything that is wrong with her life, she survived. She lived through everything that briefly broke her and still somehow managed to have the persistence to get to the root of a full-fledged crime scene. All in all, Rachel Watson faces uncomfortable truths and grows a lot throughout the movie. Despite several withdrawals, she does eventually stop drinking; she also evaluates her behaviour and starts to put her life back together bit by bit.
The not purely evil anti-hero.
The movie ‘Maleficent’ is based on the untold story of an iconic villain, Maleficent, of the classic Sleeping Beauty. The character, played by Angelina Jolie, has all the sass that we live for; she goes as far as to tell her ex, the king, to shut up and beg to her in a castle full of subjects! She does what many of us would do if our boyfriend cut off our wings to advance his career.
Maleficent was pure-hearted like any other typical fairy; kind, affectionate, and a sincere protector of her kingdom. Unfortunately, Maleficent’s heart closes up and she becomes vengeful as her true love betrays her. Her wrath is outpours on her ex’s newborn, Aurora, and she curses the child to death before the sun sets on Aurora’s sixteenth birthday. Maleficent’s closed heart is reopened by the cursed child herself, as Maleficent tries to make sure that Aurora lives until the curse pans out; an unexpected turn of events. The movie brilliantly picturises that no one is purely evil or purely good. Like any of us, Maleficent has a few dark facets but she redeems herself towards the end of the movie. Maleficent not only grows to care for Aurora but even matures maternal love for her that lifts her curse; she redefines love and what a true loves kiss means.
She isn’t perfect, but she’s delightful and growing.
‘Queen’, even though not faultless, is one the least problematic Bollywood films out there; it even passed the Bechdel test! Starred by a fearless, vocal, and opinionated actress, Kangana Ranaut as Rani, ‘Queen’ is a no drama, no action film but an absolute delight nevertheless.
Rani’s fiancé leaves her days before the wedding, but that doesn’t stop Rani from going on their honeymoon, alone. The film elaborates on her holiday that paves her way of self-discovery and growth, and she has a great time! She really breaks free out of her shell and enjoys to the fullest; her whole trip is an elaborate me-time. Despite her experience with her fiancé, Rani does not have a victim mentality. She is just a weird, fiery, crazy girl who’s full of spirit! Her character proclaims that a broken engagement is not the end of the world and that it doesn’t have to be devastating or ominous; something not often seen in Bollywood films. She takes her audience in her journey of self-exploration that’s airy and pleasant.
She’s you and she inspires you.
Shashi, a homemaker with a homerun business of making and selling laddoos, is the lead character of the Hindi film, ‘English Vinglish’. The role is played is by Hawa Hawai, Sridevi. Her daughter and husband, taunt and neglect Shashi because of her poor English. She is a relatable character, essentially for mothers, but what sets her apart from other homemakers is her problem-solving mindset. No wonder she’s on our list of strong women in movies!
Shashi flies to New York to attend her niece’s wedding, where she decides to do something about her English; this was less to earn the respect for herself and more to spare her husband and children of embarrassment. She could’ve decided to throw a tantrum, protest against the disrespect that came her way or lose herself in sadness. But instead, she enrols herself on an English class. Shashi even subtly calls out the obsession that many Indians have with English as she learns English for its utility; not for the respect that will, unexplainably but, naturally come along with the skill. There’s a lot more that the audience can learn from Shashi’s experience. Despite being a victim of society’s hypocrisy towards housewives, Shashi returns to India as a self-assured woman; she is happy with who she is.
A liberated Kolkata woman.
Arati is the last character on our list of strong women in movies. Arati, played by Madhabi Mukherjee, is the main female protagonist of Satyajit Ray’s film ‘Mahanagar’. The film deals with the contemporary economic, political, and social issues of the 1960s. Arati is a housewife who takes up a job as a door-to-door salesperson to provide financial support to her struggling family.
Her transformation from a stay-at-home housewife to a working woman leaves is a shock for Arati’s in-laws. Subrata, Arati’s husband, is left insecure as Arati prospers in her job. Despite the tension within her family, Arati doesn’t allow herself to be taken for granted. Arati carries on with her job that facilitates financial independence and social recognition; the sense of achievement fulfils her. She even stands up against the unfair termination of her colleague! Subrata gradually grows respect for Arati; her moral courage inspires him. The film, altogether, stays relevant to this date as it delineates perpetual work-life conflicts.
HAPPY WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH Y’ALL! I hope you have fun exploring these strong women in movies that I find so inspiring!