This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
Vidya Balan as a lady detective in Bobby Jasoos is a rare example of a woman protagonist in a male domain. There are other films that have shown female protagonists assuming professional roles in male-dominated areas of work activity. Here's tilting the topi to the gender-challenging lady professionals.
1. Chak De: Before Shimit Amin's film about an out-of-favour hockey coach training a motley team of female hockey players hardly anyone knew that women played hockey, let alone that a women's hockey team existed. The film brought out the contradictions and hypocrisy that mars all attempts of women to penetrate male bastions. One thing is for sure: no Road Romeo ever dared to pass a leering comment at a female sportsperson after Chak De.
2. Andha Kanoon: Of course women in uniform became a hugely successful filmic formula. But when Hema Malini played a cop on this Rajinikanth starrer, she was the first major female star to assume the khaki uniform. After Hema, every A-lister from Vijayshanthi in Tejaswani to Rekha in Phool Bane Angaaray wanted to play a cop at least once in her career.
3. Amelia: Amelia Earhart the first female aviator was played fabulously by Hillary Swank in Mira Nair's film. Amelia flew a plane way back in the 1930s. How many female pilots have been there since then in real and reel lives? Think about it.
4. Laadla: Female business tycoons are still not common in Hindi films. In this film, Sridevi played the ruthless factory owner and industrialist with an arrogant swagger. Of course she had to be 'tamed' by a labourer in her factory who not only romanced her but also turned her from a vixen in business suits to a housewife in sarees. That's what our movies do to powerful women. They emasculate women who assume men's power positions.
5. Bachna Ae Haseeno: Deepika Padukone as a cab driver? Wow, that's one joyride no man would want to miss. This lady was independent-minded and knew how to handle unwanted male attention. And yes, Deepika looked really hot in a chauffeur's cap.
6. Mary Kom: A film about a female boxer? The last one we saw was Hillary Swank (again storming a male bastion) playing a wannabe boxing champ in Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby in 2004. Now it's our own Priyanka Chopra playing the Olympian boxer. This one should change many rules about the way professional women are perceived in Hindi cinema. Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Viacom produce Mary Kom. Even an Olympian boxer needs a strong support system if the boxer happens to be a woman.
7. Bobby Jasoos: What's it about female characters named Bobby that makes them so spirited? There was Dimple Kapadia as Bobby Braganza in Raj Kapoor's film. Decades later its Vidya Balan playing detective Bobby. She not only invades a predominantly masculine profession she does it in the conservative purdah-clad society in Hyderabad. Looks like women snoopers are finally coming out from their hiding places outside closed bedroom doors.