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When Bollywood gave us stellar stories of sisterhood and female friendships

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Whether on screen or not, female friendships seem to be something that is viewed with a much harsher lens than their male counterparts. Catty seems to be the sexist’s favorite word to describe the inherent nature of friendships between women, as if they suffer from an inability to form meaningful bonds without getting something in return. Unfortunately, the silver screen has also been guilty of perpetuating such stereotypes, with its fair share of depictions of superficial, malevolent, and rarely deep female friendships.

But contemporary cinema seems to be on the right track when it comes to righting those wrongs. Bollywood also gave viewers delightful depictions of female friendships, which captured the joy and depth inherent in these bonds. The industry hasn’t been shy about tackling some hard-hitting topics while it’s been at it as well, leading to some memorable films that weave themes of community and femininity into their stories of female empowerment.

Time and again Jane Austens classics have inspired many woks for the big screen. Rajshree Ojhas 2010 film Aisha was one of them. Adapted from the Austens novel Emma, ​​which also inspired the Hollywood film Clueless, Aisha revolves around the story of the titular protagonist. Aisha seems to have it all; she is wealthy, popular, and has lost confidence in her matchmaking skills. When she tries to set up one of her friends with a man, friendships are put to the test. Even when his honest attempts backfire, causing pain to his loved ones, Aisha’s friends make sure to be by his side despite his mistakes, for which they don’t blame him. The film shows how Aisha’s friends stick with her not only in fun and breezy times, but also in difficult times when she fails to become a good friend herself.

Kangana Ranauts Queen definitely made an impact as a hard-hitting narrative about female empowerment. But in addition to presenting Ranis’s tale of growing up from a sheltered and insecure woman to a confident young woman, the film also showed how the helpful people she met along her journey also contributed to its development. One of them comes in the form of Vijayalakshmi, a woman Rani meets at a hotel in Paris. When Rani finds herself discouraged and about to give up and go home, Vijayalakshmi snaps Rani out of her funk, marking the beginning of Ranis blossoming into an empowered woman.

Along with light and airy stories, Bollywood has also weaved stories of friendship between women around hard-hitting and tumultuous narratives. Parched is one of them. 2015 director Leena Yadav follows the story of four women in a patriarchal village in Gujarat as they combat vicious practices prevalent in the village under the guise of tradition. Bonding with their shared sense of frustration with the lore trying to suppress them, the decision they make that ultimately frees them from their fate also seems to have been a consequence of their strong friendship.

Pink was indeed a groundbreaking film in the way it addressed the rarely talked about consent and gender stereotypes. The film follows the story of three women accused of assaulting a man. The women are subjected to a series of incessant harassment from their accusers. Despite the difficulties in their bond, the three make sure to stay together, no matter what their trials are.

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