Movies with female protagonists are all Bollywood is talking about lately. With an expanding list of movies with empowered female characters, films are sending out the right message and we couldn't be happier. When it comes to the role of mothers in our lives, we have some beautiful movies that make us appreciate the innumerable things mothers, wives and women do to keep others happy.
Shilpa Shetty's latest movie Sukhee is one such realistic film that portrays the expectations from a woman and the hardships she faces if she chooses to oppose such domineering mindsets. Here is a list of seven such feel-good movies that show mothers standing up for themselves.
Here are some of the Bollywood movies where mothers take charge
Shilpa Shetty made a grand comeback with her latest movie Sukhee which was released in September 2023. In the movie, she plays the character of Sukhee - a selfless mother who decides to take a break from her familial responsibilities and attend her college reunion. The movie is a commentary on our society's perception of women and the expectations of homemakers. The many sacrifices a mother, a wife, or a daughter-in-law makes to keep her loved ones happy often go unnoticed. Sukhee is a wake-up call for all those husbands, children, and in-laws who fail to extend emotional and other forms of support to the wonder women in their lives - the mothers, and the wives.
2. English Vinglish
A classic that manages to melt our hearts every time we watch it, Sridevi starrer English Vinglish is perhaps one of the first films we think of when we talk about female-led stories. In English Vinglish, Sridevi plays the role of Shashi - a dutiful mother and wife who is summoned to New York by her businesswoman sister to organise her niece's wedding. We initially see Sridevi's character being denied the respect and gratitude she deserves for running the household with perfection. We see her struggle in New York with her broken English and low self-esteem, but she rises to the occasion, signs up for English lessons and goes on a beautiful journey of self-discovery.
Panga is a deeply inspiring movie on a mother's journey of rediscovering her lost passion. In Panga, we see Kangana Ranaut starring as a doting mother and wife who works as a railway ticket teller. She used to be the former captain of the national women's kabaddi team and the best raider of her time. But when her familial responsibilities came over and she became a mother, she willingly let go of this part of her life. Seven years later (when we meet her) she has been out of the game and well past her prime age as a player but upon the insistence of her young son, she returns to the game. We witness her struggles at making a comeback and then see her shining again, like the excellent player she has always been. Panga is a beautiful watch telling tales of dreams and how it's never too late to chase them.
4. Maja Ma
Madhuri Dixit starrer Maja Ma is yet another female-led story that leaves you on the edge of your seat. Pallavi Patel (Madhuri Dixit) is a talented garba dancer who actively participates in her community's Navratri celebrations every year. She is the ideal mother and wife skilled at multitasking and managing things. Her son Tejas is about to marry Esha, the daughter of a rich, NRI couple and the entire Patel family attempts to impress them. However, things take a nasty turn when a video accidentally recorded by a child gets played at a gathering right after Pallavi's Garba performance. The video brings Pallavi down from the pedestal of being a 'perfect' woman and leads her to accept her identity and sexuality. The movie portrays her dilemmas and the courage with which she navigates through life.
A unique script that won our hearts in 2009 and enlightened us on a disease called Progeria, Paa is a movie starring Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, and Vidya Balan. This emotional drama where Big B plays the son to his son is once again a movie showcasing the resilient spirit of mothers when it comes to caring for and protecting their children. Vidya Balan, the female protagonist, is a single mother raising her son (Amitabh Bachchan) who has this rare genetic condition called Progeria. The film is a tribute to all strong-willed mothers who selflessly shield their families from hardships.
6. Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway
Mrs Chatterjee vs. Norway depicts the real-life struggles of Sagarika Chakraborty, an Indian woman residing in Norway. Her children were forcefully taken away by Norwegian authorities and Sagarika fought a strenuous battle against the government and society to win back the custody of her children. This spine-chilling movie stars Rani Mukerji as Mrs Chatterjee (the protagonist) and takes us through her journey of regaining custody of her two children, one of whom was still being breastfed when taken away by authorities.
7. Secret Superstar
Secret Superstar is another much-loved movie with strong female characters. We see a mother-daughter duo fight against abusive patriarchy, helplessness and their own insecurities. It's a movie showing how Najma (the mother) finds courage and strength through Insiya (her daughter). The story takes us through the strong bonds between women who struggle to survive in abusive households. An empowering tale of two women who break free from subjugation, and embrace their liberty and freedom, Secret Superstar is a must-watch!
While we are on the topic of movies with strong female characters, we can't miss the OG film of all times, Mother India, where morals and integrity come before anything else to a mother. Honourable mentions also go to Mimi and Kahaani as movies featuring pregnant women who rise to the occasion, take charge, make a difference and become the heroes of their stories!