Bollywood has brushed off the notion ”Bollywood is a male dominated industry” with its recent release Akira directed by ‘AR Murugadoss’ starring ‘Sonakshi Sinha’, the Dabangg girl of Bollywood, in the most ruthless and boisterous avatar.

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2016 has been the year of woman-centric films showing girls in action giving power-packed performances. All of us have been stalking Bollywood divas for their fashion and lifestyle but now the things are changing when Bollywood divas are not just divas but real heroes getting out of their mundane roles and taking up action films.

We are way past the time when women were only featured in item numbers or as side actors. We have seen a change in trend from the past 2-3 years.

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If we go back half a century, movies like Mother India and Pakeezah which are considered two of the finest classics of Indian cinema were path-breaking films. But things changed in the ’80s and ’90s. While directors still dared to put their feet in films dealing with feminist issues, commercially the movies turned out to be flops, no matter how genuine the intention of the film-maker was.

Films like Lajja and Mrityudand, pop up in my mind. While these movies dealt with the daring subject of the women’s victory, they didn’t make their mark at the box office. Most women-oriented films surprisingly received a poor response back then.

Movies with women playing the “hero” of the film failed miserably and constantly. Soon producers feared to invest in these films.

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However, the tide seems to be turning in favor of these movies with women-centric scripts. On the other hand, actresses are also more open to playing the lead characters for a change. We have seen movies like English Vinglish, Mary Kom, Neerja, Mardaani etc do well at the box office and that has encouraged the filmmakers to do more women-centered movies.

“Most of the audiences are men; they buy tickets at the counter. Besides, there is this perception that women-centric films will be boring and righteous. Unless more women get out on their own and decide what they want to watch, things will not change.” said Film Maker ‘Gauri Shinde’, who made a successful directorial debut with English Vinglish.

Actor ‘Dia Mirza’ said, “As our audiences evolve, so do our filmmakers and their ability to tell stories showcasing women in interesting forms. The new India is eager to celebrate women characters that are nuanced, entertaining and most importantly, real. Eventually, it will always be the story that is the clincher, and it’s great to see that we find more and more women now taking our stories forward.”

‘Shabana Azmi’, known for playing a formidable woman in her films, asks both filmmakers and audiences to be patient. “I think this is a misconception. Vidya Balan’s women-centric films have had commercial success, and in the past too, films of Meena Kumari and Nutan were very successful. I’ve had a fairly decent stint myself. We underestimate our audiences; they warm up to a good film. What sometimes fails is the budget, not the film”, she emphasizes.

After Mardaani star ‘Rani Mukherjee’ who played the role of a cop and Sonam Kapoor’s Neerja showing the strength and courage of a girl, Akira is another addition to Bollywood’s woman-centric movies.

Bollywood now seems to be well aware of changing tastes of their audience where people don’t just want to see the romance and male dominated movies but the women emerging out of their cocoon, throwing legs and punches.

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