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Cinema’s Strongest Female Characters…


May 2013
« Apr   Jun »



dench skyfallzouinasarah polleyshakuntula and chuyianandita dasleilamoushami namesakedench best exotic marigoldashima namesake

according to Jennifer Hollie Bowles at

bowles doesn’t define “strength” of the characters she chose, but we understand that “strength” is not just physical nor limited to age nor toughness but a combination of factors. all good, because some critics have a tendency to read one-sidely or from one perspective or from a limited perspective.
it is good that strength isnt defined as only ‘tough’ as per old feminism or ‘man-like’ in attributes. a woman doesn’t need to be man-like to be strong. nor does a man have to be muscular to emit strength. we should distance this physical characteristic in our portrait of strong female characters.
there are many factors which influence strength of a woman, depending on her social conditioning or culture or multiculture or convictions etc. as we live in a multi cultural society. strength is mutivalenced, mulitlayered, multi defined.
therefore, while these women chosen in this article are indeed strong we could add some non-hollywood female characters to this list, especially if the movies they star in are released first in america and stay in american theatres for a long time as well, and their directors live here, too. if you accept strong women to be women who never waver from what they believe in, are independent and question practices that marginalize women or children etc consider some of my favorites:

1. moushami [educated, independent who is offered a post at sorbonne] or 2. ashima [who leads an independent life after husband dies and goes back to her singing after she leaves america at the almost end of her journey] in “namesake” [mira nair]
3. shakuntala and chuyia in “water” [deepa mehta]: who both question the doctrines that trap women into ashrams for life and crumble those institutions
4. leila in “leila” [dariush mehrjui]: she holds steadfastly to what she believes never showing weakness to a culture which replaces women who can’t bear children.
5. judy dench in “best exotic marigold hotel”: intelligent, soft, charming character who finds acceptance elsewhere – in india – when hollywood refuses her and the other older americans. she rejects a culture that has no place for older women and remakes a life outside of USA
6. judy dench in “skyfall”- the mother of all roles to man that mission-impossible-ship!
7. sarah polley in the “secret life of words” : her resilience and silence to all the atrocities she’s seen and experienced and still shows great strength and believes in love
8. nandita das in “fire” [deep mehta], but nandita in most films is the epitome of strength. see “gravedigger’s daughter” where she goes crazy because her child is taken from her or “bawandar” where she stands up and fights the entire police system which tries to silence her when she’s raped and blamed for it
9. zouina in “inch’allah dimanche” [yamina benguigui] who stands up to her husband and mother in law in a culture where women are wives, mothers, daughters and invisibles.


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