Bollywood is hailed for the top-notch entertainment it provides. Got no plans? “Let’s go to the movies”, is that one suggestion you always hear. But Bollywood has come a long way from producing blockbusters alone and this is visible very clearly today. These days, movies are aimed not only at entertainment but also educating the society that once what was considered to be a taboo, is not even an issue in the first place.
Movies based on stories where widows re-marry and talk openly about menstruation, families discuss their issues about an illness or divorce or their children being gay, women work as sex objects but fight their way to be treated respectfully, are hitting the screen. Where people feel talking about ‘something’ is taboo, there Bollywood does the opposite.
Entertainment is one of the best ways to communicate a message to the population. Here is a list of movies that hit the screens, hearts, and minds of the public, opening their eyes to a better understanding of topics that are brushed under the carpet often.
Based on a true story, this movie was much needed. Menstruating women being banished from daily activities like entering a temple, kitchen or even going out in public, being called ‘impure’ needs to change. A man named Lakshmikant lives in a village with his wife when one day, he gets upset on seeing Gayatri using a dirty old rag while menstruating. When Lakshmikant offers to buy pads, Gayatri gets angry because they can’t afford that kind of luxury. This becomes food for thought for him when after numerous trials and errors, he finds a way to make sanitary pads affordable to women in the village for their better health and hygiene, empowering them in the process.
Shubh Mangal Savdhaan
Women aren’t the only ones subjected to society’s unnecessary sarcasm and judgment. Men are often targeted too. Like when they cry, are impotent, become house-husbands and the like. This movie casts spotlight on one such issue where a man is dealing with a case of erectile dysfunction. Mudit intends to marry Sugandha but once the marriage’s date is fixed, Mudit discovers that he suffers from erectile dysfunction. When Sugandha’s family learns about this, they try all sorts of ways to resolve the problem and see it as a reason to break the marriage.
Teen pregnancy is still a very touchy subject. Kya Kehna left the audience re-thinking their approach towards teen pregnancy. The movie narrates the story of a first-year college going student Priya Bakshi who falls in love with Rahul, a wealthy womanizer. Ignoring her best friend Ajay and her brother’s warnings, Priya starts dating Rahul. When she becomes pregnant, Rahul refuses to marry her and she is shunned by her own family and ridiculed by society.
Devdhar, an orphan, has always been friends with Manorama since his childhood. He goes to the city to complete his education. Manorama is married to a powerful and rich man, who dies the very next day after their wedding. 8 years later, Devdhar returns home and decides to bring happiness into Manorama’s life again, battling the traditional thinking that widows must be left isolated.
It is not easy for women in India to voice their discomfort with their marriage. Apart from being forced to be with someone even though the love is long lost, women falling in love with each other isn’t something anyone even thinks about let alone speak.
This movie fits ‘one arrow, two targets’ perfectly. Narrating the story of Sita and Radha, the audience is exposed to the different kind of troubles women go through during a marriage. Sita and Radha, who are sisters-in-law, are unhappy with their marriage to the brothers of the house. Jatin shows no interest in Sita after their marriage. Radha’s husband is unhappy that she cannot have children and follows the orders of a Hindu priest. The two women find solace in each other and experience the love they have been deprived of.
Mai, Meri Patni… aur Voh
Men have to be taller, stronger and braver than women. That is the law… of nature? No! That’s a rule the society has set. Thank God for the change! Today, the world is more open to men crying, doing chores, taking care of the children while a woman handles an office on her own. Main, Meri Patni Aur Woh is one such movie that portrays a short man’s insecurities after he marries a woman taller than him. His happy marriage is on the verge of breaking when his beautiful wife re-kindles her marriage with her charming childhood friend.
People with HIV are till date treated as outcasts. Tackling this issue and spreading awareness, this movie is based in Goa during the time period 1986 to 1994 when a law was passed in Goa – the Goa Public Health Act, according to which people diagnosed with HIV had to stay isolated from the rest. Nikhil Kapoor, a state all round swimming champion is thrown out of his house and team after he is diagnosed with the same. His sister Anamika and his boyfriend Nigel stand by him and try to change the way people treat him.
Margarita with a straw
Laila, a teenager with cerebral palsy, is left heartbroken after a boy she had a crush on rejects her. She lands a scholarship for a semester at New York University. There, she develops feelings for Jared, assigned to help her in her creative writing, while also being attracted to Khanum who is a blind girl and an activist. Laila tries to understand her sexual orientation while her mother who is orthodox, remains her best friend all the while.
Lipstick under my burkha
Women, for a long time, have been assigned a place in the house and allowed to go nowhere else. No dreams, no desires, no expectations allowed. This movie reveals that women dream and the struggles they have to go through to realise their dreams. The lives of four women is on a path of change as they fight to fulfill their wishes. Confused, in love, caught up in finding their true-self while keeping the journey a secret, is not so easy and this movie takes you on a wonderful ride through it all.
Live-in relationships are still frowned upon in India, and for a couple to live together, they need a validation in the form of marriage.
Nick and Ambar move to Melbourne, Australia to pursue their dreams. Nick becomes a head chef and Ambar takes up a job as an RJ at a local radio station called Salaam-Namaste to pay for her education to become a surgeon. Nick is invited to the show where he confesses his love for Amber. They decide to move in together. But all their plans go south when they discover that Ambar is pregnant.
Toilet-Ek prem katha
A toilet on the same grounds as a respected plant like “tulsi” means dishonor. Resistance towards change is common hence, people hesitate to speak up against what they know is wrong. For example, not building enough toilets in villages.
Keshav, a simple man living in a village, is married to a buffalo by his father to help him be lucky in the future. He falls in love with a college girl, Jaya. Upon charming her, they finally get married but when Jaya sees that early in the morning the women in the village go out in the fields to defecate, she is horrified and tells Keshav she would not have married him if she knew about this. Keshav tries to make her understand but she insists on building a toilet. Will Keshav lose his wife or fight the backward thinking of the villagers and save his marriage?
Pink brings to light the restrictions and humiliation that we, as a society, put on women on a daily basis. In the movie, three independent, working women are tangled in a case of ‘attempt of murder’ of a reputed man named Rajveer. What starts as a case against the three women, soon unravels as a case of assault and attempt to rape against Rajveer himself. The movie is of grave importance as it highlights why women become easy targets of predators.
Substance abuse as an issue that needs immediate attention. Teens indulge in such activities and easy of access to it is what is far more alarming. Nobody likes to talk about it, because they think their friends, family, acquaintances are not taking drugs or cocaine. What people need to understand is, it could be someone you love someday and it could be too late to save them.
The film tells the story of four individuals and how their paths cross. Tommy, a successful singer, Baurai, a laborer, Preet, a doctor who runs a rehab center and police officer, Sartaj Singh. Tommy is an uncontrolled cocaine user. Baurai, an aspiring hockey player, had to let go of her dreams and become a laborer only to face a scary fate upon finding drugs and trying to sell them. Preet and Sartaj band together to nab the master behind the entire operation that is ruining Punjab.
Ki & Ka
Ki & Ka addresses an important stereotype of the society that women are better suited as housewives and men need to earn the bread & butter to run the house. Kabir & Kia, an uncommon couple, live their life happily as Kia goes to work and Kabir stays at home as the house-husband. Issues crop up between them like any other household but its amusing to see the tables turned as Kia potrays the oh-so-dominant male ego and gets jealous when Kabir tries to do anything except household chores.