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Female Leads in Hollywood vs. Bollywood - Minnoli


There are star heroines in Bollywood, but their roles in Hindi movies are not usually as powerful as in Hollywood. In Hollywood blockbusters like “The Hunger Games”, “Percy Jackson” and “Harry Potter”, the heroine always is a strong, intelligent, independent girl who has a big part in the story but in Bollywood movies it is quite different. The heroine just sits back at home acting dumb and pretty. They do not get a proper characterization where they can show their acting skills. This is my topic for today. I shall try to compare the lead female roles between three recent English blockbusters: “The Hunger Games”, “Percy Jackson” and “Harry Potter” and three recent hit Hindi movies: “Kahaani”, “Ek Tha Tiger” and “Ra One”.

Let’s first compare “The Hunger Games” and “Kahaani”. They have significant similarities: both having the female lead at the center. However Katniss in the Hunger Games was 17 and Vidya in Kahaani was in her thirties.  Both characters were intelligent and battle ready. Katniss was defying death, while Vidya faced death only once. Since Katniss was always in a danger, she made tons of enemies out to kill her, but over time she also made two friends who came forward to save her life. Vidya also faced many enemies out to derail her search for her missing husband, but she was physically not harmed until the climax scene. Vidya acted pregnant and weak so the police officers felt sorry for her and went out of their way to help her find her husband. Both lost one of their family members. Both faced great tragedy but were motivated to fight for what was right. These two ladies showed their strengths and weaknesses. Katniss was very strong and a good fighter but loyalty was her weakness. When someone she loved disappeared, she broke down. Vidya was gifted with her brains but lost her cool when she was frustrated by the spy officer. Finally they were different kinds of fighters. Katniss was defensive since all she cared about was saving herself and her friends. Whereas Vidya was ready face her husband’s killer all alone.

Next we compare “Percy Jackson” and “Ek Tha Tiger”. There were again lots of similarities. For instance, both were action movies. However there were differences also.  In “Ek Tha Tiger”, the hero and heroines were in their thirties and forties but in “Percy Jackson”, the characters are teenagers. In “Percy Jackson”, the heroine, Annabeth was one of the best fighters in the camp. Zoya, the heroine in Ek Tha Tiger, on the other hand, was not so strong but could do some basic actions. In both movies, the main characters make many enemies but in “Ek Tha Tiger” Tiger, the hero and Zoya didn’t have any friends and the whole world was trying to kill them. In “Percy Jackson”, Percy, the hero had made a few enemies but he also had many friends including Annabeth, defending him, ready to die to save his life. In both movies, the heroes make the heroines their best-friends by doing them a favor. The heroines stayed loyal to the heroes through thick and thin. But at the end both the movies were hero centric and the heroines were strong but side roles.

Finally we compare “Harry Potter” and “Ra One”. Hermione in Harry Potter was strong willed, intelligent and courageous. She was the guiding force and provided several strategies to Harry Potter in overcoming obstacles. However in Ra One the heroine is almost nameless. She is mostly a wall paper with one hit musical score. As always Ra One heroine is much older than Hermione. Hermione though Muggle-born strives to become the best in the wizard school, where as the Ra One heroine had never attempted to understand or counter Ra One, she was content to remain a companion of G One. Perhaps the heroine in Ra One was given the weakest role. Most movies are like Ra One with a faint female heroine – perhaps Kahaani was an exception.

While I have enjoyed all the 6 movies, I cannot help looking for similarities and differences in the female roles. If you haven’t watched them yet, I recommend you to give it a try.



#10 Didhiti Bhoumik 2013-11-14 10:42
A great article! Something for the Indian Moviemakers start to think about..this young generation is looking for female leads close to their age..they are looking for inspiration! Great Job Minnoli...hope to hear more from you!
#9 Marjan 2013-10-08 12:38
Great movie theme depiction and comparison! Very impressive and eloquently put together. I enjoyed reading the article, it is nicely articulated. I can see that you are an intelligent heroine yourself with great writing and analyzing skills. You should be proud of yourself. Keep up the great work and perhaps in near future you can be a famous film critic.
#8 Debarshi 2013-10-08 11:50
All the 6 movie themes are very nicely depicted. Very much liked the comparision of the heroine roles in the films. Good going...Keep it up and hope to see more of these kind of unique movie reviews
#7 Mimi Paul 2013-10-06 20:24
Way to start sweetheart....E njoyed reading it...
#6 Anushka 2013-10-05 18:37
Good Job Minnolli, I have seen and read the books for the Hollywood movies you wrote about but I haven't seen the Bollywood ones, but it was very well written :) keep up the good work !
#5 Anuradha Sen 2013-10-04 22:46
Very well put! It's really great that you can discern the strength, intelligence and courage in the lead characters. Since you've learned to do that, you'll also be able to recognize the negative stereotypes that often pervade in movies, TV and real life - and will shun them.
#4 Anuradha Sen 2013-10-04 22:44
Very well written! It's really great that you can discern the strength, intelligence and courage in the lead characters. Since you've learned to do that, you'll also be able to recognize the negative stereotypes that often pervade in movies, TV and real life - and will shun them.
#3 Parames Misra 2013-10-04 21:32
Wonderful writing, Minnoli!!! I am so proud to see your so beautiful writing style at such a young age!! I look forward to see your script for the Pagla Dashu play. I have heard that you have done a fantastic job there as well. Keep it up and I am sure, you will make all of us (not only your parents) so proud...
#2 Nivedita Chaudhuri 2013-10-04 17:48
Indeed impressive. Minnoli, it was so refreshing to get to see the comparison from your eyes. Very well written shona, keep at it, and keep making us all proud.
#1 Debarati Chatterjee 2013-10-04 12:26
How old are you little girl?? I am impressed :) Keep it up.. keep writing

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