Everything Bollywood did right in 2018

Every year, we find ourselves exclaiming that “THIS was the year of women in Bollywood”, almost willing the film industry to break away from weak, stale and cliche portrayals of women. However, this optimistic trope has never been truer than in the year that was. From strong, yet heartbreakingly vulnerable, Indian spies to cold, manipulative murderers, the representation was remarkable. Despite several misses (we’re talking behemoth misses), there were a lot of sweet, sweet hits that made this year one of the best for Bollywood movies in a long time. With a sharper focus on content, rather than brute star power, the landscape of Bollywood was dotted with several noteworthy moments and here are some of our favourites. 

Female sexuality went mainstream

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It’s 2019 and we’re happy to report that Bollywood has finally stopped pretending that the female orgasm doesn’t exist. If you’d have told me that I would see the lead actress of a movie masturbate in front of her husband and mother-in-law, while the iconic theme song from Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham played in the background, I would never have believed it. But the movie Gods delivered and, lo and behold, we saw not one, not two but three masturbation scenes on screen. Both Neha Dhupia and Kiara Advani take charge of their own sexuality in Lust Stories, leading to the hilarious aforementioned scene. In Veere Di Wedding, Swara Bhasker is in the throes of an orgasm when her husband walks in.

Love stories came in different packages

For every frat boy dream project like Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, we got a fully realised love story like that of Neena Gupta and Gajraj Rao in Badhaai Ho. This year, the industry peeled back the layers of love, carefully and sensitively, with movies like Manmarziyan, Raazi, Dhadak, Laila Majnu and more. Dumping the happily-ever-format, Bollywood flirted with more realistic love stories. 

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The rise of the anti-heroine

*Spoiler Alert, if you haven’t watched Andhadhun yet*

Tabu was devilishly, and deliciously, bad in Andhadhun; she ruthlessly murdered an old woman, while also blinding the hero of the film, without batting an eyelid. In fact, I believe that Andhadhun was a good movie, made great by Tabu’s presence. You can fight me if you disagree, I’m ready. Alia Bhatt’s portrayal of an Indian spy living in Pakistan (Raazi), who didn’t hesitate before making cut-throat choices, set the tone for strong-willed leading ladies of Bollywood. What followed was a host of anti-heroines, from Anushka Sharma in Pari to Tapsee Pannu in Manmarziyan, rounding things off with Tabu. 

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Tabu. Just Tabu.

Yes, I’ve already stated this, but she deserves a whole point to herself. 

#MeToo made an impact

The #MeToo movement gained momentum in 2018 and its reverberations were felt in Bollywood too. While there’s still a long way to go, it’s an optimistic sign of the changes that are to come. Filmmaker Sajid Khan was removed as the director of the upcoming movie Housefull 4, starring Akshay Kumar and Nana Patekar, who also has been accused of harassment. Phantom Films announced its dissolution after one of the founders, Queen director Vikas Bahl, was accused of sexual misconduct by several women, including Kangana Ranaut.

Aamir Khan and Kirran Rao stepped away from a project helmed by someone who was accused of sexual misconduct. They released a joint statement stating that there will be zero tolerance for sexual misconduct and predatory behaviour at Aamir Khan productions, and they will be working towards making the industry a safer place to work for women.

Akshay Kumar’s brush with menstruation

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It was a pleasant shock to see a mainstream leading man stuffing sanitary pads down his underwear (so that he can test the product he has made for his wife and sisters) and then proceed to bleed out all over his crotch area. In R. Balki’s Padman, Akshay Kumar did all that and more. While the movie veered on in the ‘too patronising’ category more often than not, it did raise a lot of awareness for a worthy cause: the sexual health of women in rural areas. Despite a wasteful and poorly thought-through ‘Padman challenge’ (people were asked to pose with pads on Instagram) and a wildly unnecessary sub-plot about Sonam Kapoor being a tabla player, the movie did manage to make one think. 

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