10 Kick-Ass Bollywood Ladies

Rekha Transformed in Khoon Bhari Maang

This idea germinated in my wicked brain when I read a post on io9 discussing the new faces who are supposedly going to be the successors of the Sigourney Weaver throne of Action Girl. So we have had Angelina Jolie, Uma Thurman and Mila Jovovich who are the alumni of the ‘League of Action Queens’, but it made me wonder if we did have any such ladies to flaunt in Bollywood. The answer is not so surprising. It is a big NO. I get it. We Indians are not very violent by nature, and the ladies are far away from it. I know, we occassionally find ladies learning and practicing martial arts in some movies, but that is about it. I don’t see a remote possibility of a Rani Mukherjee or Katrina Kaif doing a double flip, wearing a body suit and gunning down 25 gunmen with an Uzi while she casually chews on her gum. Of course, we saw a bit of that with Deepika Padukone in CC2C, but we all know what happened to that.

And yes, although I do miss this void that Bollywood has, I do think that Bollywood leading ladies are Kick-Ass in their own way. ‘Inki Alag hi Baat Hai’. I do accept that Bollywood leading ladies have come a long way from being the ever demanding damsel in distress, to the companion of the Hero’s plans, to even being completely kick-ass in a very independent way. And after intense brainstorming over my cup of capuccino, I have narrowed down to the following 10. These are imo, the Kick-Ass Bollywood Ladies. Some are indeed very femme fatale, while others are more domestic ["gharelu"], but even so, they all kick some good desi buttocks.

In no particular order:

Zeenat Aman – Roma – Don

Zeenat Aman as Roma in Don

I believe she is a template for every Kickass Bollywood leading lady. After all she has the ‘Pratishod ki Jwala’ [ The Volcano of Vengeance, ha! it sounds even more fun in English] in her. She is trained in Martial Arts, Gun Fight, and she has a plan in mind with a set goal – Kill DON. And above all, she does not hesitate to kick ass. Compared to this, Priyanka Chopra did get her ass kicked.

Sridevi-Seema-Mr India

Sridevi as Seema in Mr.India

Long before Barkha Dutt became the nations “Leading” journalist, Seema  showed what it takes to commit to the job. Working for a daily newspaper with an Editor who gets wrong numbers [ ha! the 80s], Seema is so committed to getting the headlines material, that she gambles her own life to go to the villains den, dress as a Hawaiian dancer dressed in shimmering gold and almost escaping being lashed. Phew! And this was way before ‘Breaking News’ existed.

Madhuri Dixit – Saraswati – Beta

Madhuri Dixit and Aruna Irani battle it - Beta

I am a Madhuri Bhakt[devotee]. And this movie was the one which made me a Bhakt. Ever seen a movie which totally reverses what the filmmaker intended to. Indra Kumar’s Beta has Anil Kapoor as ‘the Beta’ and Madhuri as the Bahu. But trust me on this, after you watch this movie, you’ll soon realise why it actually needs to be renamed as ‘Bahu’. Madhuri effortlessly kicks Sasu-maas ass with her endless counter attacks to Sasu-maa Aruna Irani’s Soutela Witchcraft, I mean evil plans.

Hema Malini – Geeta -Seeta Aur Geeta

Hema Malini as Geeta - Seeta Aur Geeta

You know why it is here. So, dobara mat poochna. Just watch this video and also this one and show some respect!

Sridevi-Manju-Chaalbaaz

Sridevi as Manju in Chalbaaz

I know it is (very) similar to Hema jee’s Geeta. But c’mon. Did you think that I would not include Manju from the Kick-Ass list. Never before in the whole wide world, has anyone been so amazingly daarubaaz, chaalbaaz and romance Rajnikanth at the same time. Add to that,  she dances in the rain, the disco and has an awesome sense of make up. Manju deserves to be here, and she is not going anywhere. Period!

Hema Malini-Basanti – Sholay

Hema Malini as Basanti - Sholay

This one’s obvious. She is an independent soul. She makes her own living in a remote town called Ramgarh, where the average women help their bread-earner men by making them Roti and Sabzee. She even has her financial plan ready[Belapur ka 2 Rupya, Ramgarh ka Dedh Rupa remember], wants to learn how to shoot a gun [ well, hold a gun at leaast]. And dude, did you just hear how much she can talk? If Gabbar would have been a good listener, she would’ve kill ‘em all.

Rekha- Aarti – Khoon Bhari Maang

Rekha as Aarti - Khoon Bhari Maang

Now, if we are talking about proper Femme Fatale types, this is THE ONE. I have very vivid memories of Khoon Bhari Maang, and specially geeking out at the Plastic Surgery scene when the skin from the thigh was taken and pasted on the face. [I'll rant about that in a future post]. But here’s why she is kick ass. She is a vulnerable single mother who survives a friggin Crocodile incident. In any book, that is bloody huge. And just like Roma, her “Volcano of Vengeance” drives her to stay away from her own kids, get a facial transformation and kick the Bewafa Sanam’s ass.

Rekha-Manju-Khubsoorat

You’re already quite aware about my love for Khubsoorat, and I know I cannot postpone writing about the movie for long now. But for now, yet another snippet of my love for Manju [yet another Manju on this list :) ]. Manju is the epitome of “independence”. The song “Kaayda Todke Socho Ek Din” speaks it all. And yes, Rekha sang it herself. She’s not a rebel, but not a meek, gharelu behenji types either. Manju knows how to have fun. She’s a brilliant PR person who knows the means of effective communication and is also excellent at taking risks – well not as risky as gambling with her own life. But when someone like Dina Pathak is the disciplinarian, gambling for an in-house stage show is a big gamble in its own way. And for all that, I believe Manju is ekdum Bindass and Kickass [ say it in a rhyming fashion for maximum delight and effect]

Kareena Kapoor-Geet – Jab We Met

Kareena Kapoor as Geet - Jab We Met

I know this list has now gone from the utterly dangerous and femme fatale types to the independent types. But Jab We Met’s Geet is one of the few leading lady characters which reminded me of Manju. Geet, as Shahid truly points out, is - Ek Hi Piece. Tumhe Dekhne Ke Liye Ticket Lagna Chahiye :) Her childish innocence coupled with the wicked gleam in her eyes make her one of my most beloved leading ladies. But why is she featured as kickass. C’mon dude. She is a Jattni  and granddaughter of Daara Singh,the Great. She is infectiously optimistic [at least the first half] and you can’t match her instantaneous replies. To quote the great Geet – Tum Chaho Bhi to Rape Nahi Kar Sakte [ Even if you want to, you can't rape me :P] Geet- Tussi Great Ho!

And finally,..drumroll please..

Babli – Bunty aur Babli

Rani as Babli - Bunty Aur Babli

We all love the effervescent Rani. And this is ONE BIG BOTTLE filled to the brim with Rani magic. Don’t you think so? C’mon, she looted a whole mall for fuck sake. Yeah, yeah! Half of it is Bunty aka Rakesh’s idea too. But where would Bunty be without Babli? And let’s not forget the -Sell the Taj Mahal hoax. Babli is simply brilliant. After all, it does show if you are Puneet ‘Duryodhan’ Issar’s beti :P

So that is my List of the the Kickass Bollywood Ladies. I know I haven’t included the likes of Helen in many a dangerous roles or Parveen Babi, Bindiya Goswami or Neetu Singh. Also, the exclusion of the Bandit Queen or Hunterwali are simply because of my non-familiarity with them. Can you think of other kickass leading ladies of Bollywood? Jump to the comments section and shout it out NOW!!!

P.S. I might be suffering from non-regularitis on OKS because of my scheduled holiday to India during May. I will try my best to blog, but nothing is certain. But I’ll definitely try to catch up with all you guys once I am back. Cheerio!

Image Courtesy: Beth, BollyWood Deewana, PPCC and Memsaab

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22 thoughts on “10 Kick-Ass Bollywood Ladies

  1. But where would Bunty be without Babli?

    Totally agree! Bunty would be nothing without Babli :-)

    [Reply]

    Sujoy Reply:

    But of course!!! Thaat dikhaye..aur Baat Banaye ..Oy Babli :) Love the song, love Rani

    [Reply]

  2. Ha! i love your post but i don’t really consider Bubli an ass kicking female that airport scene still turns me off in a major way, and Geet from Jab we met as well, she had it at first but she succumbed to heartbreak. My fave ladies who kick but are

    Reena Roy in Nagin (no easy feat for a bollywood heroine to kill and butcher up male stars like Feroz Khan, Kabir Bedi,Vinod Mehra amongst others)
    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_YQSZcpg4rHg/Sktw3WHoo4I/AAAAAAAABng/lhckOWbh6yM/s1600-h/Slide54.JPG

    Rekha as Namrata in Phool Bane Angaray (see proof below)

    Dimple Kapadia as Kiran in Zakhmi Aurat (proof below)

    Hema Malini in Jyoti as the whip Cracking Bahu
    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_YQSZcpg4rHg/SuYc1Z4nHsI/AAAAAAAADIk/9O_8VOwjIFQ/s1600-h/Slide55.JPG

    Raadhika as Aarti in Kudrat ka kanoon
    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_YQSZcpg4rHg/Stx68umgYaI/AAAAAAAADDo/ya2XHFd2zrU/s1600-h/Slide86.JPG

    Urmila as Sarika in Ek Hasina thi
    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_YQSZcpg4rHg/SajSheuej7I/AAAAAAAAAJQ/SjdpAwRgZSM/s1600-h/Slide99.JPG

    As bad as 80′s bollywood seems to be thrashed, it actually made lots of feminist type masala, i love all these movies and i hope you can recommend many more. As you’re a Sridevi lover like me, you’ll be pleased she did a kickbutt flick ‘Sherni’ which i’m yet to see, but here’s a youtube clip

    and if you can watch it all on youtube here’s the full movie with English Subs

    .-= bollywoodeewana’s last blog ..:Happy Belated Blogthday & How i fell in love with Bollywood =-.

    [Reply]

    Sujoy Reply:

    Bows down to the Eighties master :)

    Most of the movies of the 80s that I have seen over the last 20 years or so have mostly been in bits and pieces either due to VHS getting jerky towards the middle or end, or due to my Mum :)

    But yes, I completely agree with two of your suggestions – Urmila in Ek Hasina Thi, and Reena Roy in Naagin.

    As for Sridevi, I am yet to watch Sherni as well. But then, she’s got many more such movies such as ‘Army’ :P

    As for Phool Bane Angarey – I thought Khoon Bhari Maang is a better choice to go with. And too much Rekha would have caused an uproar.

    Geet and Bubli are very contemporary, believable human characters who are Kick-Ass in the beginning, but get subdued towards the end due to circumstances [ pregnancy, heartbreak]. But still, their ass-kicking abilities in the first innings is just awesome. And frankly, I HAD to include at least two ass-kicking ladies of my generation as well. Otherwise the ‘junta’ would start taunting me by calling ‘Stuck in the 80s’ .

    BTW, did you notice (just maybe) how much awesome the 80s are !!! :)

    [Reply]

    bollywoodeewana Reply:

    Indeed the 80′s were awesome maybe perhaps even more so because i’ma child of that decade ;0)
    .-= bollywoodeewana’s last blog ..:Talash (1969) =-.

    [Reply]

    harvey Reply:

    Somehow I always have this feeling about the 80s female-centric movies are that they were mostly heterosexual men fantasies. Something like Bollywood’s answer to “I spit on your grave”. But their are notable exceptions like Khoon Bhari Maang and supposedly (I haven’t seen the movie, bollywood dewana has written a splendid review of it!) Zakhmi Aurat.
    Chaalbaaz is a good female centred movie as well. And the good tthing about it is that it is a comedy!
    I just saw it last week! Poora paisa vasool!
    .-= harvey’s last blog ..:Baaz (1953) =-.

    Sujoy Reply:

    Haa, I think it’s high time that I paid visit to my good ol’ Chaalbaaz DVD :) And Khoon Bhari Maang as well. Totally agree with the splendidness of Bolly Deewana’s review.

  3. Your video links about hema malini arent working.

    Where is Maya? Madam Re in Khiladion ke khiladi?
    .-= AVa’s last blog ..:Ishqiya – Krishna gets a Valentine =-.

    [Reply]

    Sujoy Reply:

    It’s working here. Don’t know why it isn’t working for you.

    Try hitting the URLs directly here:

    and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vy1raMG3rSY

    If they still don’t work, probably there are some country restrictions with YouTube. Might be!

    [Reply]

  4. A great list!
    Agree with you on all aspects about it except Zeenat Aman’s Roma. Not because I think the role wasn’t ‘kick-ass’ but because Zeenat Aman was to cardboard-cut-out for me. Although she has a huge screen presence, she destroys it whens he opens her mouth. BTW I loved Priyanka Chopra in Don. For me she was the only saving grace of the movie.
    Just love Madhur Dixit’s role in Beta. As I saw the film I was left wondering what Anil Kapoor was doing in the movie?
    Sridevi as Manju in Chalbaaz is simply great, though I am of the opinion that she should have let her dialogues be dubbed.
    Basanti and Geeta are where I love Hema the most with the probable exception of Meera! I think Meera was a totally hatke feminist role!
    .-= harvey’s last blog ..:Baaz (1953) =-.

    [Reply]

    Sujoy Reply:

    If you think Zeenat was carboard cut-out, then I must say – welcome to the 70′s of Bollywood :)
    Piggy Chops in Don was actually just meh for me.

    I had the same feeling for Anil Kapoor’s contribution in Beta.
    Sridevi as Manju is cracklingly awesome innit. Glad you liked the post. Hope you’ll be back for more.

    [Reply]

  5. ‘Inki Alag hi Baat Hai’
    Kahin suna hua lagta hai…..

    anyways, interesting topic for a blogpost. Rarely we do make lists about our Heroines.

    Fab choices, though I watched ‘Beta’ as a kid, so Beta ka zyaada yaad nahi aa raha. But Madhuri can be kick ass in just any movie.

    I can see how Re, Sri and Hema ji tops this list. Indeed they were power women. But u have forgotten Dimple ji who copied the original Vijya Shanti. :P
    Khoon bhari maang was my childhood addiction. DD used to show that movie a lot, and I was hooked to it. Yayed whenever ‘new and improved’ Re came on screen.

    From newer lot, Ek Hasina Thi was wow. And Bebo in JWM is just unforgettable.

    oh, latest is ‘ChuSo4′ :)
    .-= dunkdaft’s last blog ..:Bollywood in Gujarat =-.

    [Reply]

    Sujoy Reply:

    Haa, usse yaad aaya, that I have done a huge blunder by excluding Vijaya Shanti’s brand of movies.
    Dimple jee, hmm, don’t know if she is Top 10 material :P
    Ek Hasina Thi is another bad omission on my part. And ChuSo4 didn’t cross my mind at all. Why the Eff??? Isiliye twitter pe discussion kar lena chahiye tha hehe.. ek part 2 karwa lenge…koi tension nahi :)

    [Reply]

  6. Awesome list!! I agree with bollywooddeeweena, he has beaten me out with the 80s, he’s awesome :)

    Even though the ladies have some kick-ass roles, I have to disagree with Geet from JWM. I love her but not kick-ass enough for me.

    The South Indian actresses have more sassiness in their roles.

    I would like to see more kick-ass action from Indian actresses. Kinda like the wish-remake post I did for So Close with my dream cast :)
    .-= Nicki’s last blog ..:Raqeeb – Khanna.O.Rama part deux with Rahul Khanna =-.

    [Reply]

    Sujoy Reply:

    Heheh nicky. It’s ok to not agree with Geet. As Darshit mentioned, Vijaya Shanti should have been an absolute addition to that list.

    [Reply]

  7. Dude, how can you forget Urmila in Rangeela/Ek hasina thi ?
    And for god’s sake- PREETY the pregnant ZINTA in ‘Kya kehna’ !

    [Reply]

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