Vamps to Heroines : Tracing the Journey of Bollywood’s Iconic Female Characters

Vamps to Heroines : Tracing the Journey of Bollywood's Iconic Female Characters

Classic Bollywood has usually portrayed women as pure, noble and helpless, though vamps and evil hearted female characters have also won our appreciation and accolades through the ages.

Who can forget Lalita Pawar as the archetypical malicious mother-in-law or Bindu, Nadira and Manorama as bona fide vamps and doers of all that is evil in the flicks of 60s, 70s and 80s. While categorization and stereotype casting of actors as villains and vamps is a little old fashioned, our beautiful leading ladies of Bollywood, do not shy away from portraying different shades of grey.

So let us remember some relatively recent portrayals of grey characters that have left an indelible impact on the Indian audience.

Tabu as Simi in ‘Andhadhun’, a 2018 also film staring Aayushmann Khurrana, and Radhika Apte. Tabu stole the show as Simi, a conniving, calculating and cheating
wife of a former Bollywood super star.
Her livewire characterisation of a woman who believes no one but her extinct and will do whatever it takes to safeguard her interests at all costs wowed us. You love her one minute, hate her the next! Simi was the enigma that Tabu essayed so well!

Priyanka Chopra as Sonia Roy in 2004 flick Aitraaz: Priyanka stunned her audience as Sonia Roy, a manipulative and ambitious woman who has no qualms about falsely accusing her former lover of sexual harassment. Her performance won critical acclaim and it was how she owned the character and commanded the screen space that stood out for fans at large.

Tabu features on this list again! This time for her role in 2003 flick ‘Maqbool’. Tabu delivered a haunting performance as Nimmi, a femme fatale embroiled in a web of deceit and betrayal in Vishal Bharadwaj’s adaptation of Shakespeare’ ‘Macbeth’. She shared the screen space with acting powerhouses such as Pankaj Kapoor and the late Irrfan khan. But her portrayal of a woman of steel, resolved to survive and thrive at all odds, won many accolades.

Priyanka Chopra and Vishal Bharadwaj also feature on our list again, this time for the 2011 film ‘7 Khoon Maaf’. Priyanka owns the narrative and screen space in the film completely! Her portrayal of a serial killer, Roma, who marries multiple men only to dispose them of one by one caught the audience’s attention. A tough role to essay, she excelled in portraying a myriad of dark, twisted, and deep emotions.

Kareen Kapoor Khan as Sonia Roy in “Fida” (2004): Kareena Kapoor Khan showcased her versatility with her portrayal of Sonia Roy, a seductive and scheming woman who ensnares two men in her web of deceit. Her conviction and intensity while portraying the role of Sonia is still etched in our minds.

Deepika Padukone as Veronica in “Race 2” (2013): Deepika Padukone surprised audiences with her portrayal of Veronica, a sharp and cunning woman with a penchant for manipulation. Her performance was praised by one and all.

The last film on our list is again a Tabu film and the last of Vishal Bharadwaj’s trilogy based on Shakespeare’s plays- Haider. The film is set in the politically unstable region of Kashmir. In this Indian adaptation, Tabu plays the part of Ghazala Meer, Hamlet’s mother, who is transformed into Gertrude. Ghazala is a complicated character who struggles with her love for both her husband Khurram (played by Kay Kay Menon) and her son Haider (played by Shahid Kapoor). After her husband vanishes, she becomes involved with her brother-in-law Khurram, which puts her in a morally grey situation.
With her portrayal of the conflicting feelings of love, guilt, and despair, Tabu demonstrates her exceptional acting talent in the role of Ghazala.

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