Badhai ho. Women are not only getting more leading roles, movies led by women are making more money. A study of the global box office from 2014 to 2017 has found that in every budget bracket, average earnings of women-led films outstripped their men-led rivals. Evidently audience viewpoints and taste are shifting such that it now makes good business sense to cast women leads.
A look at the Indian box office in 2018 shows that it is also delivering to this women power trend. The Deepika Padukone led Padmaavat set the ball rolling in January and it raced on unstoppably. Alia Bhatt in nail-biting Raazi essayed a young Kashmiri who is embedded as an Indian spy in Pakistan. In Stree, a spirited Shraddha Kapoor roamed around small town Madhya Pradesh, abducting men in the dead of the night, but only after getting their ‘consent’. The men stop venturing out alone, they grow wary of talking to strangers. Veere Di Wedding channelled the Cyndi Lauper anthem into a female-bonding rollercoaster. Tabu’s Lady Macbeth act in Andhadhun was super edgy. Down south the biographical Mahanati shone today’s bright light on yesteryear legend, Savitri.
These were just a few of the favourite women-led films of the year but their range suggests roles really are getting meatier for actresses. As to how these films impact gender roles in real life, maybe the wit got it right who said feminism made Wonder Woman and then Wonder Woman remade feminism.