Sukanya Verma in Mumbai
'Women are like teabags. We don't know our true strength until we are in hot water.' -- Eleanor Roosevelt.
Gentle as a bird, fiercer than a storm, a woman can be a whole lot of extremes and yet a picture of calm grace. Perhaps it is this versatile, persevering character that makes the fairer sex beautiful inside out.
And it is this very picture of her; Hindi cinema strives to translate on celluloid with glamour and aplomb.
On the occasion of International Women's Day, we pay a tribute to Bollywood's most extraordinary on-screen ladies in the last decade.
Vidya: Vidya Balan, Paa
As a loving but sensible single, unwed mother and no-nonsense doctor, Vidya channels her attention on raising a 13-year-old son suffering from a rare debilitating condition, Progeria, without any bitterness or sorrow. Despite the nature of her motherhood, she encourages her patients to extend their family but doesn't feel any need for assistance or involvement from her child's father at any point.
Shruti: Anushka Sharma, Band Baaja Baarat
Unlike the usual dreamy lot of Bollywood heroines, Shruti is refreshingly confident and spirited about her goals. Her enthusiastic business acumen and go-getter attitude along with a vivacious partner make her a rising star among wedding planners.
But under that level-headed reserve is a vulnerable woman who loves with abandon and hurts in dignity.
Michelle: Rani Mukerji, Black
In the Helen Keller-inspired tale, Rani Mukerji plays Michelle McNally, a blind and deaf girl who struggles to make a life out of her darkness under the constant guidance of her unorthodox teacher.
Her relentless efforts, including failed attempts and growing frustration, to lead a self-respecting existence and attain a graduation degree eventually pay off in this touching saga of triumph of spirit.
Geet: Kareena Kapoor, Jab We Met
There's nothing intense about the ever-so-blithe and hopelessly romantic Geet. She makes her own rules, follows her heart and goes by her own chatty logic.
Be it eloping from home to pursue Prince Charming or doing a disappearing act after he rejects her. But because she does this with such dazzling innocence and optimism, you can't help but root for this sprightly lass and her happy ending.
Madhavi: Konkona Sen Sharma, Page 3
An idealistic rookie reporter, Madhavi joins a publication with the hope of doing hard-hitting investigative journalism. Instead she's assigned a slot on Page 3 to write tripe about vain socialites and gossip-hungry party animals.
Although committed and compassionate, Madhavi is startled and disenchanted at how twisted the world of Page 3 really is. Instead of giving into disillusion, she resolves to make a difference while being a part of this murky world.
Sweety: Priyanka Chopra, Kaminey
Plucky and passionate, Sweety doesn't allow her 'underworld don's sister' status come in the way of her saucy romance with a simple guy.
A full-on drama queen, she has no qualms about faking a stutter to win the confidence of her beau or blasting a loaded machine gun at anyone who dares to spoil her party. Unapologetically guts and glam, Sweety is all heart too. And so, more power to her.
Tamanna: Shilpa Shetty, Phir Milenge
Tamanna is the kind of efficient employee companies pride themselves upon. So it's all the more hurtful when they forsake her on learning she's HIV positive.
Instead of taking it lying down or succumbing to the embarrassment associated with the disease, a resolute Tamanna decides to sue her boss for firing her on unfair grounds in this Philadelphia-inspired remake by actress turned filmmaker Revathy.
Geeta: Chitrangda Singh, Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi
A woman's coming-of-age is profoundly chronicled in Sudhir Mishra's Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi through the story of Geeta.
Set around the time of Indian emergency, Geeta emerges from a college girl inspired by the radical, communist views of her boyfriend to an unhappy housewife hung up on the exciting past to a woman of grit and substance confident enough to break from a bad marriage, have a child out of wedlock whilst lending educating to village children and become a part of the social movement.
Ultimately, she evolves into a more solid, reliable figure than the short-lived idols she once looked up to.
Gita: Gayatri Joshi, Swades
She's wise. She's liberated. She's straightforward. And she has a point of view. Mind you, she's very amiable. But don't think you can bully your way around her.
Not interested in joining the rat race, Gita invests her knowledge in providing education to village kids with the intent of making difference at grass-root level.
Having lost her parents at an early age, she's also single-handedly raising her kid brother. Her sorted out idealism aspires for a like-minded partner sharing her views on philanthropy and betterment of society.
Zeenat: Gul Panag, Dor
An inspiring tale of friendship and forgiveness, Dor explores the journey of two women and their contrasting personalities albeit interlinked lives.
A courageous Zeenat travels from Himachal Pradesh to Rajasthan in a bid to convince the reticent Meera into signing a maafinama that will release her husband who erroneously is responsible for the demise of Meera's significant other.
How one's audacity and another's virtue benefit the duo as well as their ability to show strength of character and empathy is what makes Dor such a fine celebration of womanhood.
Chanda: Kalki Koechlin, Dev-D
Living in muck doesn't always blemish a soul. After an unfortunate MMS incident tarnishes her reputation in school and leads her father to suicide, Chanda runs away from home and lands in the business of selling skin.
Despite the unattractiveness of her situation, Chanda is quite the toughie, embracing life for all its worth, and continues to pursue her studies as her only means of rescue.
Aditi: Tabu, Astitva
A woman is adjudged by different rules than a man as pointed out in Mahesh Manjrekar's Astitva. Tabu plays Aditi, a middle-aged housewife who is treated with open indignation from her husband after he learns about an old affair.
Unwilling to accept the circumstances and his own weaknesses behind her actions, the insensitive other half accuses her in the most unbecoming fashion. After a lifetime of compromise, Aditi decides to move out and pursue her own independent identity.
So what are you waiting for? Vote now!