The women deserved their credit back then and even now. With filmmakers soon understanding the importance of including a female perspective, these figures are getting the recognition they deserve. Here’s a look at 5 historical women that Indian cinema portrayed and how they still have miles to go on that front.
Jhansi Ki Rani in Manikarnika
Born as Manikarnika, Rani Lakshmibai was the queen of the princely state of Jhansi in North India, which is currently present in Uttar Pradesh. She was one of the leading figures of the infamous Indian Rebellion of 1857 and became a symbol of resistance to the British Raj. Her sacrifices made her an icon during the Indian Independence Movement. The film Manikarnika has Kangana Ranaut playing the titular character. She is also directing the film along with director Krish Jagarlamudi. The movie is slated to hit the theatres on January 25th next year.
Padmavati in Padmaavat
The story of Rani Padmini is something most Indian kids up North would’ve grown up listening to. It all began when in 1540 CE, Malik Muhammad Jayasi wrote a fictionalised version of the historical events in the Awadhi epic poem Padmavat. This paved the way for some many versions of the same story, some calling it an act of heroism and bravery while others think there’s nothing to be proud of. Rani Padmini, in order to protect her honour, committed Jauhar, the practice of self-immolation, before the barbaric Alauddin Khilji and his men entered the palace.
The film was made to show the fictionalised depiction but while Padmini did have to kill herself to avoid her “honour” getting tarnished, the film showed her as a strong woman with a brilliant mind when it came to rescuing her husband from Khilji. Deepika Padukone played the titular role and many believe it was the best she had ever played.
Mastani from Bajirao Mastani
Often known as the second wife of the Peshwa Bajirao, Mastani was the daughter of Maharaja Chhatrasal of Bundelkhand, Rajputana. History hadn’t written much of her except for her undying love and devotion to Bajirao. This was later made into a film that incidentally had real-life couple Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone play the lead roles. The film was a huge hit and focused on Mastani as a brave woman who isn’t afraid to declare her love for the Peshwa.
Rudhramadevi was a monarch of the Kakatiya dynasty in the Deccan Plateau from 1263 until her death. It is believed that she was one of the women to rule as monarchs in India and promoted a male image in order to do so. Known for her sprightly rule, unlike her Kakatiya predecessors, she chose to recruit as warriors many people who were not aristocratic, granting them rights over land tax revenue in return for their support.
The film was made in 2015 and had Anushka Shetty play the titular role. Not only was she impressive in her role but it also performed rather well at the box-office, giving male-centric films a run for their money.
She was a warrior and patriot who was known for leading an armed rebellion against the British East India Company in 1824. After the death of her husband and son, Chennamma took the task of taking of Kittur and ensuring that it doesn’t fall under the British rule. When the British started annexing the many princely states of India, she was one of the first people who resisted it. She defended her state for quite some time but, unfortunately, troops could not sustain the continued assault. Eventually, she was captured and imprisoned until her death.
The film was released in Kannada way back in 1961. B Saroja Devi played the titular character and drew accolades for her performance.