In the light of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, many actors have come forth accusing the Hollywood mogul on alleged sexual offences, when the accusers were still looking to establish a place in the industry.
Household names such as Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan and Angelina Jolie among others have bravely raised their voice against such heinous act, breaking the stereotype of giving these abusers a second chance.
Female actors in the Indian film industry are no behind. They have been taking a stance against stereotypes and nepotism in Bollywood. They no longer play roles based on their pretty face or for the male protagonists’ muse. These stars instead, have begun working in versatile and powerful roles, casting themselves away from the idealistic homogenous supporting characters, they were once thought to belong to.
Stereotypes in Bollywood come in various forms, for instance the debate on having a comparatively darker skin or an issue of nepotism, which have been constantly faced by the Indian actors. These celebrities have been fearless when speaking up about societal taboos and women empowerment in a male-dominant society.
Showtime lists some of the women leaders in Bollywood who have been breaking the stereotypes, using not only their beauty but also their broad-minded views and outspoken attitude.
A veteran actress who has appeared in more than 120 Hindi and Bangla films, Shabana Azmi has been one of the pioneering idols of social activism in Bollywood. Her versatile roles and acting in unconventional projects has landed her with international recognition.
Shabana’s committed social activism, supporting child survival, fighting AIDs and injustice in real life, had initially drew scepticism, which she proved wrong to her critics. Instead, she used her celebrity status to promote social awareness.
A social and women’s rights activist, Shabana is also the Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA), which seeks to spread awareness about contraception and abortion in India in order to limit the country’s population.
Kangana Ranaut has always been the bold and outspoken celebrity in Bollywood, who has never shied away to stand by her opinions, especially when raising concerns about social taboos and gender discrimination. The actor has constantly raised the existence of nepotism in Bollywood. The Queen
actor has been vocal ever since her debut into the film industry, who has expressed concerns against sexism and continues to lead a fight against it.
A household name, actor Deepika Padukone broke the silence and stigma regarding depression, in accordance with her personal battle against the mental illness. The 30-year-old actress has used her personal experience to advocate social awareness against depression, hence has also started a foundation called “Live, Love, Laugh,” addressing the cause of mental ailments in India and focus on depression in particular.
According to World Health Organisation, India is the most depressed country, where more than 50 million people suffer from depression, while 30 million suffer from anxiety. In the light of such devastating numbers, foundations like this shall at least serve to tend to those suffering. Deepika dedicates this initiative to all those who have overcome such obstacle and spread awareness.
The “dusky” skinned 47-year-old actress promoted the “Dark in Beautiful” campaign in 2013 in India’s fair skin-obsessed society – a prejudice she says has driven some young women to the brink of suicide. When speaking out against the dark skin colour bias in India during an interview in September 2014, Nandita said: “Even in the [Indian film] industry when a makeup man or a cinematographer would come and say can you lighten your skin a little, especially when you are playing the middle class educated character.”
Nandita was also a Yale World Fellow in 2014, among 16 emerging global leaders who were chosen with the mission to cultivate and empower a network of globally engaged leaders committed to positive change through dialogue and action.
The “desi girl” from Bollywood, who can now be seen in mainstream Hollywood productions and on the ABC thriller series Quantico
, has been always been outspoken about issues related to women, irrespective of the risk of criticism. Priyanka has not only spoken of gender bias and discrimination in Bollywood, but has also addressed pay disparity and white washing in Hollywood.
Noted for her philanthropic work, Priyanka Chopra has worked with Unicef and was also appointed as the national and global Unicef Goodwill Ambassador for Child Rights in 2010 and 2016 respectively.
An actress who was quoted for not falling into the “conventional slot,” Vidya Balan has so far played versatile roles in the [Indian film] industry. Her unconventional portrayal in Bhool Bhulaiyaa
, The Dirty Picture
among others has brought her to appraising heights.
In addition, Vidya has been active in promoting humanitarian causes and supporting the empowerment of women. Although she had initially drawn criticism for her fluctuating weight and “questionable” dress sense, she was later credited for not changing herself to fit the social norm.