International Day of the Girl Child, is observed globally on October 11, to increase awareness about gender inequality, equal access to education, nutrition, legal rights, medical care, and protection from discrimination, violence and forced child marriage. Bollywood has several managed to bring appropriate portrayals of girls from different walks of life.
The grassroots reality is however not very reassuring as the world over, gender based violence and discrimination continue to hit the headlines. Here is our list of films that you can watch to be aware of the resilience, strength and also the heartbreaking reality of being born a girl.
Secret Superstar: Does the latent talent of an ambitious daughter matter less than tradition and the warped notion of family honour? This 2017, Aamir Khan production and Advait Chandan Bollywood directorial, answers that question. The film tells us the story of a repressed daughter who shares her musical brilliance with the world but has to hide her true identity to escape the wrath of her father. A sequence of events makes her mother realise that the circle of oppression must be broken once and for all and her daughter must not sacrifice her ambitions to appease patriarchal impositions. The film stars Zaira Wasim in the lead with Meher Vij, Raj Arjun, Mona Ambegaonkar and Aamir Khan playing supporting roles.
The Sky Is Pink: This is an unforgettable story based on the life of Aisha Chaudharyan, an extraordinary young girl who died young of an incurable illness but left behind an indelible legacy of love and hope. It is also a tribute to a mother’s deathless love for her daughter. The Bollywood film presents a gentle counterpoint in a world where daughters are often considered less precious than sons and even killed in the womb. This story however showcases a mother’s valiant fight to save the life of a daughter who suffered from severe combined immunodeficiency and pulmonary fibrosis and could not live a normal life, from the time she was born. Written and directed by Shonali Bose and produced by Roy Kapur Films, RSVP Movies, and Purple Pebble Pictures, in association with Ivanhoe Pictures, the film starred Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Farhan Akhtar, Zaira Wasim and Rohit Suresh Saraf.
Ajji: Violation of marginalised girl children is commonplace and often hits the headlines and in many cases remains unreported. This Yoodlee production and Devashish Makhija directorial is a wrenching tale of the rape of a little girl in a slum and delienates the apathy of the justice system to her violation. The Bollywood film reminds us of similar cases that happen routinely and are forgotten quickly till another harrowing episode is reported. What makes the film different is the way the silent anger of a grandmother takes over the narrative and orchestrates revenge. The film reminds that every little girl has value and must be cherished and protected not just by her loved ones but the society in which she lives and the law that is meant to watch over her but often looks away. The film stars Sushama Deshpande, Sharvani Suryavanshi, Abhishek Banerjee, Sadiya Siddiqui, Vikas Kumar, Manuj Sharma, Sudhir Pandey, Kiran Khoje, and Smita Tambe.
Piku: Piku is a heartwarming study of father-daughter relationship and approaches it with irreverent tenderness. There is no saccharine formality and often the duo squabble over the nitty gritty of daily life and the aged father’s hypochondria. Directed by Bollywood director Shoojit Sircar and produced by N. P. Singh, Ronnie Lahiri and Sneha Rajani, the film starred Deepika Padukone as a stern, matter-of-fact young woman whose life revolves around the needs of her father. Amitabh Bachchan plays the controlling, self-absorbed father and Irrfan Khan, the bystander who observes this unusual relationship first with amusement and then with increasing interest. The film pays tributes to millions of devoted caregivers and daughters who ungrudgingly put their lives on hold to look after their parents. Moushumi Chatterjee and Jisshu Sengupta feature in supporting roles.
Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl: This 2020 Sharan Sharma directorial and Karan Johar production celebrates the inspiring trajectory of Gunjan Saxena, one of India’s first female air-force pilots in combat. The most extraordinary aspect of the Bollywood film is however the sensitive and tender nurturing extended by a father to a daughter who refused to conform to a safe life and took the chance to defy all odds to become a pilot. The film shows how patriarchy obstructs girls at every step and also how with just a little bit of encouragement, they can achieve the seemingly impossible. The film starred Janhvi Kapoor in the lead alongside Pankaj Tripathi and Angad Bedi.