OPINION: Kareena Kapoor, Tabu-Kriti Sanon's Crew's box office success proves 'women-centric films bhi chal sakti hai'

Kareena Kapoor Khan, Tabu, and Kriti Sanon are ruling the box office with their recently released movie Crew and that makes me revisit the plights and hopes of women-centric cinema in the Indian landscape.

Updated on Apr 08, 2024  |  06:14 PM IST |  71.3K
OPINION: Crew's box office success proves 'women-centric films bhi chal sakti hai' (Image: Pinkvilla)
OPINION: Crew's box office success proves 'women-centric films bhi chal sakti hai' (Image: Pinkvilla)

I remember reading Molly Haskell’s book From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies. Well, what she wrote in her critiquing 472 pages almost five decades back still seems to be relevant and unfortunately prevalent.

An excerpt of her book read, “In the dark melodramas of the forties, a woman came down from her pedestal and she didn’t stop when she reached the ground….. But for all her guts and valor, and for all her unredeemable venality…she hadn’t a soul she could call her own.”

This breaks my heart every time. Where cinema was supposed to be revolutionary and a medium to tell stories of the unseen and vulnerable world, it has all become a massy male-led two-hour-long reel of guns and male gaze who are obsessed with 1980s street-style popcorn drama.

I personally feel it is high time that Indian cinema needs to refind itself so that it can get rid of its possession with men and their footwork songs winning Oscars.

But, as I speak, I must not cry, but look at what is that one tape in this sinking boat.

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Crew winning hearts at box office

Bollywood actors Kareena Kapoor Khan, Tabu, and Kriti Sanon recently arrived in the theaters with their all-women ‘Crew’ and have earned over Rs 100 crore within 10 days at the box office. This might sound like a usual box office feat in today’s rush but it is actually a historic milestone for women in Indian cinema.

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When I look back, it has always been a rough patch for the ladies in the Indian film space. With massy stars and heavy stardom-driven male actors, female leads have mostly found themselves being just a side pickle on a plate. However, some did try hard but with the lame cinema dynamic, a bad box office number always decided the fate of a film. Thank god, Crew jumped that rope too.

Crew’s success is monumental and that’s how it makes me look back at other movies which contributed to the change we are yet to fully achieve.

A brief rewind at women in cinema

Back in 2012, actress Sridevi decided to return to Indian cinema after 38 years of hiatus, and that too with a story centered around her only. I was worried and so were all the cinema critics and audiences. Will she be able to pull it off, will it be a drastic end to her comeback or will she bounce back and rediscover her foot in the industry? And she did it.

English Vinglish became one of the superhits of that year and ruled the box office like anything. Reason? An actress of the finest mettle, a director who was brilliant at her craft (Gauri Shinde), and a story that weaved through every household’s heart - that’s the power of women in cinema.

A similar case happened last year (2023) with Rani Mukerji. The actress gave a striking blockbuster Mrs. Chatterjee vs Norway after four years of hiatus. The movie shattered records and put Rani in front again. Interestingly, she is one of those rare actresses of her time who fearlessly signed women-led movies without worrying whether they failed.

Be it the Mardaani franchise or Hichki, No One Killed Jessica or Paheli, Rani Mukerji has been unapologetically leading the women's force in cinema and how.

Now that we have talked about Crew, we can’t forget how despite some decent failures, Kareena Kapoor has also largely contributed to shaping the narrative around women. Remember her movie Heroine?


Forget the audience, Bollywood itself couldn’t accept the movie well because it attempted to indirectly unveil the dark side of showbiz. Bebo’s character became immortal and there was no looking back for the actress. Before that, Kareena also starred in films like Veere Di Wedding and Chameli where she was simply brilliant.

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Kriti for example is relatively new in the industry but has still done a woman-centric movie - Mimi and went on to win the Best Actress National Award for the same.

Is there a hope of change for the cinematic narrative that can create standing space for women in films?

There is, where female characters dominate the cinema, reshape the narrative, and earn the due of storytelling that is truly theirs - there’s a hope that I keep with myself.

Crew is flying high and there are more such movies in the loop. Kriti Sanon who recently ventured into production will soon arrive with her passion project Do Patti co-starring Kajol

“I wasn't getting such an opportunity for a while. I believe when you can't find an opportunity that excites you, you need to create one,” Kriti recently said about Do Patti and this is the most empowered actress I have ever heard.

Then in the pipeline next is Anushka Sharma’s Chakda ‘Xpress, Alia Bhatt’s YRF spy film (another woman-led film by the actress after her Gangubai Kathiawadi, Dear Zindagi, Highway and Darlings), Happy Teacher’s Day starring Radhika Madan and Nimrat Kaur and Mrs Falani led by Swara Bhasker.

A fate that I personally project similar to Crew is for Jee Le Zaraa, a film that is currently kept on the back burner and stars Katrina Kaif, Alia Bhatt, and Priyanka Chopra in the lead. I hope it comes to life soon and shows us the soulful sunset like the way Crew did (and more other women-led cinema would do).


“She was, in fact, a male fantasy. She was playing a man’s game in a man’s world of crime and carnal innuendo, where her long hair was the equivalent of a gun, where sex was the equivalent of evil. And where her power to destroy was projection of man’s feeling of impotence,” Molly Haskell wrote at the end of her book with a broken heart.

I hope those years may come that Molly heals out of her wounds, we rush to theaters to watch stories crafted by and for women and I write another opinion piece calling myself out for all these rants against the male-dominated cinema.

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I HOPE TO PROVE MYSELF WRONG.

ALSO READ: Kriti Sanon says producers need to invest in women-led films as much as they do for movies headlined by men

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About The Author

Aditya Sagar is an Entertainment Journalist who holds a true-blue Bollywood heart and has his ears tuned to the

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