How Bollywood was feminist, even before the word came to India!

In the past decade, people have showered praises for films that spoke of gender equality and did not hesitate in being expressively feminist. It is also interesting to debate on movies that have manifested the long fought argument of how this is not just the men's world. While some hushed about the F-word, others wore it like a crown. Here are a few films that viewed the world from women’s lenses and didn't even announce that they were doing something special. Surprisingly, these films were made when Indians didn’t know much about feminism:

Duniya Na Mane (1937): If you have gotten a chance to watch this pre independence Indian film, it talked about women being free from the shackles of oppression. Even the idea of something as far-fetched as this back in 1937 may have sounded unusual for people. A young girl rebelling against being married off to a man much older than her even when the society found nothing wrong with it, spoke about an issue that women in this country continue to face still.

Guide (1965): This film shows how men can also be feminists. A man, tourist guide, supports a woman to pursue her dreams and not stick to her unhappy married life. After she finds her path, the man gets entangled in his own life, but doesn’t expect the woman to carry his baggage. This was a progressive narrative.

Arth (1982): When deserted by her husband, who cheats on her, a young lady leaves her house. Though, she had always dreamed to have a happy family, she now decides to find her true identity. The film made strong comments against normalising extra marital affair and urged women to not put up with something as wrong as this.

Mandi (1983): It is a tale of how a prostitute is expected to never fall in love while following a life full of restrictions, stigma and judgements. It also throws a light on how some women try to uplift other, while some choose not to.

Astitva (2000): It tells, how consequences can be different if a woman has an extramarital affair and then births a child from that relationship without her husband’s knowledge. This doesn’t encourage women to do so but explains society has different yardsticks of acceptance when it comes to men vs women.

Which other film do you think made such strong arguments way ahead of their time?