In an industry, infamous for forgetting those who once shone in its light, it can be quite difficult to regain your footing post a sabbatical. However, some uniquely talented actresses proved that they fight the odds not only in their films but also in real life.
Listed here are seven leading ladies of Bollywood who correctly demonstrated what ‘feminism’ is by choosing their own paths in both, their personal and professional lives:
1. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan- Jazbaa
She broke a million hearts when she married Abhishek Bachchan in 2007 and another couple of millions when she took a 5-year long sabbatical post her 2010 release, Guzaarish. The blue-eyed beauty returned to Bollywood with her action thriller, Jazbaa, in 2015. The film saw her play a successful lawyer who is forced to defend a criminal to save her kidnapped daughter. Sounds like the perfect script for the new mom, right? Wrong. The film tanked at the box-office, although Aishwarya’s performance was lauded by both, critics and audiences.
2. Tabu- Life of Pi
She not only mesmerised the Hindi-film watching audience but also Telugu, Malayalam, Tamil, Marathi, and Bengali film fans. The National Award winning actress took a break from mainstream films post her highly-acclaimed performance in the movie Cheeni Kum which released in 2007. Her first “comeback” was in 2010 with the film, ‘Toh Baat Pakki!’ which didn’t do well commercially. Weak scripts and bad direction didn’t do justice to Tabu’s acting prowess and led to another hiatus which ended with the highly-acclaimed film, Life of Pi. Fans greeted her next in her 2014 commercial film, Jai Ho, opposite Salman Khan. Post that; she has continued to star in critically acclaimed films such as the Shakespearean adaptation of Hamlet, titled Haider.
3. Kajol- Fanaa
For her millions of fans across the globe who were used to watching Kajol’s flawless acting on screen, the years 2002-2005 were uneventful. The immensely talented actress put a pause on her acting career post Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham in 2001 to focus on her husband and raising a family. Thankfully, Kunal Kohli’s script for Fanaa was enticing enough for Kajol to want to return to acting. The film released in 2006 to great fanfare and Kajol once again joined the league of most sought-after actresses in Bollywood.
4. Madhuri Dixit- Aaja Nachle
From Delhi to Denver, Mrs Madhuri Dixit- Nene stunned her fans with her smile. With a great career spanning almost two decades to her name, the dancing queen took a huge risk moving base to the U.S with her surgeon husband post her 2002 cult film, Devdas. A new identity as a wife and mother awaited her, and U.S.A became her home… until 2007 when she returned to acting with a film that appeared to be tailor-made for her- Aaja Nachle. Since then, Madhuri has appeared on TV shows, advertisements, and films.
5. Juhi Chawla- Gulaab Gang
She never actually left Bollywood, but the audience hadn’t seen her in a leading role since her 2007 films- Swami, and Salaam-E-Ishq. Thanks to Anubhav Sinha, the world got to see the lovely actress in a rustic avatar in the 2014 film, Gulaab Gang, opposite another megastar- Madhuri Dixit. Delivering a commendable performance, Juhi Chawla showed that she still was the leading lady when she wanted to be!
6. Sridevi- English Vinglish
The epitome of grace, Sridevi is the stuff of legends. She was conquering the film scene in the South as well as Bollywood when she got married and decided to leave the very demanding film scene to focus on her family life. Her last films of the 90s before the start of her almost 15-year long hiatus were Judaai, and Kaun Sachcha Kaun Jhootha, both of which earned her critics approval.
Succumbing to a good script and her love for acting, Sridevi returned in a new avatar to the big screen in Gauri Shinde’s directorial, English Vinglish. If the new generation hadn’t seen her previous films, they sure did after watching her powerful performance in this 2012 film!
7. Amrita Singh
Another big name that never really left the film industry but whose cameos and supporting roles in TV shows and films made us want more, Amrita Singh left Bollywood in 1993, two years post her marriage to dapper actor, Saif Ali Khan. Putting her family first, Singh did not return to the big screen until 2003 with the movie Shaheed. She made quite a few notable appearances in films like Kalyug, Shootout at Lokhandwala, Aurangzeb, etc. over the past decade. However, the film that counts as her comeback is the 2014 romantic-drama, 2 States, where she effortlessly played the role of a loud Punjabi conservative mother. Holding the same promise that she showed the audience in the 80s and 90s, Singh has a few films in her kitty.
Truly, these seven actresses have shown the world that feminism is not all about having a successful career but making decisions that empower them as a wife, mother, and other roles they take up in life… Real-life heroines, anyone?