Sheroes: 25 Daring Women of Bollywood | Deepa Gahlot | Book Review

Sheroes Deepa Gahlot

SUBJECT: 3.5/5

“Going by a majority of Hindi films produced over the years, it would be hard to believe that women in India have progressed at all. Although it is also true that the women in cinema have happily discarded the sari for a stringy bikini and prefer to shimmy on an “item number” than sing a bhajan (devotional song), the mindset remains stuck in the past. What is most surprising is while the educated and empowered woman is busy shattering the glass ceiling in almost every field, Hindi filmmakers, but for a few exceptions, fail to acknowledge the fact.”
~ Deepa Gahlot, Sheroes

My Musings

If I look at my recent reads, my current reading preferences are surely a little tilted in favour of nonfiction. Last month I read a lot of nonfiction and this month too, the count has been a generous one.

Going by the trend, I can surely say that I am happy about this progress. I have always been a nonfiction lover and to be able to finally read a good deal of them is something that has always been a farfetched dream. Well, not anymore!

Not too long ago, I saw Deepa Gahlot’s Sheroes in the Kindle Unlimited section and one look at the blurb was enough for me to pick it up.

As I sat reading it, I soon realized how little I watch Bollywood movies and how much lacking I am in Bollywood gyaan.

I also realized something very important, which the book vehemently suggests too – that Bollywood’s treatment of ladies has been far from ideal. Barring a few recent movies, most of the movies in Bollywood use actresses in mere ornamental roles.

Now that is disturbing! But more about that later.

It is time to review this book Sheroes. Read on to know more about my thoughts on this exceptionally well written book.

What to expect?

Sheroes is a book not just for movie lovers but also for feminists. Having said that it is not what we call a propaganda book. It is just a simple and honest attempt to decode Bollywood’s treatment of its leading ladies and in the process to appreciate some of the greatest female characters that we ever saw on the silver screen.

The book takes us through a roller coaster ride that has been the journey of female characters in Bollywood.

A theme that is both popular and relevant

What Bollywood showcases mirrors the society but more often than not what Bollywood showcases shapes the society.

If used correctly, movies definitely have the power to drive opinions and bring about social reforms. How women characters are treated impact (at least in some way) how they are viewed by society. Hence the need to voice such opinions about the importance of including such characters in our films.

What about the author’s writing style?

I am what one would call a “Bollywood noob”. The number of yesteryear films that I’ve seen can actually be counted on one hand.

Sheroes, however, is written in such a way that makes it very easy for a beginner like me to get into old movies and that too movies with important female roles.

Deepa Gahlot makes use of simple and easy to understand language. She also supplies the reader with a good amount of Bollywood trivia on the go. Her writing is easy and effortless and makes for a quick but comfortable read.

How is it structured?

The book has a short foreword by notable film director Farah Khan which is then followed by a quick introduction by the author.

The main content of the book is an anthology of 25 of the most iconic female characters of Bollywood over the years. Some of the notable mentions include Rosie in Guide, Mahjubi in Saudagar, Shanichari in Rudali, Krishna in Ishqiya, Ketki in Mrutyudand, Pooja in Arth etc.

What I liked?

What I really liked about the book is the fact that it doesn’t feature a lot of famous female characters. It takes a very honest and feminist point of view here. It says that over the years the female characters that have been most revered are the ones in which women are shown as the sufferers of great pain.

On the contrary, in this book, Deepa vows to show us the characters that are revolutionaries in their own way. They break socio-political barriers choosing their own lifestyle/partner/career and basically live life the way they want to.

That’s probably the reason why you’ll find some unconventional mentions like Meghna in Dil Se, also featuring in this book.

It all boils down to the entertainment quotient

Sheroes is a book that is entertaining on account of its content.

I am not a big Bollywood fan myself, but reading this book made me discover some hidden gems that I would have never heard of otherwise.

I guess the coming days will see me catching up on a lot of old Bollywood films recommended in this book.

Sheroes is to the point, fast paced, quick to read and is high on entertainment quotient.

Pick up the book

  • If you enjoy nonfiction.
  • If you are a feminist and feel strongly about how women are portrayed in popular culture.
  • If you enjoy books on and about Bollywood.

Skip the book

  • If you don’t enjoy nonfiction.
  • If reading about Bollywood or its many films is not your idea of nonfiction.

Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of Sheroes using the link below.


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