As film becomes more progressive, it's exciting to see the Indian film industry taking a risk by speaking about issues that society has deemed as controversial or taboo. In the movie Kapoor and Sons, we saw the struggles of a closeted man to seek acceptance from his mother. Gay characters have graced Indian screens before, but rather than being portayed as outlandish and flamboyant or simply being used as comedy relief, this time we see the LGBTQ+ community represented through a talented journalist with a passion for spreading art. Movies have also been tackling gender roles for the last couple of years. In the new release Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, Anushka Sharma's character is shielded and confident, while Ranbir Kapoor's character is more feminine and emotional. In the Telugu movie Pelli Choopulu, the female lead is a business minded hardworker. Sadly, she cannot seem to gain her father's approval, until the male lead explains to him that gender does not determine success and that his daughter is more than capable of supporting their family.
Just a few days ago, the highly anticipated biographical sports film, Dangal, was released. The movie outlines two sisters, Geeta and Babita Phogat, on their journey to win a gold medal in international wrestling. Their father, Mahavir Singh Phogat, a former wrestler, is unable to do so himself and decides that his son will fufill his dream. When he has four daughters but no sons, he is discouraged until he realizes that his daughters are more than capable of becoming pro wrestlers and that "gold is gold." The movie addresses the very issue that we feel so strongly about, the idea that women are nothing but a burden on their families. When Geeta and Babita feel that the training is too harsh and ultimately a form of punishment from their father, an eye opening conversation with one of their young friends who becomes a bride at 14, changes their mindset completely. She explains that what their father is doing is out of love and that they are fortunate to have someone who sees potentional in them rather than viewing them as something to simply get rid of when the time comes. Despite the dismissive and mocking remarks from the people in their village, the girls train extremely hard and make their way up to the national team. The night before Geeta's final round in the 2010 Commonwealth Games, her father reminds her that she must win not only for herself, but for every girl in India who is seen as inferior to boys. Geeta and Babita were not only able to open up the minds of the old fashioned families in their village, but were able to encourage a new group of girls to break social barriers and take up wrestling. It's too often we keep girls from fulfilling their full potential. By excluding them from certain jobs or deeming them unfit to play certain sports, we only further the gap that society has created between young boys and girls. Dangal is truly inspiring as it tells a story of overcoming social and physical obstacles, and how male or female, anyone can tackle their goals if they put in the work.