Top 10 Inspirational Women Characters From Bollywood

Updated: 02.04.2024

When life took a turn all of a sudden after the lockdown, days got busier, and balancing work and home was quite challenging. I had to take some inspiration to get things going and that is when I planned to look up some female-oriented films with inspirational female characters to whom I could relate. Certain movies influence us so much that they create a special place in our lives. Let’s check out the Top 10 Inspiring Women Characters In Bollywood who have touched a string in our hearts.

Top 10 Most Inspirational Women Characters From Bollywood Hindi Movies

Indian cinema has a strong legacy spanning decades and audiences have seen plenty of women-centric movies being created in every Indian language. Bollywood is no exception. There are plenty of strong female characters in Hindi movies who have left an indelible mark on the minds of audiences across the country. Here are some ceiling-smashing women characters to take inspiration from our very own Bollywood movies, who created magic and taught us that we are not alone.

1. Bindu (Smita Patil) In Manthan (1976)

Bindu (Smita Patil) In Manthan (1976)

When we think of strong female characters in Indian cinema, one iconic leading lady comes to mind – Smita Patil. The first thing that we remember when we think of the late actress is of course her striking luminous eyes and the charisma she brings to any character she plays. Bindu (Smita Patil) is the icing on the cake in the movie Manthan. A movie that talks about the white revolution and the setting up of the milk cooperative movement in a backward village in Gujarat is a must-watch if you want to experience the real essence of Indian village life. Bindu in Manthan is easily one of the most inspiring female characters in movies from Bollywood, thanks to Smitha Patil’s fiercely feminine portrayal and outstanding performance!

2. Pooja (Shabana Azmi) In Arth (1982)

Pooja (Shabana Azmi) In Arth (1982)

There’s one name that always makes it the list of famous female personalities in Indian film industries, and that name is Shabana Azmi. She dons several hats – actor, activist and ex-member of the Rajya Sabha. She is an inspirational person and it’s a trait that’s evident even in her films. Let’s take her role as Pooja in the 1982 film Arth, for which she even won the National Film Award for Best Actress. Pooja is surely one of the most powerful roles essayed by Shabana Azmi. She fits into the character and delivers a stellar performance, and surely holds a place among the 10 Bollywood female characters that inspired us. This movie speaks about infidelity and how Pooja deals with the extramarital affair between her husband, Inder Malhotra (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) and Kavitha Sanyal (Smita Patil). Pooja decides not to depend on any man and takes the tough choice of staying alone and being in charge of her life. She makes a decision to live independently by taking care of her maid’s daughter towards the end. A beautiful story where a woman’s life falls apart when her husband betrays her, and how she independently comes out of the mess created by people around her, with a very beautiful ending too! Arth is definitely one of the best Bollywood movies with a female lead!

3. Damini (Meenakshi Seshadri) In Damini (1993)

Damini (Meenakshi Seshadri) In Damini (1993)

Next on our list is one of the most legendary female movie characters in Bollywood – Damini. What a magnificent performance by Meenakshi Seshadri! An impactful story that portrays how women can support other women. The movie deals with the very sensitive issue of rape. The story characterises how Damini stood and fought for Urmi (Prajakta Kulkarni) the maidservant who was raped by her brother-in-law and his friends. Meenakshi Sheshadri gives a power-packed performance as she goes against her family to bring justice to Urmi. This is surely one of the classic inspiring movies with a female lead that reminds us that once women set their minds, anything is possible! So, if you’re searching for Hindi movies with power packed performances by Bollywood actresses, check out Damini!

4. Shashi (Sridevi) In English Vinglish (2012)

Shashi (Sridevi) In English Vinglish (2012)

One of my all-time favourite stars, the late actress Sridevi, has portrayed several strong-willed inspirational female movie characters in Indian cinema, be it in Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam or Kannada. One such movie is the 2012 movie, English Vinglish, where she played the character of Shashi to the fullest. Shashi is on our list of top 10 memorable female Bollywood characters for several reasons. She shows how to overcome obstacles through sheer determination and hard work. Her story also gives a strong message to respect homemakers and mothers at home. Sashi’s determination to learn English to earn back the respect of her children and husband was portrayed well by Sridevi, making her one of the top 10 Bollywood inspiring women characters. The story of English Vinglish explores the subject of family values in an extraordinary way, so yes, this movie is a must-watch with the family! 

5. Rani (Kangana Ranaut) In Queen (2013)

Rani (Kangana Ranaut) In Queen (2013)

Queen is one of the best Hindi movies with strong female characters. It’s a powerful story of self-discovery and self-love, which each one of us can relate to. Rani (Kangana Ranaut) portrays how to pick yourself up and brush off the dust during the hardest of times. The story portrays how Rani went on a honeymoon to Europe alone after her marriage was called off, and it also depicts how true friendship and motivation from people of different cultures help in gaining confidence. Kangana Ranaut is an inspiring Bollywood actress who has churned out some memorable characters through her acting. The movie starts with the lovely number “London Thumakda” and after that, it is a roller coaster you are sure to fall in love with Rani’s character in the movie Queen! 

6. Veera Tripathi (Alia Bhat) In Highway (2014)

Veera Tripathi (Alia Bhat) In Highway (2014)

Alia Bhat’s role as Veera deserves a place here in our list of the ten most powerful women characters in Bollywood. Long before she played Mafia queen Gangubai Kathiawadi, Alia proved her mettle in the 2014 film Highway. This movie is an all-time favourite because it portrays how important it is to speak up against patriarchy and child abuse. It is a very heart-touching story of two battered souls who enjoyed their liberation. Just like the tagline of the movie “In bondage, she found freedom”, Alia Bhat portrays that “if we are not safe outside, we are not safe inside our castles as well”. This is an inspiring character from Hindi films, that can be related to the society we live in. This film is a must-watch if you want to break free and enjoy the Highway!

7. Najma Malik (Meher Vij) In Secret Superstar (2017)

Najma Malik (Meher Vij) In Secret Superstar (2017)

Our quest for Bollywood movies with strong female characters brings us to 2017’s sleeper hit Secret Superstar. Najma Malik (Meher Vij) is the real “Secret Superstar” in the movie. Her sombre performance as the mother of Insiya Malik (Zaira Wasim) surely holds a place among the inspiring Bollywood female characters. Najma portrays the role of a victim of domestic violence, one that is faced by many women in society even to this day. The movie describes how a mother saved her daughter even before birth and encouraged her throughout because she saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Insiya is an amateur singer who wants to be a professional vocalist but is not supported by her father in the musical endeavour. Najma tries her best to protect her daughter and helps her in different ways to realise her dream. Well, if you are a fan of Aamir Khan, his role as Insia’s mentor Shakti Kumar is laudable. This movie emphasises mother-daughter bonding and sheds light on how a mother is always a pillar of strength! A heart-warming movie that will surely melt your heart, Secret Superstar is a prime example of how strong female characters in Bollywood movies can inspire people to follow their dreams!

8. Sulu Dubey (Vidya Balan) In Tumhari Sulu (2017)

Sulu Dubey (Vidya Balan) In Tumhari Sulu (2017)

Watch Tumhari Sulu if you want to witness the magic weaved by power packed female characters in Bollywood movies! Oh yes, this movie is worth a watch due to its heartwarming story. Sulu Dubey (Vidya Balan) relates to every middle-class housewife who wants to achieve their dreams and prove their worth to the family and society but faces backlash due to various reasons. The sensual “Helloo” by RJ Sulu has made a mark and broken the stereotypes. This movie is a big “Yes”, if you are looking out for some entertainment and inspirational female characters. Vidya Balan portrays a blend of comedy and emotion throughout this positive movie!

Tumhari Sulu was remade in Tamil as Kaatrin Mozhi (2018) with yet another iconic actress of the Indian film industry, Jyothika, playing the role of Sulu. You can check out more details about the Tamil version on Top 10s Only’s article that lists the top ten best Tamil movies of Jyothika.

9. Sehmat Khan (Alia Bhat) In Raazi (2018)

Sehmat Khan (Alia Bhat) In Raazi (2018)

“Ae Watan, Watan, Mere, Abad Rahe Tu”, well, this is the impact the movie Raazi has once you watch it, makes you hum this song! Alia Bhat’s solid performance makes this thriller spy movie a treat to watch! This movie talks about patriotism and the way Alia Bhat translated it on screen is commendable. Alia Bhat in Raazi is surely one of the top 10 inspirational female characters not to miss. Hidayat Khan (Rajit Kapur), an informant for the Indian Government, summons his daughter Sehmat Khan (Alia Bhat) to be a spy and marries her off to a Pakistani Army officer Iqbal Syed (Vicky Kaushal). The journey of how Sehmat dedicates herself for the benefit of her country kindles our patriotic spirit. Alia’s Sehmat Khan is truly one of the best Bollywood iconic characters played by women!

10. Prakashi Tomar (Taapsee Pannu) In Saand Ki Aankh (2019)

Prakashi Tomar (Taapsee Pannu) In Saand Ki Aankh (2019)

Age is no barrier to achieve! And nothing drives this point more than the famous women in Indian literature and films! Don’t miss watching the Revolver Dadhi and Shooter Dadhi played by Taapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar (Chandro Tomar) in the movie Saand Ki Aankh (Bullseye). This is a true-life story of two women, Prakashi Tomar and Chandro Tomar from Uttar Pradesh who made history by becoming the oldest sharpshooters in the world. A must-watch for kids and Dhadhis out there as these real-life characters are an inspiration and motivation, portraying the actual essence of women empowerment! If you are looking out for women-centric movies in Bollywood, don’t miss this.

 Get Inspired By The Top Ten Famous Indian Female Characters In Bollywood Films

Though I began watching these movies for inspiration and entertainment, when I started writing the reviews for each character, I realised how much I gathered from each one, be it patriotism, women’s empowerment, passion, talent, bravery, or courage. Each and every actress has put in their best to do justice to the character and translate them on-screen realistically. This is the list of the top 10 best female characters in Bollywood films that inspired me. Have you seen any of these movies? Do share your thoughts about it! Mail us at [email protected] if you can think of more inspirational movies with the most iconic female Bollywood characters!

Frequently Asked Questions About The Famous Female Characters In Bollywood

1. What is the message of the film English Vinglish?

Sridevi’s character Shashi is initially portrayed as a meek housewife, whose life is confined within her home. However, as the film progresses, she undergoes a transformative journey that sees her becoming more confident and assertive. She not only earns her family’s respect, she also inspires others to become more independent.

2. Is Raazi based on a true story?

Raazi is believed to be based on a true story that was the main plot of Harinder Sikka’s novel Calling Sehmat. Sehmat is a patriotic Indian who sacrificed her personal life to secure the lives of countless Indians during the 1971 Indo-Pak war. Her story is quite inspirational as it drives home the need to put country first above all else.

3. Is Saand Ki Aankh based on a true story?

Believe it or not, Saand Ki Aankh is based on the inspirational story of sharpshooters Chandro and Prakashi Tomar, who defied all odds to become champion shooters. 


  1. Wow, thats a great compilation of some of the best female characters in Bollywood!

  2. Awesome stuff???

  3. These are films that reveal the true strengths that define a woman! Kudos for this wonderful write-up!!

  4. Fantastic stuff.

  5. Beautifully written ? you should keep writing ❤️

  6. Beautiful, your writing can stir up readers feeling and make them feel something .The emotions are real. Best of luck .

  7. Great job Anita! Totally agree with your research.

  8. Awesome…. Great!!!!

  9. Pingback:Top 10 Popular Friendships In Indian History That Defied Boundaries

  10. Pingback:Top 10 List Of Inspiring Women In India | Indian Woman | Top10sOnly

  11. Pingback:Top 10 Best Jyothika Movies | Top 10s Only

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