Gully Boy’s Safina Is the Feminist Heroine We Need

“Safina’s feminism is undeterred & unadvertised. She doesn’t need to fit into the cliche of an urban Indian woman.”

Updated
Gender
2 min read
Safina, played by Alia Bhatt, is an ambitious and headstrong character.
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Although ‘Gully Boy’ is plugged with powerful performances, it’s only good in fleeting moments, like wisps of smoke if you manage to catch them. While some scenes depicting the glaring class divide tug at your heartstrings, others footslog clumsily and fail to inspire strong emotions.

But Gully Boy's Safina, played by Alia Bhatt, is pure magic.

Safina is the feminist heroine Hindi films have long needed.

She is ambitious, headstrong and loves with fierce conviction. Every day, she rebels against the patriarchy and the shackles that her own family have constrained her with, albeit out of love.

She flouts rules with much valour and wit, for her career and for her partner. There is no bringing her down, for she always knows what she wants. Even in distress, she is no damsel, but a destroyer; and in times good-or-bad, she is the Gully Boy's backbone.

For the longest time, Bollywood and even Indian (web/telly) shows have tried to depict emancipation and liberation of women by showing drunk girls lathered in pixie dust, smoking cigarettes and talking, thinking or having sex.

And sure, I’m all for consensual sex and freedom to drink and dress as you please, I’m just not sure how that, as an archetype of feminism, holds water.

Feminism – More Than a Cliche of Urban Indian Woman

Besides, more than once, I’ve seen these supposedly feminist films dissolve into a pathetic ‘Do I Love Guy A’ or ‘Do I Love Guy B’ dilemma, aka a sob story of frivolity.

Feminism, therefore, is not limited to the tequila shots that a woman can down. It lies in the corners of domestic existence, in your home, in your hearth; in Safina's brave announcement to her strict parents that she would start being honest with them if they let her go out for films and speak to boys; in her begging her father to let her finish her education; in her confidence; in how she effortlessly takes matters (of concern or otherwise) in her own hands every single time.

Safina’s full-clothed feminism is undeterred, unadvertised and unfettered. She doesn’t need to fit into the cliche of an urban outgoing woman. All she needs is her own practice, and may be, permission from her parents to wear a lipstick.

So full marks to Zoya Akhtar for giving us a true heroine who needs no man, but wants and loves her man unabashedly. Also, my personal thanks to Alia Bhatt for making possessive sexy again. After all, "Mere boyfriend se gulugulu karegi toh dhoptungi hi na ussko.”

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