Girls with Guns in Indian Subcontinent Cinema

By Pete Y.

Part 1 - A very quick introduction: When I first volunteered to do an article for this site I decided to try and add to Brian's range of genres by mixing the "Girls with Guns" genre so beloved of HK film fans with films and actresses from the Indian Sub Continent (forthwith called ISC).  I came equipped with a large variety of source material but quickly found myself forcing film into genre rather than covering the specific genre itself. The reason for this became quickly evident - there isn't an easily identifiable girls and guns genre from the region. However, reluctant to admit defeat, here is the results of my ponderings and musings. I hope to show that even though you are never going to get a Moon Lee, Michiko Nishiwaki or Yukari Oshima from the Bollywood film industry there are still certain patterns which show women do on occasion get bad girl and gun girl roles.

The first thing to mention is that the movie poster, publicity stills and lobby cards do much to "sell" a film in India, that and a star name and maybe a good song or three. Like many films from the area it doesn't really matter if the attendant publicity is accurate to the contents of the film itself, if it looks good it gets used.

The main barrier to progress with GWG films on the subcontinent is that in general films which portray powerful women are normally box office poison and certainly no actress is going to focus on these few roles if she has any interest in pursuing a career in Bollywood. These rules generally apply throughout the region with the notable exception of Urdu (Lollywood/Pakistan) films where the gun toting heroine and anti-heroine is very common.

In the next few pages I hope to cover quite a lot of ground. Hopefully there will be some coherence to it but no guarantees.

1. Early days and a Brief History (Genre to the 1980's).

2. Revenge is sweet - the Bandit Queen syndrome.

3. Molls, Vamps and Bad Girls.

4. Police Tales.

5. Lollywood

6 Other Regional Cinema

7. Near Equality and Final thoughts.

All written material copyrights by Pete Y. (2008)