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Trailblazing narratives that demolished stereotypes in 2023

Trailblazing narratives that demolished stereotypes in 2023

These stories boldly explored unheard themes and bravely pushed the thematic envelope

As 2023 comes to a close, a retrospective look at the compelling content that graced both the silver screen and OTT platforms reveals diverse narratives emphasizing the need to embrace a more inclusive world. These films and web series not only entertained audiences but also ignited meaningful conversations about societal change. From dynamic duo Arjun and Kartk’s ‘Taali,’ based on the life of transgender activist Gauri Sawant, to hitmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s ’12th Fail,’ depicting the highly inspirational life story of Manoj Kumar Sharma; here is an overview of some of the trendsetters of the year.

Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani

This film, within the framework of commercial cinema, explored gender equations, oppressive family narratives and a love far removed from the often regressive values of director Karan Johar’s debut film, ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.’ A Durga Puja celebration where two men perform the ‘Dola Re’ song, a lingerie store where the hero is schooled to accept women as equal human-beings, a grandmother who finds love again, a heroine who won’t be intimidated and a hypermasculine hero who unlearns sexism are just some of the moments that made this film so clutter-breaking. This film represents Johar’s deliberate attempt at more nuanced storytelling. Starring Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt, Dharmendra, Shabana Azmi and Jaya Bachchan, the film is now available on Amazon Prime.


As stated by the dynamic duo Arjun and Kartk in various media interactions, when they chose to make a series based on transgender activist Shreegauri Sawant’s life, they were aware of the challenges ahead. However, the series and its resounding success has vindicated their faith not only in the project but also in the decision to cast Sushmita Sen in the titular role. The web series not only became one of the most-watched Indian OTT offerings but also mainstreamed an awe-inspiring tale that has never been heard before. The show also cast hundreds of trangender persons in the cast and with great sensitivity portrayed the heartbreak and strife that all LGBTQ individuals go through in our society. Directed by Ravi Jadhav and backed by a superb performance by Sushmita, ‘Taali’ is available for streaming on JioCinema.

Dhak Dhak:

A road film about self-discovery and rekindling the dormant passion for living, ‘Dhak Dhak’ breaks many stereotypes. Rarely have we ever seen a Hindi film without a male lead, or a woman biker in a hijab, a grandmother dreaming of riding her bike to the highest motorable pass in the world or a journey where four women are the heroes of their own stories. This Tarun Dudeja directorial tells a refreshing and empowering tale showcasing the strength and resilience of four unique women with striking performances from Ratna Pathak Shah, Dia Mirza, Fatima Sana Shaikh, and Sanjana Sanghi. The non-linear way of storytelling, blending adventure and humour along with stunning visuals by Sreechith Vijayan Damodar, makes ‘Dhak Dhak’ a not-to-be-missed experience. The film is available on Netflix.

12th Fail:

Based on the book by Anurag Pathak about the real-life story of Manoj Kumar Sharma, who overcame extreme poverty to become an IPS officer, this sleeper hit stars Vikrant Massey in the title role. At a time when big-budget films are ruling the box-office and many hyped projects have flopped, veteran filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra has given the audience a small-budget film with a big heart. Completely avoiding melodrama and focusing on one man’s courage to defy all possible odds to realise his dreams, the maker has offered an aspirational film to millions of youth navigating their own personal challenges. Scripted by the director himself, the movie scored big at the box office, powered by positive word of mouth buzz. It is now available on Zee5.


The remarkable success of Atlee’s ‘Jawan’ can be attributed not only to SRK’s star power and dynamism but also to the seamless balance struck between personal, political, and social themes. Director Atlee, an associate of director Shankar known for making commercial potboilers woven around socially relevant themes, follows a similar approach here. The film, though an out-and-out commercial action flick, also hints at contemporary issues such as loan waivers for billionaire industrialists and the privileged class, the dismal state of government hospitals, corruption in Défence deals, and industrial pollution. It also underscores the power of democracy. ‘Jawan’ is streaming on Netflix.