Are You A Supernatural Woman In A Bollywood Movie?, Film Companion

Are the full-moon nights making you feel a little bloodthirsty? Are your feet flexible to a degree that isn’t humanly possible? You might be a witch, or someone possessed by one, in a Bollywood movie. Hindi films about supernatural women aren’t new, but currently seem to be in vogue. Just look at recent releases Stree (2018), Pari (2018), Bulbbul (2020) and the upcoming Roohiwhich stars Janhvi Kapoor as a woman possessed by the spirit of a bride-abducting ghost. If you suspect that you too might be a supernatural woman in a Bollywood film, go through our checklist below and see what tropes apply to you:

Your tragic backstory involves some kind of betrayal

Bulbbul from Bulbbul (left) and Rukhsana from Pari (right).

If you’re a woman with supernatural powers in a Hindi movie, you most likely have some sort of tragic backstory. Take Bulbbul (Tripti Dimri) from Bulbbul (2020) — she’s tricked into marriage as a child, to an abusive man much older than she is, only to later be raped by his twin brother. Rukhsana (Anushka Sharma) from Pari (2018) is born to a woman who was raped by a demon, and is then chained to a remote rural hut for most of her life. The stree (Flora Saini) from Stree (2018) is killed along with her husband on their wedding night by jealous locals.

The tragic backstory is such a prerequisite for gaining supernatural powers that Chanchal (Bhumi Pednekar) from Durgamati (2020) even invents one to convincingly fake being possessed. When she pretends to be possessed by the spirit of the ancient queen Durgamati, she spins a tale of betrayal and revenge — the queen trusted a general in her army, only for him to steal her kingdom and push her to commit suicide in despair.

Don’t worry, you’ll meet precisely one kind man along the way

Arnab from Pari (left) and Vicky from Stree (right).

Bulbbul thinks she’s found her playmate and companion in her husband’s brother, Satya, only for him to display the same misogynistic streak as he does. Luckily, she befriends local doctor Sudip (Parambrata Chatterjee) who dotes on her completely while being fully aware that she’s hopelessly out of his league. Parambrata Chatterjee also plays the token kind man to a supernatural figure in Pari, when he rescues Rukhsana from a forest, brings her home and cares for her, despite her being literal demon spawn. In  Stree, Vicky (Rajkummar Rao) is unaffected by the stree’s spell by virtue of him being the only man in the village who looks her in the eyes with kindness.

Your strength lies in your hair

Stree (left) and Ek Thi Daayan (right).

Or to be more specific, your braid. Don’t cut it, or you’ll lose your strength, or worse, your life. In Stree, the mysterious woman (Shraddha Kapoor) steals the stree’s hair and attaches it to her own to acquire her powers. Diana (Konkona Sen Sharma), the witch in Ek Thi Daayan (2011), is only defeated when her long braid is cut off and she begins to disintegrate into dust.

All of your shenanigans take place at night 

Bulbbul (2020).

One of the myths surrounding Durgamati involves her killing her dissidents on full moon nights as a sacrifice to the local Goddess. In Stree, the men of Chanderi are advised not to roam the streets alone after 10 pm during the four days of an annual village festival because that’s when the witch strikes. She abducts them, leaving behind only a pile of their clothes. A witch in the Ek Thi Daayan universe is called a ‘raat ki raani’ and can only carry out her witchy work between 12 am and 4 am, which is why Diana is careful to leave the house of the man she’s been seeing well before that. To rejuvenate her dark magic, she sacrifices a child on the night of a blood moon. A lot of Bulbbul is staged against the light of a blood red moon, which is when the chudail seeks out and murders men who abuse and hurt women.

You have at least one great red outfit

Durgamati (left) and Stree (right).

What is it with supernatural women and the colour red? Is it meant to symbolize their bloodlust or thirst for revenge? Either way, the women of Stree, Bulbbul and Durgamati all sport red once they’ve completed their transformations.

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