“The true strength of the country lies with its women.”
This statement from the new teaser for Salman Khan’s Sultan is an absolute fact, made undeniable by the first look at the film’s heroine: Aarfa.
The teasers and photos we’ve seen so far of Sultan have singularly shown Khan in the titular role as a champion wrestler, but Yash Raj films finally released Khan’s leading lady, Anushka Sharma. And boy, is she fierce.
Not much more is revealed in this teaser about the film as a whole — it seems Aarfa is a successful wrestler in Haryana herself and Sultan’s lady love — but it’s nice to see that while the focus will be pretty squarely on Khan, there will be an equally strong woman standing next to him.
What is the most striking moment in the teaser is not just how quickly and skillfully Aarfa takes down her male opponent in one of the teaser’s two wrestling impressive wrestling match snippets. It’s also that opening line. The fact that a major Bollywood film (and studio like Yash Raj Films) is making this statement about powerful women is a great sign.
Casting Anushka Sharma in this role is an equally positive sign as the actress has been a champion for better, stronger and more well-rounded roles for women in Indian cinema. She has taken on that responsibility herself as well by producing her own films that have strong female leads like her work on last year’s NH10.
Some press sites have stated that the Sultan teaser intro for Aarfa copies the style of a promo video for wrestler Geeta Phogat, and the similarities are obvious. But who cares? If a major Bollywood film like Sultan is actually willing to take inspiration from an incredible woman like Phogat, that should be celebrated as a step in the right direction for the industry, especially since Aamir Khan’s film Dangal, to be released later this year, focuses on Phogat’s career and her father/coach.
The teaser also doesn’t do the greatest job elaborating why women are the true strength of the country, instead stating that women are soft and strong all at the same time. It’s a rudimentary explanation, but viewers will hopefully gain some faith that the film will prove its words.
With all of this being said, perhaps Bollywood is slowly learning the very truth in “Sultan’s” statement: The country’s true strength does lie with its women. How about giving those very women their moments to shine?
Born in Texas, went to college in Missouri and now living in New York City, Keertana Sastry has a unique perspective on being Indian in different parts of America. Keertana has been working as both an entertainment, culture and lifestyle reporter, as well as a casting assistant for the film and TV industry. She loves to infuse her Indian heritage into her work and life.