When Mahashivratri meets Women’s Day

Lord Shiva with Parvati. Photo: Free Images

This year, Mahashivratri and Women’s Day have both coincided today on March 8. And so perhaps, it is time to celebrate those powerful women and memorable entities with names that rank among the 108 names of Lord Shiva’s wife, Goddess Parvati, and have adorned Hindi cinema in multiple ways.

Parvati is a primordial goddess in Hinduism and the mother of the Hindu deities, Ganesh and Kartikey. Hindus consider her to be the divine energy between a man and a woman, like the energy of Shiva and Shakti. She also has several fearsome forms like Gauri, Durga and Kali.

She is also an embodiment of Shakti (Strength). In Shaivism, she is the re-creative energy and power of Shiva and her name is derived from Parvat, one of the Sanskrit words for mountain. She is the daughter of King Himavan, lord of the mountains and the personification of the Himalayas, and mother Menavati.

Aarya This is the name given to a faithful, wise friend. In the world of Hindi entertainment, it was selected for the title of the powerful web-series, with the title-role essayed by Sushmita Sen, who has given her career-best performance in its three seasons.

Shruti and Akshara, Kamal Haasan’s daughters, are both named aftre Gooddess Parvati, Photo: Publicity Photo

Akshara (and also Shruti) Haasan are the two daughters of Kamal Haasan and Sarika. Is it a mere coincidence that both are named after Parvati?

Aparna literally means one who lives without eating even leaves, and refers to a stage in the life of Parvati in which she had become an ascetic! Aparna Sen has been one of our most powerful actresses and directors and has traversed Bengali, English and Hindi cinema now for about six decades.

Bhairavi: In Hindustani music, Raag Bhairavi is said to be the queen of the Morning Raags. It produces a rich, devotional atmosphere, especially suitable for the genres of bhajan and the light classical form of Thumri. It was also the favorite Raag of composers Jaikishan and Laxmikant, among the greatest names in Hindi film music and has been frequently used by others from Naushad to Anu Malik.

Bhavani is ‘represented’ in cinema by well-known screenwriter Bhavani Iyer, writer, among other films, of women-centric aces like Black and Raazi.

Bharti or Bharati is also common: Bharti Achrekar is a formidable Hindi and Marathi film and television actress, while Bharati is a South Indian actress of Marathi origin who acted in multiple films, also in Hindi like Purab Aur Pacchim and Kunwara Baap.

Chitra is the name of the iconic South singer who spells it in the South as Chithra. In Hindi, she has sung in films like Roja, Love, Bombay, Tejaswini and Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon.

Gauri mean ‘pure and radiant’ and Gauri Shinde, writer-director filmmaker who happens to be R. Balki’s wife, has given us two potent movies on women: English Vinglish and Dear Zindagi.

Himani refers to ice, snow or frost and we have the redoubtable character artiste of that name: Himani Shivpuri.

Jaya, daughter of Daksh, is a name used often. Jaya Bachchan and with add-ons, Jayalalitha and Jayapradha are examples.

Two famous actresses of the 1950s to the 1980s, Nanda and Mala (Sinha) also have names that are among synonymous with this Hindu goddess. Coincidentally, these two actresses made it a habit at their starry peak to gladly star with new heroes and give them breaks or breakthroughs, among them being Shashi Kapoor, Rajesh Khanna, Biswajeet and Dharmendra!

Nirmala Devi was the name of the singer-composer who was Govinda’s mother and a big name in the 1940s and 1950s. She was married to actor Ahuja, who did not make it big.

Madhavi, also from the South, made her Hindi debut in Ek Duuje Ke Liye and went on to feature in hits like Andhaa Kaanoon and Vinod Khanna’s Satyameva Jayate.

Sandhya, V. Shantaram’s second wife, was the heroine in the majority of his movies in Hindi and Marathi, like Navrang, Do Ankhen Bara Hath, Jal Bin Machhli Nritya Bin Bijli and Pinjra. She even composed the steps of a dance she performed in Jal Bin… and after that the song’s music was scored!

Smriti (Irani nee Malhotra) is a powerhouse TV and film actress, who has gravitated to become one of our most potent and articulate Union Ministers.

Shobha Kapoor is the name of Jeetendra’s wife who, along with their daughter Ektaa, top-lines Balaji Telefilms, their mega-successful production house for over three decades now.



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