Lasyapriya Sundaram (BOMBAY TIMES; April 2, 2017)

Vidya Balan is back with another powerful role that breaks norms and crosses boundaries. Playing the title role of Begum Jaan in Srijit Mukherji's Hindi adaptation of Rajkahini, the film narrates the story of a brothel located on the newly-chalked out India-Pakistan border, following the Partition in 1947. The story reverberates another underlying theme - overthrowing patriarchy.

Elaborating on it, Vidya, who plays the title role (essayed by Rituparna Sengupta in the Bengali version), told BT, “You could say that Begum Jaan is trying to overthrow patriarchy. She is unapologetically powerful and consummate. She doesn't need anyone. She has a past with the Raja (Naseeruddin Shah), which you see glimpses of. So, even if she is shorn of everything, she will stand tall. I think that is incredible. Begum Jaan is not over throwing patriarchy intentionally, but if it's getting overthrown, so be it.“

When asked about the dismal involvement of women in the decision-making process during Partition, Vidya says, “The country never belonged to women. We were second class citizens. You could belong to any race, caste, class and religion, but men decided, and they were in control, which is why Begum Jaan, being powerful in that context, gives her character meaning and makes her larger than life.“