Women’s Day: Married off at 14, a mother at 21, how this woman survived the streets to become a Bollywood stuntwoman

This is the story of how Geeta Tandon ran away from an abusive marriage at the age of 21, and became a stuntwoman in Bollywood. She is now an integral part of Shell’s ‘Great Things Happen When We Move’ campaign that celebrates the indomitable spirit of Indians.

As a stunt double for many famous actors in Bollywood, Geeta Tandon is clearly living life on the edge. That’s how it has always been for this stuntwoman, who faced the vagaries of life at every turn, to become a winner.

She plays with fire, does deep-sea diving, performs dangerous stunts on cars and bikes, and yet says she wears her small injuries like awards. Tthe emotional trauma she has faced in life is perhaps what gives her physical strength. As the saying goes, “What cannot kill you, will make you stronger.”

Image Credit: Geeta Tandon's Instagram page

A profession that came at the right time

Married at the age of 14, she became a mother before the age of 21. She faced brutal domestic violence, and at the age of 20 finally managed to break free of her husband’s clutches and run away to Mumbai.

“Having never worked before, I had no idea how I was going to survive on the streets. There was no choice for me. I never thought of taking this profession. It just came to me at the right time. There was a time in my life when I desperately needed work and money for myself and to support my family. I didn’t have a proper higher education, so I took what life gave to me,” she says.

Geeta’s children were too young when she started the job. She says it was heart-wrenching for her to lock them up at home and go to work as there was no one to look after them.

Her first stunt assignment was in Ladakh, which involved her being set on fire.

“As my burns healed, so did my spirit. And then there was no looking back. I kept moving forward to become who I am today. I have done all kinds of stunts with cars and bikes et al. I feel like my life is a stunt and I am doing so well. I am really happy with my work and where I am today,” she adds.

A sense of relief and freedom

Image Credit: Geeta Tandon's Instagram page

Being independent as a stuntwoman came as a sense of relief and freedom.

“Yes, there are dangers, but every time I go for a stunt, I pray to God and hope to do my best in one and only take. My injuries are proof I am moving ahead and emerging out of challenges. Women have been struggling to make a mark for ourselves in the society for ages, so what are these little dangers in front of all of that? Nothing! My real fear is what if I don’t have the job that I have today! There is no point in fearing anything. Forget your fears and move forward. We can do anything,” she says.

Being a male-dominated field, there were many people who doubted her capability of performing stunts. Many said that a woman should not take up a job as dangerous as her, but she didn’t let those opinions deter her. She kept on moving forward, challenging, and proving herself with her actions.

Geeta Tandon is part of Shell’s latest campaign, Great Things Happen When We Move, to celebrate the indomitable spirit of Indians, their dreams, and aspirations along with their inspiring journey. She is also happy that her children are now mature enough to understand the rigours of her profession.

“I hope to inspire more women with my journey. I feel like I have got wings now and I feel free, I can fly. I might not be a lead in a movie, but I feel like a hero today, thanks to Shell India for that. It is a beautiful feeling and I hope that more and more women break all barriers that come their way, move forward and fulfil their dreams, because Great Things Happen When We Move. I wish to continue in the same field and inspire women across the country to face their challenges, emerge victorious out of them and make a future for themselves,” Geeta says.

Edited by Megha Reddy


Updates from around the world