Our Bollywood industry has always been considered as male dominated. Especially behind the camera, the helm has always been controlled by males. But the success of movies like ‘Main Hoon Na’, ‘Dhobi Ghat’, ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ have proved that women are now getting equally confident of working behind the camera as well as in front of it. Women have empowered Bollywood with their strong content oriented films. Let’s take a look at the women directors who have explored various genres from tragedies to thrillers to comedies to road films.
This trend is not new but goes way back to 1920’s when Fatema Begum who is considered to be the first female film director of India directed the film 'Bulbul-e- Paristan' that released in 1926 and became the first Indian film to be directed by a woman director.
Sai Paranjpye has given us films like 'Jadu Ka Sankh’, ‘Sparsh’, ‘Katha’, ‘Chashme Baddoor’ and has proved to everybody long ago that a movie’s genre has nothing to do with the maker’s gender.
The list is incomplete without the multitalented Aparna Sen. We can’t quite classify her as “Bollywood”, but she’s been a strong force behind India’s art cinema for a long time, with well-known films like ‘36 Chowringhee Lane’ and ‘Parama’.
Mira Nair may be the most internationally renowned director we have. A true storyteller, Mira has showcased films on a wide variety of topics, some representing India and some very mainstream Hollywood stories. She has directed films like ‘Salaam Bombay!’, ‘Monsoon Wedding’, ‘Mississippi Masala’, ‘The Namesake’, ‘Amelia’ and ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’.
Bollywood actress turned director Revathy also joined the bandwagon of women feature film directors in the mainstream circuit with an Indo-English film “Mitr - My Friend” which was followed by ‘Phir Milenge’, which dealt with HIV. This film put forward a story that showed the myths, mistakes and hypocrisy of the people reacting to people with HIV.
Next on the list is the daughter of famous lyricist and poet Gulzar and actress Raakhee, Meghna Gulzar. Meghna’s debut film as a director was ‘Filhaal’ with Tabu and Sushmita Sen. The movie’s plot involved surrogacy, which was way ahead of the times in Hindi Cinema. She also directed ‘Just Married’ starring Esha Deol and Fardeen Khan.
Writer, Director Reema Kagti has a style of her own, with class and substance. She belongs to the Farhan Akthar camp and has directed films like ‘Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd’ which was followed by ‘Talaash’ with ‘Mr. Perfectionist’ Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor and Rani Mukherjee.
Kiran Rao started as an assistant director to Ashutosh Gowariker and then she herself directed her first film ‘Dhoby Ghat’ in 2011. In a fiercely independent style, Kiran wrote and directed a film showing Mumbai and her protagonists in such a gentle, genuine way. ‘Dhobi Ghat’ was a big festival favourite.
One of Bollywood’s most well known choreographers of all time; Farah Khan’s directorial style is very similar to the elaborate item numbers that have stolen our hearts for years. Her films ‘Main Hoon Na’, ‘Om Shanti Om’ and ‘Happy New Year’, all have worked wonders at the box office.
Zoya Akhtar entered the director’s list by debuting with ‘Luck By Chance’ in 2009. She made a rocking comeback with her movie ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ which was followed by another blockbuster hit ‘Dil Dhadkne Do’.
Gauri Shinde has attained a status of one of the finest directors of the country. Mrs. Balki’s debut movie ‘English Vinglish’ was unanimously loved by the nation. She once again proved her talent with her recent film ‘Dear Zindagi’ which was again a big hit.
There was a time when Bollywood considered as male domain but now there has come a new class of women directors over the past few years who are making their presence felt with their powerful work and immense talent.