India's Women Filmmakers: Crafting a Space of their own
BENGALURU: In a male dominated fiefdom of Bollywood, women find it really hard to make their mark. Two films directed by women have released this month; Baar Baar Dekho directed by Nitya Mehra and Island City directed by Ruchika Oberoi. While Baar Baar Dekho might not be doing so well at the box office, Island City has managed to catch eyeballs. Let’s take a look at some of the leading women filmmakers in Bollywood who have made their mark in spite of the numerous odds stacked against them.
Mira Nair: One of the leading lady directors from India, this new York based Indo-American filmmaker has made some really good offbeat movies, which include Oscar nominated Salaam Bombay, Mississippi Masala, The Namesake, and Golden Lion winning Monsoon wedding. Most of her films have tried to delve into the lives of ordinary Indians, and they cater to an international audience. Her film, Salaam Bombay featured on the list of ‘1000 Best Movies Ever Made’, compiled by the New York Times. The 2006 film, The Namesake, which had Tabu and Irrfan Khan in the lead roles, was also well received by the critics.
Zoya Akhtar: The world came to know about this talented director and screenwriter after the release of her debut film, Luck By Chance, where she cast her brother Farhan Akhtar in the lead role. Then came Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara in 2011, with a multiple cast, which did well at the box office and won her the Filmfare Award for Best Director. Her last project was Dil Dhadakne Do which released in 2015, which was shot on a luxury cruise. While her films have done well at the box office, a constant criticism that she has faced is that her films cater to an elite audience. Putting an end to all the speculation and criticism, her next project is said to be based on Mumbai’s street rappers.
Deepa Mehta: Director of some of the critically acclaimed films like Midnight’s Children, Earth, Fire, Water, and Bollywood/Hollywood is best known for her non-commercial brand of cinema, which deals with controversial topics. Even being non commercial in nature, her films have stood out because of their strong content. Mehta is also the recipient of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, which is the highest honor for performing arts in Canada.
Farah Khan: One of the first commercial women directors to challenge the hegemony of male directors in Bollywood, Farah Khan, is well known for her lavish sets, dance numbers, big budgets and high octane masala movies. While the Shah Rukh Khan, Sushmita Sen multi-starrer, Main Hoon Na, was her directorial debut, Khan has also directed Om Shanti Om, Tees Maar Khan and Happy New Year. Almost all her previous films starred Shah Rukh Khan in the lead and have done well at the box office. However, her next film, which is yet to go on floors, will be a female oriented one.
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