When we discuss top directors or dependable directors of Bollywood, the most commonly considered names are Karan Johar, Aditya Chopra, Rajkumar Hirani, SS Rajamouli, Rohit Shetty, Imtiaz Ali, Kabir Khan, et al. If one were to look at the names, we would notice that there is no mention of any female director in the list. To this, the regular response would be that Bollywood is a very male dominated industry, our biggest names either an actor or a director, continue to be that of men.
Predominantly an industry in which a director is always considered as a megaphone-wielding man, women are now making a mark. Female filmmakers of yore like Sai Paranjype, who have made commercially viable movies like Chashme Badoor, are typecasted as ‘indie filmmakers’. Despite the critical acclaim and public adulation, women filmmakers like Mira Nair, Tanuja Chandra, Deepa Mehta, Aparna Sen, Kalpana Lajmi and et al, have been confined to the brackets of arthouse, indie or socialist cinema.
Today, however, the times they are changing, and we have female filmmakers challenging the very notion and successfully smashing it. Farah Khan is one of the most commercial and popular director of B-Town today; she boasts a fabulous track record and a history of working with A-listers and has given us one of our best actress. Though people may slam her cinema, call it commercial and brainless entertainment, we all are guilty of watching it, and enjoying it.
Today, we have so many female directors who have given us memorable movies like, Zindagi Naa Milegi Dobara by Zoya Akhtar, English Vinglish by Gauri Shinde, Talvar by Meghna Gulzar, Margarita With A Straw by Shonali Bose, and the recent release, Nil Battey Sannata by Ashwini Iyer Tiwari. Each of the mentioned directors has successfully managed to carve out their own niche, and break-free of the titles like ‘indie’ or ‘social’ filmmakers. While they continue to make real and slice-of-life cinema like Nil Battey Sannata, English Vinglish or Margarita With A Straw, we also have commercially successful cinema coming from them in the form of Zindagi Naa Milegi Dobara, Happy New Year, Talaash and Talvar.
Today, the success of a film is not necessarily the responsibility of an actor, the script also plays a vital role and is instrumental in driving the film's fate. But, avid cinema-goers today have started recognizing the director too, and the gender lines are rapidly blurring. As long as a particular director's body of work appeals, the gender becomes inconsequential. The thin line of sexism in Bollywood is blurring and paving the way for a fulfilling future of female filmmakers in Bollywood.
With many women-helmed all set to release in the coming future, the times are indeed looking good!