Wonder Woman released in the United States, last year in June, to great acclaim and was a huge box-office success. It was a shot in the arm for women filmmakers not only making good films but raking in the moolah too. Its director, Patty Jenkins, is back at the helm of the Warner Brothers’ Wonder Woman 2.
Closer home, what was once a male-dominated industry has in recent times seen more women getting behind the camera. They are bringing a fresh perspective with a diversity of mind-boggling concepts.
There was a time when there were only a few women filmmakers in Indian cinema like Aparna Sen and Deepa Mehta. Today cinema is riding on the wave of new-generation women directors like Zoya Akhtar and Konkona Sen Sharma. The future, we feel, is definitely female.
Here is a list of eight women filmmakers who are challenging the status quo, and redefining Indian cinema.
Aparna Sen is an Indian actor, filmmaker and screenwriter who is popularly known for her work in Bengali cinema. This twice-National Award winner made her directorial debut with 36 Chowringhee Lane, produced by Shashi Kapoor. She achieved consistent success with path-breaking films like Sati, Mr. and Mrs. Iyer, The Japanese Wife, and 15 Park Avenue, among others. Two National Awards for 36 Chowringhee Lane and Mr. and Mrs. Iyer makes Aparna Sen the most highly decorated woman filmmaker of our times.
An Indian-origin director and screenwriter, Deepa Mehta is best known for her Elements trilogy films - Fire, Earth, and Water. Dealing with a range of topics from homosexuality to patriarchy, to communal strife, to misogyny, to ill-treatment of widows, her films have been described as ‘breathtaking’ and ‘courageous’. Deepa has received numerous awards and accolades over the years including an Oscar nomination. Her films have been screened at many international film festivals and distributed across the globe.
Daughter of veteran film actor Rakhee and renowned lyricist Gulzar, Meghna Gulzar is a filmmaker who has explored diverse subjects, and scores high when to comes to the emotional quotient in cinema. For example, Filhaal released in 2002 revolved around surrogacy, and was a bold theme for that period. She recently directed the critically acclaimed Talvar, written by Vishal Bharadwaj, based on the 2008 Noida double murder case of Arushi Talwar and Hemraj that remains unsolved to this day.
Her father is acclaimed writer-lyricist Javed Akhtar and her brother Farhan Akhtar is credited with introducing new-age concepts to Bollywood. Zoya Akhtar has held the family flag high. An Indian filmmaker and screenwriter, Zoya made her directorial debut with Luck by Chance in 2009. After completing her diploma in filmmaking from New York University, she assisted Mira Nair and Dev Benegal before breaking out into her own. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara(2011), and Dil Dhadakne Do (201) catapulted her into the big league.
She is one part of the director-duo who is taking Hindi cinema by storm. Gauri Shinde and R. Balki have reinvented Hindi cinema with their unique styles. Gauri made her debut in 2012 with English Vinglish, where yesteryear actor Sridevi made a brilliant comeback. It was a brilliant portrayal of a woman who overcame her insecurities to stand out on her own. She followed it up with Dear Zindagi in 2016 which has also tasted the same kind of success.
Daughter of filmmaker Aparna Sen, Konkona Sen Sharma started her career in films as an actor. She decided to direct very recently, and her much-awaited film A Death in the Gunj released last year, garnering her appreciation from critics and audiences alike. After the Russian director Yuliya Solntseva, Konkona became the second woman to win the best director award at Cannes.
After working as an assistant director with Prakash Jha, Alankrita made her directorial debut with Turning 30. Her second film Lipstick Under My Burkha released last year, after a lot of controversy, and battling with the Central Board for Film Certification, for being a women-centric and vulgar film. Despite the opposition, the film released and received more than 10 global film awards including a Golden Globes nomination.
Gurinder is one of the most critically and commercially successful woman filmmaker who majorly makes films on Indian families against a British backdrop. She has taken a comic approach in most of her movies like Bend it like Beckham and Bride and Prejudice but with social issues at its core. Gurinder has made films on serious topics as well like the most recent Viceroy’s House.