Stories made from the female gaze are growing in number: filmmaker Radhika Lavu

After a decade-long career of producing successful Telugu shows, Radhika Lavu feels women-centric stories and films made from a feminine perspective are growing in number. In an interview with HerStory, she talks about her latest show, women in cinema, and much more.

Stories made from the female gaze are growing in number: filmmaker Radhika Lavu

Tuesday January 18, 2022,

4 min Read

Growing up in New Delhi, Radhika Lavu was surrounded by cinema and theatre aficionados, and they became an integral part of her journey into filmmaking. The filmmaker has been in the profession for over a decade now. In 2014, she founded a production house, Ellanar Films, to produce the kind of content she wanted to watch.

On balancing filmmaking and entrepreneurship, she says, “Striking a balance is a constant process, and something I am continually learning each day. Filmmaking is one of the most unique professions out there, owing to the delicate blend of creativity and business skills it requires. For me, it has always been about doing justice to the projects we take up – that is what drives the two sides of the coin, but making smart business decisions and understanding the pulse of the audiences also plays a key role.”

After the scintillating success of the Telugu web series Gods of Dharmapuri on OTT platform Zee5, Radhika released another show, Unheard. A philosophical period drama set in pre-independence India in the 1900s, Unheard explores many complex yet universal themes such as freedom, truth, communal harmony etc. 

Radhika Lavu Unheard

Unheard poster

“It also tries to understand the motivations and greatness of freedom fighters and revolutionaries who laid their lives down for our country. I found that there was a lot of substance in the subject, and I wanted to bring the wonderful script to life,” she says.


A take on people's lives during the freedom movement with a central focus on Hyderabad, she says Unheard aims to stir poignant conversations that explore the events of the times and capture the true essence of the human spirit.

Women in cinema

Talking about women’s representation in the show, Radhika believes in quality over quantity. 

“One of the titular roles in Unheard is that of the Padma, a noble Gandhian revolutionary, who is passionate about winning the country its freedom. A woman with a mind of her own, and driven by the pursuit of justice, she believes in her principles and has a lot of conviction and depth. Through this powerful character, we attempted to showcase the grit and determination of Indian women in the pre-Independence era, and how they played an invaluable role in winning India her freedom,” Radhika says. 

She shares that while it has never been a fair fight for women in the workplace, today on many sets, women command respect, dignity, and authority. 

“We’ve had many women onboard who are absolutely indispensable for Ellanar Films, and I believe that one must go out of their way to ensure that there is absolutely no disparity. It is crucial to make the women on sets feel heard,” says Radhika, on the progress of women in cinema.

Filmmaker Radhika Lavu during a shoot.

She adds that she has witnessed a refreshing change in the last 10 years of her career in filmmaking - women-centric stories and films made from the female gaze are growing in number. 

“Our thoughts, our preferences, and our tales are being brought to life in a wonderful manner in many projects. Perhaps women joining the filmmaking space more than ever have a huge role to play in the same.” 

Dare to dream

Radhika says filmmakers are more confident to experiment today, and the audience’s evolving taste is also playing a huge role in this. “Filmmakers are taking huge and bold risks with new concepts, which probably would have been out of the question a decade ago.”

She witnessed this personally with the success of her show, Gods of Dharmapuri - her biggest takeaway was that audiences always appreciate a good story.    

“I realised that respecting the audience’s intelligence and curating a fascinating tale for them is all it takes to make a venture a success.”

Her advice to aspiring young women filmmakers is to “dare to dream” and not give up on their projects. 

“There will always be many no’s before there is a big yes. But it is important to believe, with all your heart, in your artistic abilities and what you want to showcase to the world.”

Edited by Teja Lele