Changemakers carve their niche

It has become a thing of past when only the male brigade dominated the film fraternity. Over the years things have changed and how! However,  women filmmakers standing as tall as their male counterparts is not a new trend.

Starting from Sai Paranjape to Meera Nair, Deepa Mehta to Farah Khan, Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti to name a few change makers, it won’t be wrong to say that these filmmakers have played a crucial role in re-defining commercial cinema. 

The winds of change began sweeping Bollywood way back in the 198Os when a director like Sai Pranjpaye, who depicted pure romance and compassion in her own sensible style in films like Sparsh (1980) Chashme Baddoor (1981) and Katha (1983), burst on the scene.  Interestingly, till today Chashme Baddoor speaks volumes about the creative instincts of a woman filmmaker who gave Bollywood a masterpiece.

Again, not confining themselves to Indian boundaries, few Indian women filmmakers gave the world a cinematic treat.  Highlighting the plight of the slum children living in Mumbai, Mira Nair through Salaam Mumbai (1988) brought accolades internationally. The film won the Audience Award at Cannes Film Festival and Golden Camera Award for best film. Mira, once again, hogged the limelight for her film Monsoon Wedding (2001).

Following the league of exceptional filmmakers is Deepa Mehta. Her elements trilogy Fire, Earth and Water, no doubt, landed her in controversy, but gave her international recognition as Earth was India’s official entry for the Academy Awards and Water from Canada.

Human emotions have been intensely introspected upon and explored by women filmmakers. Therefore, Aparna Sen deserves a mention. The talented filmmaker has made just around eight films in the last 28 years, but they are counted as amongst the best. Her critically-acclaimed movies include Mr and Mrs Iyer, 15 Park Avenue, 36 Chowringhee Lane and The Japanese Wife. Amongst the lot, Mr and Mrs Iyer - a love story set against the harsh backdrop of Hindu-Muslim sectarian violence - fetched her National Award for best direction and screenplay. Not to leave behind Pooja Bhatt who has given films like Paap, Holiday, Dhokha and Jism 2.

All these filmmakers have boldly narrated the stories which existed in our society but were untold. Through their talent, grit and determination, they drew a parallel line with male directors.

In the last decade, however, a new brigade of directors like Farah Khan and Zoya Akhtar has taken the commercial cinema to a different level.

Whereas directors like Kiran Rao, Anusha Rizvi and Gauri Shinde through their stories have addressed the complexities of human nature in simplistic and entertaining manner without giving a hint of serious cinema, generally referred as ‘parallel cinema’.

Nilopher Gyan, an assistant director and a project manager with a production house says, “ It is always challenging for a woman to carve a niche for herself in the industry and that too off screen.”

She has a reason to say so. “No man likes to take order from his female counterpart. So, sometimes there is a biased approach towards women filmmakers. But at the same time, females are also respected in the industry. It is a misconception that women are not treated well,” says Nilopher.

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