Calling the shots

Calling the shots

Through the lens

Calling the shots

Wielding the megaphone is no longer a male prerogative. Decades after Mira Nair announced to the world with ‘Salaam Bombay!’ that filmmaking is not alien to Indian women, every  film industry in the country is seeing a surge in the number of women directors. On Women’s Day, Kannada film directors share their experiences.

Prema Karanth’s ‘Phaniyamma’, made in 1983, was one of the earliest Kannada movies made by a woman. The wheel is coming full circle in Sandalwood.

 Last year, Priya Belliappa’s ‘Ring Road’ was made by an all-woman crew, while Suman Kittur’s ‘Kiragoorina Gayyaligalu’, slated to hit the screens this week, has an all-woman cast.

Women tend to look at a lot of ordinary things from a different perspective, reasons Suman Kittur. “We are always up for facing challenges all the time,” she adds. Her last venture ‘Edegarike’ did exceptionally well. She sees a lot of women entering the technical side of the Kannada film industry. “A lot of women who are venturing into filmmaking are exploring new subjects and giving the word ‘commercial cinema’ a whole new twist. Why should a commercial movie have an item song, five action sequences and a few romantic scenes? I think a lot of women directors who have attempted to make commercial cinema have tried to break this formula,” she explains.

Importance is now being given to subjects based on women which also provides immense scope for performance-oriented roles, feels Kavitha Lankesh, who has films such as ‘Crazy Loka’, ‘Avva’ and ‘Alemaari’ to her credit. She recalls that she began as a corporate filmmaker and was clueless when she started working in the film industry. Talking about one of the biggest challenges that she faces, Kavitha says, “Budgets are always an issue. Somehow producers think women directors are good at making only art-related movies but the moment we tell them that we want to deal with a commercial subject, they begin to negotiate the film’s budget. This is a dampener. It’s easier to run a home with a limited budget but you can’t do the same with films.”  

Appreciating the surge of young women directors in the Kannada film industry, Kannada director and member of the Censor Board, Vijayalakshmi Singh says, “The onset of digital media has brought in a big difference to movie-making. A lot of young filmmakers are coming forward to make short documentaries and find the same people moving on to the big screen.” 

She also feels the subjects chosen by women directors are bold and in keeping with the culture and ethos of an urban setting. “Women directors in the Kannada film industry are now making films that appeal to the senses of an urban audience,” she says. 

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