PICTURE THIS: WOMEN CALL THE SHOTS
An increasing number of women filmmakers are impressing the audiences with their projects
More power to the ladies, as the year 2016 has not only seen a rise in the number of women directors in Bollywood, but their films have also been striking a chord with the audience. Established women filmmakers such as Farah Khan, Zoya Akhtar, Gauri Shinde and Divya Khosla Kumar were joined by the likes of Anu Menon, Ashwini Iyer Tiwari and Sudha Kongara, whose films garnered praise this year, and await Konkona Sen Sharma and Nitya Mehra, among others, to join the club with their upcoming projects.
“Everywhere in the world and in every sphere, women are doing more things in male-dominated fields, and films are no different. If the statistics are to be believed, this year can be a significant one for women in films,” says Shinde, who directed English Vinglish (2012) and will soon be ready with the release of her upcoming Alia Bhatt and Shah Rukh Khan starrer.
Actor Kalki Koechlin, who starred in Menon’s independent directorial, Waiting, says lady directors bring something different to the table. “It’s great to see more female directors. It offers new perspectives. I’ve worked with Zoya (Akhtar), Shonali (Bose) and Konkona (Sen Sharma) as well. I hope there are many more,” she says.
As for Menon, while she’s happy with the spotlight on the ladies, she stresses there’s still a long way to go. “There’s parity in the smaller budgeted films driven by content, but the female representation is lacking in the mainstream cinema. A female point of view needs to reach a larger audience,” she says.
Divya Khosla Kumar, who has belted out films like Yaariyan (2014) and Sanam Re earlier this year, says women are received well in the industry. “My team has all men and I have never felt any kind of gender bias. Filmmaking is a tough job, and women are strong enough to take it up,” says Kumar.
Does it make a difference if a film is helmed by a man or a woman? No, says actor Pulkit Samrat. He played the lead in Kumar’s Sanam Re, and says: “Art is not gender specific. You just need to be good at it. And if there is any difference, I’d shamelessly admit that female directors are any day more creative, expressive and artistic than males.”
Trade analyst Amod Mehra agrees direction isn’t just a man’s field anymore. “It’s nice to see that women are calling the shots not just in front of the camera but also behind it. Time and again women in the industry have proved they are wonderful storytellers,” he says.
Stills from the films: 1. One Night Stand (by Jasmine D’Souza) 2. Sanam Re (Divya Khosla Kumar) 3. Baar Baar Dekho (Nitya Mehra) 4. Waiting (Anu Menon) 5. Nil Battey Sannata (Ashwini Iyer Tiwari)