Indian Female Filmmakers

by Annie Saxena on Feb 09, 2023

Indian Female Filmmakers

“I have many stories to tell.”

Zoya Akhtar

What was once a male-dominated industry has seen more women getting behind the camera in recent times. They have brought a fresh perspective with a diversity of dynamic concepts in their films. Many female directors are continuously experimenting with their movies and have proved the misogynist tendency of Bollywood wrong. Even though female directors have started getting due credits and recognition only recently, Indian women began directing films from the silent era. Indian women have been achieving success in this field for a while now.

It all began when Fatima Begum, mother of the legendary actress Zubeida, formed her own film company called Fatma Films in 1926 and later, Victoria-Fatma Films. At Cannes 2017, the only Indian entry was from Payal Kapadia, a student at the Film and Television Institute of India and her 13-minute short movie, Afternoon Clouds, was the first Indian film to be selected for the Cine foundation section. These two milestones have further proved the strong stand of female directors in India.

There was a time when there were very few women filmmakers in Indian cinema. Today, our cinema is riding on the wave of the likes of Zoya Akhtar, Konkona Sen Sharma, Meghna Gilzar and more. They have been challenging the status quo, and redefining Indian cinema with their groundbreaking films. It’s important to celebrate these gifted women. Below are a few of the directors who have made waves in the industry with their impeccable work.

Aparna Sen, an Indian actor, filmmaker and screenwriter is popularly known for her work in Bengali cinema. She is a twice-National Award winner who made her directorial debut with 36 Chowringhee Lane, produced by Shashi Kapoor. She achieved immense and consistent success with path-breaking films like Sati, Mr. and Mrs. Iyer and 15 Park Avenue, among others. She is one of the most highly decorated woman filmmaker in today’s day and age.

Meghna Gulzar, daughter of film actor Rakhee and the renowned lyricist Gulzar, has explored diverse subjects, and achieved much appreciation when to comes to the emotional quotient in cinema. Her film, Filhaal released in 2002 and revolved around surrogacy, making it a bold theme for that time. She recently directed the critically acclaimed Talvar, based on the 2008 Noida double murder case of Arushi Talwar and Hemraj that remains unsolved to this day. Adding to her accolades is Raazi, a true story made into a beautiful film.

Keeping up with talent that is exuded by her family, Zoya Akhtar is an Indian filmmaker and screenwriter, who 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. She has made exceptional films like Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Dil Dhadakne Do and the huge hit Gully Boy that catapulted her into the big leagues.

Gauri Shinde has reinvented Hindi cinema with her unique style and story. She made her debut in 2012 with the celebrated film English Vinglish, starring the great Sridevi. Her next film was Dear Zindagi which also tasted the same kind of success.

Gurinder Chadha is one of the most gifted filmmakers. She’s an English director of Indian origin who has directed masterpieces such as Bend It Like Beckham, Bride & Prejudice and more. The common theme in her films mainly focuses on the lives of Indian women living in England.

Another great name in this industry is Mira Nair, who is known for the internationally appealing films she makes. Monsoon Wedding, The Namesake, Masala Bombay are just a few of the major hits she has created. Others include actor turned director Konkana Sen Sharma, choreographer turned director Farah Khan, Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari and more who have incessantly given Indian cinema a fresh and bold voice.

These powerhouses have been making our country proud with their art. The future is definitely female.