The Indian film industry, often known as Bollywood, is a vast conglomerate which churns out hundreds of films every year. For decades, we have had access to a multitude of topics covered by various filmmakers, and almost every one of them was a man. In an industry which was dominated by men for ages, female content makers and women filmmakers in India definitely come as a breath of fresh air. We actually get a completely different perspective on things when we see situations, events and even people from a woman’s point of view.
From Aparna Sen and Sai Paranjpye to Deepa Mehta and Mira Nair, to the newbies, Leena Yadav and Ruchika Oberoi, we have limited but supremely talented ladies to look up to in the world of filmmaking. Seamedu has picked its top favourites – women who have managed to strike the perfect chord with the audience with their endearing movies.
With feminist superhero films coming in, here’s a look at the superwomen of the Hindi film industry who are shaking things up!
5 Outstanding Indian Women Who Chose a Career in Filmmaking
1. Zoya Akhtar
Zoya Akhtar is currently riding high on the success of her latest film ‘Gully Boy’, which has made it big commercially and critically. Zoya Akhtar burst on to the scene about a decade ago with ‘Luck by Chance’ which received a lot of acclaim but wasn’t exactly a box office hit. But since then, she has made some stellar films which have etched a place in the audience’s mind. She partners up with Reema Kagti and together they make content which is contemporary, relevant and entertaining. Zoya Akhtar received some flak as a content maker wherein critics claimed that she makes films that pander to a specific, upper class section of the society and depict first world problems only. But she always stood her ground firmly and made films that she truly believed in. With films like ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ and ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’ she addressed urban issues with nuance and poise and silenced her critics. With multiple international film screenings and coveted Indian awards, Zoya has definitely come out of the imposing shadow of Mr. Javed Akhtar and carved a niche for herself in the Indian film industry. She recently has been part of a web series called ‘Made in Heaven’ which was well received and now she wants to experiment in the action/thriller department, too.
2. Reema Kagti
Reema Kagti made a fabulous debut with ‘Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd.’ in 2007 for which she wrote the story and directed it as well. Before that she worked as an assistant director for films like ‘Lagaan’, ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ and ‘Lakshya’. Reema Kagti makes content-driven films with frequent collaborator Zoya Akhtar and she works in different capacities for different films. Although, none of her solo directorial films were huge hits, Reema certainly is a significant part of the changing bigger picture. Her contribution to other films and her experiments in different media like web series has been noteworthy. She definitely has pushed the envelope with films like ‘Talaash: The Answer Lies Within’ and ‘Gold’ in different genres. A silent worker, she is not known for her public appearances. She lets Zoya do the talking and lets her work do the talking for her.
3. Meghna Gulzar
Another noteworthy filmmaker of today’s times, Meghna Gulzar, like Zoya Akhtar had to walk the extra mile to make a name for herself in the industry. Her father, the noted lyricist Gulzar, is a revered name and she had a legacy to live up to and she is doing it with much grace. She started her career in the Hindi film industry in 1999 with a film called ‘Hu Tu Tu’. She did the screenplay for the film. She then directed multiple films but tasted success recently with films like ‘Talvar’ in 2015 and ‘Raazi’ in 2018. ‘Raazi’ won Filmfare awards for best film and also earned Meghna the Best Director award. Meghna Gulzar is known for her subject choice and emotional quotient of her films. Her 2002 film ‘Filhaal’ talked about surrogacy which was quite a bold choice at the time. She addressed the Arushi Talvar murder case with her film ‘Talvar’. ‘Raazi’ was also hailed to be a great film because of the novel idea behind the film. She is currently working on a film called ‘Chhapaak’ which is a biographical film based on the life of acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal.
4. Gauri Shinde
Gauri Shinde is another prominent filmmaker in today’s times who is known for making ‘slice of life’ films which leave the audience with a message in the heart, a tear in the eye and a smile on the face. She made her debut in 2012 with a heartwarming film ‘English Vinglish’ which practically won her all awards. It was a simple topic handled with a lot of grace and ease. It was about a woman overcoming her insecurities and making an identity for herself which she dedicated to her mother. She followed it up with another amazing film ‘Dear Zindagi’ which starred Alia Bhatt and Shah Rukh Khan. This film addressed the issues faced by career-oriented, urban women. Gauri Shinde handled mental health and emotional issues with the subtext of feminism and urbanism and made a brilliant film which was well received commercially and critically.
5. Konkana Sen Sharma
Already known as a brilliant actress and an actor who has something to say with her choices, Konkana Sen Sharma has donned the director’s hat as well. She made her directorial debut with a Bengali film in 2006 and made a Hindi film ‘A Death in the Gunj’ in 2017. This film was screened at multiple International festivals and won numerous awards as best film as well as best director. Konkana Sen Sharma has been making waves in Hindi cinema for more than 15 years now and was always known for choosing wonderful characters with a feminist edge. Be it a reporter in ‘Page 3’ or an aspiring writer in ‘Wake up Sid’ or her much appreciated roles in films like Omkara, 15 Park Avenue, Life in a Metro and Lipstick under my Burkha, her work as an actress has always been spectacular.
These amazing women filmmakers have started taking things in their own hands and are definitely part of a paradigm shift. A couple of generations before when there were barely any female filmmakers, but today we have reached a phase where women content creators are heading every aspect of filmmaking. After being used to seeing stories of women from a male POV, these women are now showing us real, relatable women characters who go beyond the stereotypes.
How to Make a Career in Filmmaking in India?
For all movie enthusiasts who wish to take their love for films a step further and inspire the world with their creations like the aforementioned women have, a solid foundation in the subject is a must. For those of you who are wondering how to make a career in the film industry, there are several courses in filmmaking that various institutes offer across India.
For instance, Seamedu’s degree courses in filmmaking, offered at our Pune, Bengaluru and Chandigarh campuses, are the ideal launchpad for those who wish to make a career in filmmaking.
At Seamedu School of Pro-Expressionism, we fuel our students’ dreams and creativity to help them realize their potential as storytellers. Several of our female alumni have landed fantastic projects in the world of cinema, television, advertising and web series after successfully completing their degree in filmmaking from Seamedu.
Come and be a part of Seamedu and learn the art of layered filmmaking from the experts in the field. Add nuances to your characters and sensitivity to your content. India (and the world) awaits the next wave of women filmmakers!