By: Ankita Mukherjee
We, the audience love to watch films munching on some popcorns and relaxing in the air-conditioned rooms, 8 out of 10 people never look into the details of that film. Who is the director of the film? Did a woman direct it? What is her name? –these sorts of questions are asked by the audience in this male-dominated country and its equal driven film industry. Still now after entering the 21st century, people can’t believe a film can be directed and managed by a woman!
In recent times, a lot more women are getting behind the camera creating some magic, they are bringing a fresh perspective with a diversity of mind-boggling concepts hitting the box office.
There was a time when the only women directors like Mira Nair, Aparna Sen, and Deepa Mehta were giving tough competitions to the male directors in the box office and award ceremonials.
Aparna Sen started off her career as an actor but then she transformed herself into a well-known director. She debuted with ‘36 Chowringhee Lane’ in both Bengali and English language, in the year 1981. She took a high flight after then and made one after another maestro film, ‘15, Park Avenue, The Japanese Wife, Sonata’ and many more in Bengali film industry.
Mira Nair debuted with ‘Salaam Bombay’ in the year 1988. But then she came up with ‘Monsoon Wedding’ which grossed over $30 million worldwide. This daring director came up with a film ‘Kamasutra: a tale of love’ back then in the 90s challenging all the directors. It got critical appreciation and even though it was certified as an adult movie by the CBFC, the mind-set of the audience couldn’t acknowledge the film in a straightway. She also rejected the offer from Warner Brothers in directing the Harry Potter series because of the film ‘The Namesake’ based on the novel written by Jhumpa Lahiri. It grossed in the box office over $20.14 million.
Deepa Mehta is well known for her directorial venture ‘The Elements Trilogy’ (FIRE- $501,533, EARTH- $32,011,576 and WATER -$10,422,387). Back then, female directors wanted to portray social melodrama through a larger than life scale. People used to watch them wholeheartedly. But, with the metamorphosis of time, the mind-set of the directors has changed and they all are working on the concept. Female directors have not stayed back in that race!
Nowadays, the contemporary female directors like Zoya Akhtar, Nandita Das, Meghna Gulzar, Alankita Srivastava, Gauri Shinde, Konkona Sen Sharma, Shonali Bose and many more are trying to show the lives of eminent personalities, the true societal issues and women empowering movies to motivate their audiences, even if they could not be commercially successful.
Zoya Akhtar debuted with Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara where the story unfolds about the three friends. It grossed $21 million in the box office. Whereas she came up with her new film Gully Boy about a gully rapper Divine and it is running successfully in the box office with $2242.3 million and still, it’s counting. But, Nandita Das could not hit the box office with her film Manto but it got a lot of critical appreciation. Meghna Gulzar with her Raazi, Gauri Shinde with her Dear Zindagi, Alankrita Srivastava with her Lipstick under my Burkha, Konkona Sen Sharma with her A Death in the Gunj and Shonali Bose with her Margherita with a Straw concentrated on the concept without worrying about the box office, also they earned more of their budget which indicates they flourished commercially too. Kangana Ranaut, a national award-winning actress turned into a director with her film ‘Manikarnika’ which got released this year. She was entangled with a lot of controversies but still having them she wore the directorial crown of her film.
Bengali female directors are now no less than them. Bengali film industry has opened up its grand gate for all the women who wanted to pursue this career maintaining inequality. Starting with Arundhati Devi, and now Aparna Sen, Sudeshna Roy, Nandita Roy is doing some amazing jobs in the film industry!
Now, women are directing, acting and producing a film! Just like a rising sun, women are holding their heads high above all, in pride. With their extraordinary contribution in the film industry, the future lies within their hands and they have proven it years after years, taking Indian cinema to a new horizon. We should always celebrate their efforts. Cheers to the women power!