Meghna Gulzar, Reema Kagti, Ashwini Iyer Tiwari, Nandita Das, and Zoya Akhtar – these are the names of prominent female filmmakers (Yes! They do exist) who have been making path breaking and revolutionary films in the recent past. Now, we have another female director joining the list and her name is Shelly Chopra Dhar.
Shelly Chopra’s film ‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga’ is receiving rave reviews from the critics and audiences alike.
So, why do filmmakers (especially female ones) are not taken seriously and not given due respect? The crux of the problem is that despite this being the 21st century, the mindset of the majority of Indians is patriarchal, sexist, misogynist and of hypocrisy and doublespeak.
Let’s look at some of the films for example like ‘Raazi’, ‘Gold’ and ‘Manto’. These three films were made by Meghna Gulzar, Reema Kagti and Nandita Das respectively and all three of these films were nuanced and made with great scripts and ideas. It talked about patriotism, emotion, conflict, struggle and summed up life in general.
Female filmmakers are always judged differently and even before they make a film, they are looking over their shoulder. If a male director gives a flop then he will get another chance, but god forbid if a woman director’s film tanks at the box-office, then her career is more or less over. Filmmaking is a very complex and mind-bogglingly tough process and at the end of the day, if you have the talent, then your gender should not matter at all.
We are talking about equality and if women can become Prime Ministers, Presidents, CEOs and economists, then you just have to break the shackles and give everyone an equal opportunity irrespective of their sex. In the Indian government, we have Nirmala Sitharaman as Defence minister and Sushma Swaraj as External Affairs minister. The female filmmakers have great ideas, thoughts, creativity and unique storytelling and want to push the envelope. They are more inclined towards risk-taking than their male counterparts.
Meghna Gulzar’s ‘Raazi’ (and earlier ‘Talwar’) was greatly appreciated and it did business worth over Rs 100 crore. The great thing about ‘Raazi’ was that despite talking about India-Pakistan conflict, it didn’t cater to chest thumping or ultra-nationalism. In ‘Raazi’, there was no Pakistan bashing just for the sake of it and it did not play to the gallery.
Meghna Gulzar teamed up with Alia Bhatt and gave a special film like ‘Raazi’ in 2018.
Nandita Das’ ‘Manto’ beautifully captured the life and times and struggles of Saadat Hasan Manto. Nawazuddin Siddiqui played the character to perfection and lot of credit should go to Nandita as a director for extensive research and taking care of the aesthetics.
Nandita Das proved by her class in ‘Manto’.
Zoya Akhtar, apart from being the daughter of Javed Akhtar and sister of Farhan Akhtar, has carved a place for herself in the industry by proving her mettle as a director. Zoya’s latest venture ‘Gully Boy’ deals with various complexities and it has a roller coaster of emotions and it shows how much talent and charisma Zoya has to offer as a storyteller.
Bollywood has always been a big boys club and actresses and women, in general, have always been treated as second class citizens in the Hindi film industry. Women consist of 50% of India’s population and it should be a level playing field irrespective of caste, creed, and gender.
Post Script: Kangana Ranaut has been facing a lot of abuse and barbs on social media regarding ‘Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi’. Kangana took over the project after Krish’s exit midway through the project. Kangana stepped up to the plate and took over the reins of the film and showed her class. This is the precise reason why we need more female filmmakers to take important roles in the industry and not just be there as spectators.