The Roar of Femininity: Women filmmakers of Bollywood make their presence felt

Women have struggled long and hard to find their space in cinema and be respected for their craft than be known for their gender. And over the years, they have increasingly been carving out their own space, not just as actresses but also as directors.

Apart from the dynamic roles played by actresses in women-centric films like Queen, The Dirty Picture, Kahaani, Raazi to name a few, women have also played a tremendous role as directors and writers of films. Here’s a list of our pick from the many lovely films made by women in recent times:

Gauri Shinde – Dear Zindagi (2016)

Alia Bhatt and Shah Rukh Khan in a scene from Dear Zindagi.

Dear Zindagi is a coming-of-age movie starring Alia Bhatt and Shah Rukh Khan. Gauri Shinde touches upon the subject of mental health through the film. The film is about love, hurt, and ultimately self-reconciliation.

Nandita Das – Manto (2018)

Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Sadat Hasan Manto

Manto is a biographical drama based on the life of Saadat Hasan Manto. Nandita Das Nacaptures Manto as a celebrated writer in the Indian film fraternity as well as a writhing, alcoholic husband. Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s portrayal of Manto ignites feelings of respect, pity, and loathing all at the same time.

Zoya Akhtar – Gully Boy (2019)

Alia Bhatt and Ranveer Singh in Gully Boy.

Gully Boy is an inspired account of India’s underground rap culture. Starring Ranveer Singh as Murad Ahmed and Siddhant Chaturvedi as MC Sher, the film presents the hurdles that struggling rappers from the ghettos have to face. Alia Bhatt plays the role of Safeena, Murad’s closest confidante and girlfriend.

Meghna Gulzar – Raazi (2018)

Alia Bhatt as ‘Sehmat’ and Vicky Kaushal as ‘Iqbal Syed’ in Raazi.

Based on Harinder Singh Sikka’s book Calling Sehmat, Meghna Gulzar’s Raazi keeps the viewers on the edge of their seats with its tantalizing turn of events. Alia Bhatt as Sehmat – an agent of espionage for the Government – grips the audience with her powerful act. Iqbal Syed played by Vicky Kaushal is equally captivating.

Reema Kagti  – Talaash: The Answer Lies Within (2012)

Kareena Kapoor as Simran in Talaash: The Answer Lies Within

Talaash is a suspense thriller starring Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Rani Mukerji in lead roles. Reema Kagti intermingles the woes and negligence of a marginalised part of society with the anguish and distress of a father who just lost his son.

Shonali Bose – The Sky is Pink (2019)

Priyanka Chopra, Zaira Wasim, and Farhan Akhtar in a scene from The Sky is Pink.

The Sky is Pink is based on the life of Aisha Chaudhary. The film uses Aisha’s story as a backdrop to narrate her parents’ love story. With Priyanka Chopra, Farhan Akhtar, Zaira Wasim, and Rohit Saraf in lead roles, the film is a complete package of romance, laughter, and tears.

Anvita Dutt – Bulbbul (2020)

Tripti Dimri in and as Bulbbul.

Bulbbul is a revenge thriller set in old Bengal. Anvita Dutt tells the story of women cloistered within the walls of their house. Through the story of a household, Dutt sheds light on social issues and secrets that lie within so many homes.  The film has a plethora of actors – Tripti Dimri, Avinash Tiwary, Rahul Bose, Paoli Dam, Parambrata Chatterjee- to name a few.

Konkana Sen Sharma – A Death in the Gunj (2016)

Vikrant Massey as Shutu in A Death in the Gunj.

Konkana’s debut directorial captures Shutu (Vikrant Massey) in his invisibility. The film traverses through a week-long trip of Shutu’s self-discovery as he finds himself lonely and alienated in a house full of people. A Death in the Gunj also features Om Puri, Tanuja, Ranvir Shorey, Kalki Koechlin, Jim Sarbh, and Tilottama Shome, and Gulshan Devaiah in important roles.

Alankrita Shrivastava – Lipstick Under My Burkha (2016)

Ratna Pathak Shah in Lipstick Under My Burkha.

The film tells the tale of four women caught within the shackles of society. Each with their unique circumstances is brought together by common oppression. The film starring Ratna Pathak, Konkana Sen Sharma, Aahana Kumra and Plabita Borthakur, is an ode to the voices of women everywhere.

Kiran Rao – Dhobi Ghat (2010)

Aamir Khan in a scene from Dhobi Ghat.

Dhobi Ghat which was internationally released as Bombay Diaries or Mumbai Diaries is the story of four individuals tied together by a chance of fortune. Kiran Rao uses Mumbai as the premise to unfold the story and does justice to it through many scenes that capture the essence of Mumbai. The film stars Aamir Khan, Prateik Babbar, Monica Dogra, and Kriti Malhotra.

Do tell us which ones are your favourite!

(Contributed by Deblina Munshi)


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