International Women’s Day: From Mira Nair to Farah Khan, Women Directors in the Industry

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By Arijita Bhowmik | March 8, 2014 5:15 PM EST

As the world celebrates International Women's Day on 8 March, we bring to you some of the significant women figures, who have helmed the cameras effectively, making their mark in the male dominated film fraternity.

Reuters
Mira Nair

Mira Nair: The DU and Harvard educated director is clearly a marvel. Her debut film "Salaam Bombay" received honour at the Cannes Film Festival and was further nominated for Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film Category. Over the years, she has delivered gems like "Monsoon Wedding", "The Namesake", "Amelia" and the recent "The Reluctant Fundamentalist." The BAFTA awardee is presently working on "The Bengali Detective," which is expected to release in 2015.

Aparna Sen:  She is a multi-talented figure and has successfully juggled career as an actress, script-writer and a proclaimed Bengali filmmaker. National Film Awards are a regular feature for Sen, who has films like "36 Chowringee Lane", "Sati", "Paroma", "Mr and Mrs Iyer", "The Japenese Wife", "15 Park Avenue" to her credit. She has acted as a jury for international film festivals and has been bestowed with Padma Shri among other honours.

Zoya Akhtar: She has broken out of the shadows of her successful last name and proved her mettle in her very first film "Luck By Chance," which received critical accolades. She swept the box office as well as critics, with her blockbuster film "Zindegi Na Milegi Dobara". She has written the screenplay and story of "Talaash" and even directed a short film celebrating 100 years of Indian cinema.

Farah Khan: We look up to Khan as all rounder of sorts, managing her personal and professional life with equal elan. She took a huge leap from the role of a famous choreographer and set foot into filmmaking. Her forte has been commercial entertainers like "Main Hoon Na", "Om Shanti Om" and "Tees Maar Khan." The director is presently busy with her big budget "Happy New Year" but is often seen as a doting mother to her triplets.

Deepa Mehta: The director is best known for her Elements trilogy - "Fire" (1996), "Earth" (1998) and "Water" (2005), which garnered immense critical appreciation and was even chosen as an official entry for the Academy awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category. She adapted Salman Rushdie's award winning novel "Midnight's Children," which consisted an ensemble of Indian casts.

Kiran Rao: Her directorial debut "Dhobi Ghat" appeared as a fiercely independent film and a league different from her superstar husband Aamir Khan's usual genre of films. She has backed varied works as producer with "Taare Zaameen Par", "Peepli Live", "Delhi Belly" and also the social reality show "Satyamev Jayate." Rao further stepped into promoting Anand Gandhi's universally acclaimed "Ship of Theseus" for the Indian audience.

Revathy: The talented southern actress has acted in over 100 films and has successfully tried her hands at direction. Her debut directorial "Mitr, My Friend" won her National Film Award, as she moved on to deal with the sensitive topic of AIDS in her second film "Phir Milenge." The winner of numerous awards also directed  "Kerala Cafe", "Mumbai Cutting" and "Red Building Where the Sun Sets."

Gauri Shinde: She made a dream debut with her first film "English Vinglish" and the film fetched endless accolades and even international recognitions. Previously an ad-filmmaker, Shinde's sensitive portrayal of a typical Indian wife's incapability in speaking English met universal acceptance as she took home almost all awards of the season.

Nandita Das: The beautiful actress' niche taste has been evident from her debut film "1947 Earth" for which she bagged a Filmfare. So when she made a ground breaking directorial debut with "Firaaq" inspired from the aftermath of Gujarat riots, it really came as no surprise. Das' influential figure is often reflected in her varied choice of films and her strong philanthropic activities. She has been conferred with prestigious honours internationally and nationally for her works and has even acted as jury in the reputed Cannes Film Festival.

Reema Kagti:  The Assamese filmmaker and screen writer made her film debut with "Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd" and went on to direct Aamir Khan in "Talaash." She also penned the screenplay for her films and Zoya Akhtar's "Zindegi Na Milegi Dobara" and has long been associated with Farhan Akhtar's Excel Entertainment.

Some others India women filmmakers in the scene are the journalist turned filmmaker Anusha Rizvi, whose "Peepli Live" was a satirical take on the grim issue of farmer suicides in India. Tanuja Chandra is another director known for dealing with strong female protagonists as seen in her films like "Dushmann," "Sangharsh" and "Sur." She has also donned the writer's hat for movies like "Tamanna", "Dil Toh Pagal Hai" and "Zakham." Rajashree Ojha has made an indelible mark in the industry as a director with films like "Aisha" and "Chaurahein". Leena Yadav directed "Shabd" and the multi-starrer "Teen Patti", both of which unfortunately failed at the box office.

(Edited by Vanilla Sharma) 

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(Photo: Reuters / )
Mira Nair
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