Here’s Why These 5 Indian Women Filmmakers Depict Realism!

Here’s my attempt to tell you to look at these beautiful movies- because Indian women filmmakers are the driving force that keeps it real!

Filmmaking is an art. It is challenging to come up with new concepts that people find interesting and portray them exactly how they want to.

How many times have we disliked, if not hated, a movie just because the director didn’t present it in a particular way?

Now, when we all thought about that movie, how many thought about films directed by men- and how many by women?

What I am trying to say is that when we look at films directed by Indian women filmmakers, they portray more intricacy on matters that people usually don’t tend to.

Let’s extend more on this thought further ahead.

It’s unfortunate, but film direction is a male-dominated field too- several women are thriving in this sector- but it is still highly dominated by men. However, we have these amazing women who break free the stereotypes, make amazing films and set alight the entire ‘can women make movies’ conversation.

So, let’s talk about these amazing Indian women filmmakers or directors!

Gauri Shinde

One of the leading Indian women filmmakers, Gauri Shinde has directed critically acclaimed works. Most of her works are women-centric and talk about grave issues like casual sexism and mental health. One of her movies that tears me up is English Vinglish. The entire concept of the movie is heavy to the heart.

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‘English is a very funny language’ is what I’ve heard being talked about in Hindi movies.

The English language has been a means of creating buffers of comedy between tense scenes in Hindi movies, and yet, nobody saw the bad side of it- nobody criticised the men speaking broken English on the big screen. But Gauri Shinde’s English Vinglish talked about something completely different from what we’ve seen on the screen.

She not so subtly adds these ingredients- a cup of cooking skills, a tablespoon of independence and a teaspoon of education, and tosses it in the pan of casual sexism.

 In Dear Zindagi, she talks about mental health. Let me ease it, she talks about what we know as ‘female hysteria’, ‘she is mental’ and ‘she has lost her mind’ from these movies. She carefully deconstructs the concept of mental health and the reasons behind the apparent ‘hysteria’ of Alia Bhatt.

Shinde’s movies talk about things that are usually made fun of in other movies. Her films depict reality- something that most Hindi films don’t. 

Meghna Gulzar

There is a beauty to whatever Meghna Gulzar directs.

There’s a thing called ‘the female gaze,’ which Meghna Gulzar gives justice to. Her movies depict women intricately.

To give you an insight, let’s talk about Raazi.

Alia Bhatt’s character plays a spy- now, the entire concept of a female spy in action movies is often sexualised in movies. Female spies often objectify themselves to attain the information and use their sexuality as a tool to manipulate potential dangers.

Gulzar had directed movies like Talwar, Raazi and Chhapaak. Her films are critically acclaimed, and they are beautiful works in the film industry.

In Raazi- it is beautiful to see Alia Bhatt’s character go through so many emotions at the same time- seldom have film directors portrayed a chain of different emotions linked in one.

Gulzar, I believe, focuses on emotions. She focuses on how her protagonists depict their emotions- be it anger, indifference or love.

 Alankrita Shrivastava

Alankrita Shrivastava is a hidden pearl beneath the sea. Shrivastava is a screenwriter, but she directed Lipstick Under My Burkha, a 2016 film about women’s desires in a patriarchal world.

To give you more insight about the movie, without actually talking about the movie, is that it got banned.

There is beauty in the movies that are tough to the eye of the patriarchal audience and often end up getting banned. Alankrita Shrivastava talks about women, for women, in this movie made by a woman.

Even though the movie runs around the idea of casual sexism- women’s desire is still a pivotal and recurring topic throughout the film.

What’s beautiful is the sheer uniqueness of the movie. Before 2016, I don’t think there was any movie that talked about the ‘what women want’ factor- it’s unfortunate but true.

Anusha Rizwi

When we talk about Indian women filmmakers, this name has been deeply forgotten.

This name- Anusha Rizwi, came and went by in a span of a few weeks. But, her movie about farmers suicide is extremely relevant to the contemporary scenario and the condition of Indian farmers.

Anusha Rizwi directed Peepli Live– a movie that talks about farmer suicides, the wicked media and the oblivious politicians. Rizwi talks about an issue that should be talked about but is marginalised, just like how the people mentioned in the movie are.

Rizwi’s movie stands out because most filmmakers have not touched on the concept of farmer’s suicide.

It is easy to commercialise a movie- you put in conventional elements, and boom- the movie earns 100s of crores. However, it is equally, if not more, scary and challenging to make a movie people don’t relate to, or worse, don’t know about.

Anusha Rizwi holds on to the challenging path and paves the way for critically acclaimed cinema.

Zoya Akhtar

Zoya Akhtar is one of the highly celebrated female film directors of India. She may be linked to Javed Akhtar and Farhan Akhtar, but her work is equally beautiful, if not more. Zoya celebrates life. She celebrates life most realistically.

Her celebrations of life aren’t usually about rich people doing rich things- her celebrations of life hold on to those people stuck in unhappy marriages, guilts, passion, love and many more things.

Zoya’s movies talk about life- not in a philosophical manner, but she gives life a reality- something that most people want from movies. Her films have protagonists that are rich but don’t have that one driving force. It moves on to people that are so poor that their driving force is what keeps them sane.

Zoya is all about talking about common people- us. She is the balance.

These five Indian women filmmakers have broken the barriers of patriarchy and stepped on this beautiful platform called Indian cinema.

Unfortunately, most of these women go unnoticed- they go unnoticed for their credible and important work in the industry while men with sexist, highly objectifiable direction come in and sweep the awards. Because, at the end of the day, we would want to see movies that

So, here’s my attempt to tell you to go and look at these beautiful movies- because Indian women filmmakers are the driving force that keeps it real in Indian cinema with their realistic approach to life depicted on the big screen.

Image credit: stills from trailers, YouTube

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About the Author

Pranjali Hasotkar

I am a journalism student with a penchant for writing about women and social issues. I am an intersectional feminist and an aspiring journalist. I identify as she/her. read more...

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