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Top 10 Women Directors of Bollywood

Updated on July 16, 2016
Top 10 Women Directors of Bollywood
Top 10 Women Directors of Bollywood | Source

'This is a man’s world but it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl,' sang James Brown. Similarly glamour world is a male-led one yet the imagination and genius of a woman is surely unmatched.

Nowadays, more and more number of fairer sex is going for movie direction. Let us view at a few of the women filmmakers, who have mastered the art of directing a film. They must be given their due for their role in development of Bollywood as a whole. And yes we are not just acclaiming them since they belong to the fairer sex - rather all of them are a huge powerhouse of talent and are a capable of setting an example to the upcoming directors of Bollywood. These women directors, as a result of their remarkable and extraordinary work, have surely been able to distinguish themselves from a man-dominated world of Bollywood.

We're hereby presenting a list of a few of the female directors of Bollywood each of whom is an exceptional film maker.


10) Reema Kagti

Reema Kagti
Reema Kagti | Source

Reema Kagti, a something 40 year old filmmaker hailing from a small town in Assam, has started as an assistant director to many of the preeminent directors including the likes of Farhan Akhtar (Dil Chahta Hai, Lakshya), Ashutosh Gowariker (Lagaan), Honey Irani (Armaan), and Mira Nair (Vanity Fair). She has been an active part of all Farhan and Zoya Akhtar's films and advertisements up to now. She has been an active associate at Excel Entertainment along with the likes of Farhan Akhtar. She started off with a bang with an unusual Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. And then she delivered another hit of her career with Aamir - Rani - Kareena starrer - Talaash, which had a yet another unconventional yet compelling story line. All her movies are known for their quirkiness. The greatest achievement for Kagti is getting a thumbs up from the most critical of the film critics for all her works till date. Her expertise in film direction shows up in how she engages the elements of suspense and emotion together to weave an extraordinarily fascinating drama almost every time.

9) Farah Khan

Farah Khan
Farah Khan | Source

Farah Khan, an ace choreographer of Bollywood eventually decided to venture into the art of film making and what she achieved was nothing less than great. She decided to move on from "1-2-1" to "ACTION... CUT". She is the one among those finger-counted women directors of Bollywood who make outright commercial potboilers. Her first release was MAIN HOON NAA which went on to become the biggest blockbuster of 2004. This gave us the hit duo of FARAH KHAN- SHAHRUKH KHAN. Her next was OM SHANTI OM which was made on a huge scale comprising almost 40 big stars of Bollywood. This 2007 supernatural romantic movie broke was a huge risk that paid off for Farah Khan. It went on to break all the records and made a star out of the debutante Deepika Padukone. Not only this, she went on to direct another multi-starrer movie with her favorite actor Shahrukh - HAPPY NEW YEAR which again went on to become a huge hit.

Farah's movies are known for its grandeur. All her movies have a very basic story line but are shot on a lavish scale. Fans have always eagerly awaited the fun filled movies of Farah Khan.

8) Anu Menon

Anu Menon
Anu Menon | Source

Anu Menon is a new phenomenon in Bollywood. She has been awarded the Best Director award at the just concluded London Asian Film Festival for her recently released 'Waiting'. The film is being praised by both the critics as well as the general audience. Not just this, the film has been loved at all international film festivals.

Elated at her film's success, Anu Menon tells, "The applause and love we got for the film was overwhelming to say the least. And the 'Best Director' award was a sweet cherry on the cake. What everyone across the board appreciated was the humour and hope in the film. It was very satisfying as people noticed and discussed the smallest nuances. Everyone said Kalki and Naseer were extraordinary. As a filmmaker, I got the kind of high you always crave for!"

7) Zoya Akhtar

Zoya Akhtar
Zoya Akhtar | Source

Zoya, the daughter of ace lyricist Javed Akhtar and renowned actress Honey Irani, had films running in her blood starting from the very beginning. She has been quite impressive in all her directed films. She had adeptly cast her brother - Farhan Akhtar in her very first direction - LUCK BY CHANCE. It was a brave attempt by Zoya. The movie revealed the darkest secrets of the industry. The movie was a hit. Then she followed it up with star studded ZINDAGI NA MILEGI DOBARA which counted itself among one of the biggest hits of the year 2011. Her third direction - DIL DHADAKNE DO - again went on to become a blockbuster.

6) Meghna Gulzar

Meghna Gulzar
Meghna Gulzar | Source

She's the daughter of the famous lyricist and poet Gulzar. Her first movie - FILHAAL - a Tabu and Sushmita Sen starrer received huge critical applause. The story line of the movie was based on Surrogacy. This well directed movie established Meghna as a critically acclaimed director. She went on to direct a couple of movies after that which turned out to be absolute duds. But she rose back with her next movie - TALVAR. The movie, which was based on Aarushi Talwar Noida Murder case was declared a blockbuster. The movie was considered a masterpiece and was praised by critics as well as general audience. Meghna was praised for her excellent execution of the story and a brilliant handling of an excellent lineup of actors like Irfan Khan, Konkona Sen Sharma, Atul Sharma and many more.


5) Aparna Sen

Aparna Sen
Aparna Sen | Source

Aparna Sen, a veteran at film direction, needs no introduction. She has been around as an actress, a writer and a filmmaker. She has made a name for herself in the field of direction through films like 36 CHOWRINGHEE LANE, MR. AND MRS. IYER, GOYNAR BAKSHO, ITI MRINALINI and PAROMA. Aparna Sen, a renowned Bengali actress, directed 36 CHOWRINGHEE LANE as her first movie. There were huge expectations from the movie and it went on to become a classic. Her another movie - MR. AND MRS. IYER was a gem of a movie. It was declared successful both commercially as well as critically. She had an excellent ability to showcase human sentiments and emotions in the most beautiful way which was reflected in all her movies.

4) Kalpana Lajmi

Kalpana Lajmi
Kalpana Lajmi | Source

All films directed by Kalpana Lajmi, a born artist, are women-centric ones. Her best work till date has been RUDAALI. This movie is based on Mahasweta Devi's famous story - RUDAALI and it successfully won over the hearts of the critics. The movie is all about the agonizing story of a professional weeper and her impaired ties. The role was competently played by a very enthusiastic Dimple Kapadia and was full supported by Bhupen Hazarika's agonizing soundtrack. Another much hyped film of Kalpana is DAMAN. This too received huge critical applause. This movie also gave a message of social empowerment of women.

3) Sai Paranjpye

Sai Paranjpye
Sai Paranjpye | Source

Sai Paranjpye is remembered most for the movie SPARSH which went on to gross many National awards. Later on, she tried her hands at light hearted comedy and romantic movies too. And what she achieved was nothing less than special. Her comedy movie - CHASHME BADDOR - has attained a cult following and is still remembered as a masterpiece. All her creations are classic in a way. She had the capability to display the most simplest of the things in life in a magical way on screen. She will always be remembered for her significant additions to the Bollywood during 1980 -90.

2) Mira Nair

Mira Nair
Mira Nair | Source

You name the film festival and she has nailed it. Be it Cannes or Venice or National Awards, Mira Nair has it all. All her movies - SALAAM BOMBAY, MONSOON WEDDING, THE NAMESAKE - are proofs of her acute film making technique. All her movies flow like a poem and leave a long lasting impression on the minds of the viewers even after the movie gets over. Renowned movie pundit Roger Ebert remarked, 'one of those joyous films that leaps over national boundaries and celebrates universal human nature.' about her internationally acclaimed movie MONSOON WEDDING. She's the most internationally recognized women director of Bollywood. In her Oscar nominated movie, SALAAM BOMBAY, she has focused on the story of street children. MONSOON WEDDING is all about complex relationships portrayed during a grand Punjabi Hindu Wedding. And her another direction, THE NAMESAKE deals with the conflicts faced by a family that has moved from India to a foreign country while trying to adapt to a new culture. Her films reflect her versatility.

1) Deepa - 'Earth', 'Water', 'Fire' – Mehta:

Deepa - 'Earth', 'Water', 'Fire' – Mehta:
Deepa - 'Earth', 'Water', 'Fire' – Mehta: | Source

She is an Indo-Canadian. All her films have dealt with controversial issues in an exemplary way. She is one of those Indian film makers that have been internationally recognized. Her two movies - 1947 EARTH and WATER have been nominated for Oscars. Deepa Mehta is known to hold no limits while telling a story. Her trilogy of 1947 EARTH, WATER and FIRE have established herself in a totally different league of film makers who may go to any extent to express their story. Besides, the filmmaker has also been recognized for her latest work, an adaptation of Salman Rushdie's Midnight Children.

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