Female Regional Directors: In an entertainment industry that is dominated by men, there are many female directors who are successful and leading. Among many other successful women directors in Bollywood, here are five female regional directors you need to know about.
Popularly known for her work in Bengali cinema, Aparna Sen is a director, actor, and screenwriter. With nine National Film Awards and a Padma Shri, she has achieved consistent success in her career. Sen made her debut with 36 Chowringhee Lane way back in 1981 for which she also bagged the National Film Award for Best Director. Her other notable works in the industry include Sati (1989), Mr. and Mrs. Iyer (2002), 15 Park Avenue (2005), The Japanese Wife (2010), and Ghawre Bairey Aaj (2019).
Sen has been active in the film industry since 1961. From horror, comedy to romance movies, she has directed it all and this makes her one of the most highly decorated women directors of our times.
Anjali Menon works predominantly in Malayalam cinema and has been active in the industry since 2006 and continues to be one of the most original voices in the industry. She has won many awards in both regional and national spheres for her works. Menon’s directed movies include Koode (2018) and Bangalore Days (2014).
Menon has been one of the most active and vocal female directors when it comes to the topic of gender equality in the film industry. The 43-year-old director is also one of the founders of Women in Cinema Collective which represents women and focuses on equality in the Malayalam film industry.
“Right now we are at the crossroads where there are people who are professional enough to not have such biases, but there are also those who are not used to working with women around and can carry in heavy sexist baggage,” said Menon.
Champa Shetty is a director who has worked predominantly in the Kannada film industry. Her popular directed film to hit the theatres was Ammachi Yemba Nenapu (2018). Shetty’s directed film tells the tale of how women in different stages of life constantly strive and search for their own identity in a patriarchal society. Ammachi Yemba Nenapu addresses the hardships women have to go through due to patriarchy.
Shetty has also been vocal about the lack of awareness and exposure of women as directors in the film industry. “Technicians of the movie showed their suspicion on my ability at the start of the project, but after a couple of days of working together with me, they eventually understood and we started to gel,” she said. She also openly talked about how she had to “put in a lot of effort to maintain [her] identity as a woman and to prove [her] ability as a director”.
Another remarkable female director is Rima Das who works in the Assamese film industry. The 39-year-old director and producer is mostly known for her films Village Rockstars (2017) which became the first Assamese film to be submitted for Oscar consideration, and Babul Can Sing (2018). She has won both national and international awards for her works in the film industry.
Regarding her success and her struggles in the male-dominated industry, Das has said, “The society is so conditioned to stereotype women that some people find it uncomfortable to have a woman in the boss’ chair. Having said that, I would like to acknowledge that there are many male colleagues who have been supportive as well.”
Rima Das was also named as one of the 50 Most Influential Young Indians in 2018 by the GQ India edition.
Konkona Sen Sharma
It’s easy to say, “Like mother, like daughter” when one looks at Konkona Sen Sharma’s life. Konkona Sen Sharma is the daughter of Aparna Sharma. Like her mother, she is also an actor, director, and writer who works in Bengali and Hindi films.
With several Filmfare and National awards, Sharma has been active in the industry since 2000. Her directed film A Death in The Gunj was released in 2017. The film is a part of the horror genre which also sharply portrays and addresses patriarchy.
Konkona’s hit movie starred actors like Tillotama Shome and Vikrant Massey. She also won the Filmfare Award for Best Debut Director for this movie.