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Aparna Sen To Nandita Roy: 5 Bengali Woman Filmmakers You Must Know

Bengali Woman Filmmaker, Aparna Sen birthday
Even though there did exist women directors in years before, the recognition and respect are only recent. It is finally that we are giving women behind the camera the applause and cheering that was long overdue. In India’s rich filmmaking history, Bengali cinema has contributed a lot. Even if one takes from a historical perspective, Satyajit Ray’s phenomenal filmmaking did rule the hearts of many. Bengali women filmmakers were not far behind.

Erstwhile Calcutta, the city of joy, was considered in the early periods as a hub for filmmakers from across India. Hiralal Sen, Ritwik Ghatak, Mrinal Sen to Ray, the list was filled with men until women started making space for themselves. Until the woman directors started the search for an entrance that only existed for them in performative arts.


Suggested Reading: From Parineeta To Piku, Five Must Watch Hindi Films On Female Bengali Protagonists


One is glad to find occasionally names of these women in the wide list of veterans of Bengali and Indian cinema. For example the name of Arundhati Devi, who in 1967 won the Certificate for Merit for her first film as director, Chutti. One can only pray that the names of women multiply and they get recognised for their talents other than actors, singers, beauty teams and others.

So, here is a list of five Bengali Woman Filmmaker who made their names and changed the way we looked at the cinema:

Aparna Sen

Aparna Sen is an Indian film director, screenwriter and actor, whose contribution to Bengali cinema is vast. For her art and contribution to cinema, she was honoured with Padma Shri by the Government of India, which is the fourth highest civilian award. In 1981, she won two national film awards for her film, Chowringhee Lane. In 2002, she won the National award for best direction for the film Mr and Mrs Iyer. In 2000, she got the best director Kalakar award for Paromitar Ek Dinn and in 2012, the same award for Iti Mrinalini.

Talking to a group of women filmmakers, Sen had said that she faced difficulties to launch herself as a director and got her first film because of Shashi Kapoor, who was the producer.

Shonali Bose

popular bengali women filmmakers,Margarita with a straw, Bollywood's Badass Mom

Margarita With A Straw, directed by Shonali Bose.

Shonali Bose is an Indian director, writer and film producer, who made her debut as a director in 2005 with the film titled Amu and since then has won a National Film Award, Bridgestone Narrative Award and a Sundance Mahindra Global Filmmaker Award, amongst others. Her debut film was a biographical drama based on a novel of the same name written by Bose. It chronicled the attacks on Sikhs in Delhi in 1984. In 2015, she directed critically acclaimed films like Margarita With A Straw and gave us The Sky Is Pink in 2019.

In an interview with the Indian Express, Bose had said, “I am very woman-oriented, it is very difficult for me to write a story around a man. I will always make women-oriented films unless someone gives me an amazing script. My film will always be progressive. For me, the gender issue is huge. We live in a patriarchal society and we filmmakers should smash that, even when we make a mainstream Hindi movie.”

Nandita Roy

Born in the year 1955, Nandita Roy is an Indian filmmaker and screenwriter. In 2011, she made her debut as a director for the film Icche. She had co-directed this film along with Shiboprosad Mukherjee. The duo has collaborated multiple times and directed projects like Accident, Muktodhara, amongst others. Then later, along with Mukherjee, she started Windows Productions which has produced programs for television like Brahma Janen Gopon Kommoti in 2020 which is based on the life story of a Bengali woman priest and professor Nandini Bhowmik.

In an interview during the film’s release, Roy said, “Right now, it is the need of the hour. We started celebrating women and their phenomenal contribution with Mukherjee Dar Bou (2018) and this year we will be releasing Brahma Janen Gopon Kommoti on the occasion of International Women’s Day.”

Pritha Chakraborty

Pritha Chakraborty is a popular director. She made the film Mukherjee Dar Bou, which was produced by Nandita Roy’s Windows Production. This was her debut film, it is a story about a mother and a daughter-in-law. Chakraborty is from Ranaghat and came to Kolkata to pursue her career in films. The 31-year-old filmmaker first made a documentary film called the Silent Voices in 2015. The film premiered at the Hot Doc Festival in Canada and was then shown in festivals including New York Film Festival.

With regards to the film, in an interview with news media, she said, “The subject of the film revolved around housewives and how their identities were lost in translation.”

Konkana Sen Sharma

The daughter of the veteran director and actor Aparna Sen, Konkana Sen Sharma is also a versatile artist. She is an actor, a director and a writer. She has primarily worked in Hindi and Bengali films. She has gotten two National Film Awards and is one of the leading actors. In 2017, she made her directorial debut with the film A Death In The Gunj for which she even won the Best Debut Director Filmfare Award. Recently, she was seen acting on the Nikkhil Advani directed series, Mumbai Diaries 26/11.

In the past, Sharma had said, “I am surprised feminism is getting such a bad reputation because the minute you believe in equality, whether you want the label or not, you already are a feminist!”

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