For Bollywood, 2017 has been a year of some new emerging trends. First, people are not buying the yearly Imtiazsque love stories as cinematic brilliance any more (Harry Met Sejal). Second, Bollywood should stop acting like the big bro of Indian cinema. Baahubali for once and all has proven the pan-India capacity of regional cinema. Third, even Salman Khan can’t save a bad film (Tubelight). The only trend, perhaps, that Bollywood can take both pride and heart in is the fourth one – the emergence of some terrific women story-tellers. This bit of positive observation might have missed our notice if film critic Rajeev Masand hadn’t tweeted a teaser of upcoming Directors’ roundtable for 2017.
— Rajeev Masand (@RajeevMasand) November 28, 2017
Of the five filmmakers – three on the panel are women. For a country, where you can count the number of female filmmakers on your fingertips, to see women outnumbering the men on a panel on filmmakers or for that matter any panel – shows that things are changing, and changing for the good.
So, who all made it to the panel? SS Rajamouli for Baahubali 2, RS Prasanna for the amazing Subh Mangal Savdhan, Alankrita Shrivastava for the bold and beautiful Lipstick Under My Burqa, Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari for Bareilly Ki Barfi and Konkona Sen Sharma for the achingly beautiful A Death In the Gunj.
The sheer variety of the genres that these women have attempted is commendable. Perhaps, Reema Kagti’s Talaash, was one of the very few times when a woman filmmaker in India made a suspense thriller. With Death In the Gunj, Konkona Sen again proved that women filmmakers aren’t confined to making “feminist” films. After Nil Battey Sannata, Ashwini Iyer Tiwari experimented with a rom-com, that brought back the memories of the Amol Palekar kind of simple and well-meaning comedy – that has been a rarity in Bollywood lately. And finally, Alankrita Shrivastava, who not only gave us the brilliant Lipstick Under My Burqa, which subtly commented on the everyday misogyny women face but also put up a fiery fight with the sanskari Censor Board to ensure that her film saw the light of the day in India’s theaters.
For once, it is heartening to see women not being treated as a token element in a “manel”
Also, kudos to these women for shining so bright with their work that it’s has become impossible to ignore them and relegate them to a separate category of “women filmmakers”.