Despite profession or designation, gender discrimination has been a longstanding issue in the workplace, and Bollywood is no stranger to this problem. While the ratio of actresses to actors, and female to male playback singers might be similar, when it comes to the people behind the camera, such as directors, lyricists and composers, the ratio is pretty skewed in favor of men. Therefore, to commemorate the recent International Women's Day, we would like to showcase those gems of Bollywood who have made their mark behind-the-scenes in a world dominated by men, and have thus managed to be an inspiration to women universally.
Ekta Kapoor needs no introduction. She has been ruling the hearts of television viewers for eons. However, Kapoor entered the world of Bollywood, as a producer, in 2001, with the movie Kyo Kii... Main Jhuth Nahi Bolta and hasn't looked back since. Some of her highest grossing movies are Kyaa Kool Hai Hum (2005), Ragini MMS (2011), The Dirty Picture (2011) and Ek Thi Daayan (2013), amongst many others. She is rightfully the recipient of many accolades such as the Great Woman Award and Phalke Iconic Film and Television Producer Award, both in 2012. Regarded as one of the most powerful ladies of India, Kapoor has recently also made a splash in the digital entertainment world with numerous successful web series. Her achievements prove to all of us that with hard work and perseverance, we can truly reach all our goals and shine while doing so, even in a world dominated by men.
With the recent success of Gully Boy (2019), Zoya Akhtar has proved her mettle once again. Akhtar, the holder of a Diploma in Filmmaking from NYU, started her career in Bollywood as an assistant director for Dil Chahta Hai (2001). Her directorial debut, Luck by Chance (2009), not only showcased her directorial skills and writing abilities, but also earned her the Filmfare Award for Best Debut Director. Amongst critical recognition and adoration from fans, Akhtar's work has won her the Filmfare Award for Best Director in 2011 as well. She has since directed and written the story and/or screenplay for movies such as Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara (2011), Talaash (2012) and the recent Gully Boy (2019). She forayed into digital medium through a short story in Netflix's Lust Stories (2018), for which she has also been lauded. Her stories and characters, along with her dedication, truly serve as an inspiration to every woman.
Gauri Shinde is another multi-talented B-town woman known for her versatility. Not only has she directed women-central hits like English Vinglish (2012) and Dear Zindagi (2016), but she also wrote the script and screenplay for them. Both movies have been appreciated by audiences and critics alike for their strong female characters, and the focus on the personal development of women. Beyond collecting fans, she also won many awards for her debut directorial venture, in 2012 and 2013. A graduate of Symbiosis Institute of Mass Communication, Shinde initially started her career in the advertising world. She was a commercial film director before she left for New York to learn filmmaking. Shinde's commitment and professionalism makes her the perfect idol to draw inspiration from.
Sneha Khanwalkar came into the limelight when she was nominated by Filmfare for Best Music Director for the movie Gangs of Wasseypur Part 1 and 2 (2012). This was particularly note-worthy because she was the second woman, in twenty-eight years, to receive a nomination in this category. However, Khanwalkar has been in the world of music long before she was formally recognized as a music director. Some of her most popular compositions can be heard in Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! (2008) and Love Sex aur Dhokha (2010). Trained in classical music since her childhood, Khanwalkar also worked as an intern on the sets of Ishq Vishk (2003). After working on a few short films, she entered Bollywood and has since blessed us with amazing music. Her projects are always unique and out of the box, making Khanwalkar a true find.
If not the music, then the lyrics of some songs surely make their place in our hearts. Ishaqzaade (2012), Meri Pyaari Bindu (2017) and Secret Superstar (2017) all have catchy soundtracks with even better lyrics that never fail to make us sing along. The lyrics for these soundtracks were penned by none other than the delightful Kausar Munir. Munir is no stranger to the music industry and has earned herself numerous awards over the years. Some of her most memorable hits include "Falak Tak" from Tashan (2008), "Mashallah" from Ek Tha Tiger (2012), "Love You Zindagi" from Dear Zindagi (2016) and "Aaj Se Teri" from Padman (2018), to name a few. She is not only a lyricist, but also an accomplished poetess. Her works "Yeh Kavita Abhi Shuru Nahii Hui" and "It Takes Two" have received much appreciation from the community at large and her poetic skill can be seen in her songs as well. Munir has made herself a household name, and hence we'd like to salute her talent and devotion to her calling.
A strong woman is one who strives to create her own path and journey to her goals. While we've discussed a few women of Bollywood whose work have left a mark, there are many others who have strived to entertain us. While we're out of space to mention them all, we admire each and every one of them. These women may have been working from behind the camera but they form the backbone of every film we have enjoyed. We wish they continue to be positive role models for other young women to follow their dreams.
Who is your Bollywood role model? Do let us know in the comment section below!
Writer: Kalpana K.C.
Editors: Mohini N. and Gunia K.
Graphics: Liana G.
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