Bollywood: 5 mainstream films directed by women / 5 heroines
1. Om Shanti Om (dir.: Farah Khan / starring: Deepika Padukone)
Director Farah Khan started as a top choreographer and went on to become the most commercially successful female director in India. Her movies feature the biggest stars, have mass appeal, and draw huge box office returns. The reincarnation romcom Om Shanti Om is an homage to the many iconic eras of Bollywood, starring the King of Bollywood himself, Shah Rukh Khan, and Deepika Padukone, currently the top heroine in Bollywood, in her debut performance. It also features about 90% of Bollywood in countless cameos.
Aisha is an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma (or perhaps more directly of Amy Heckerling’s Clueless) transported to present-day Delhi high society. While NYU-educated director Rajshree Ojha was not entirely pleased by the final cut of her movie (shaped by actor/producer Anil Kapoor, father of the star Sonam), it is still a nice romcom with lots of cute moments (and outfits). Ojha later went on to make offbeat parallel movies like Chaurahen.
Zoya Akhtar comes from an exceptionally talented Bollywood family, and is one of the most critically and commercially successful directors/screenwriters in India. Her first real hit was Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (co-written with best friend Reema Kagti), a road-trip movie set in Spain starring Hrithik Roshan, Abhay Deol, her own brother Farhan Akhtar, Katrina Kaif and indie darling Kalki Koechlin. The poetry of Javed Akhtar (Zoya’s father) was incorporated in the movie in voice-overs. It’s beautiful, clever, and just damn cool.
4. Dil Dhadakne Do (dir.: Zoya Akhtar / starring: Priyanka Chopra)
Yes, another Zoya Akhtar movie because DDD was one of my favourite movies of 2015. It’s got family drama, comedy, romance, feminism, and some gorgeous European scenery. Zoya once again roped in a gem of a cast, including Anil Kapoor, Shefali Shetty, Ranveer Singh, Anushka Sharma, Rahul Bose, Farhan Akhtar and of course Priyanka Chopra. The script was co-written with Reema Kagti.
Talaash is a neo-noir police thriller / psychological drama featuring some of the best actors ever in Bollywood: Aamir Khan, Rani Mukherjee, Kareena Kapoor, Rajkummar Rao and Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Reema and Zoya Akhtar wrote the script together, and the movie became a critical and commercial success. Out of all the movies in this list, Talaash is the only one who deals with the lives of marginalized people such as sex workers in Mumbai’s red light district. A moving and intelligent work.