Women break into another
male bastion in Bollywood
By Jivraj Burman
Dec 15 (IANS) Savita Singh, Sharmistha Roy, Amala Papuri and
Fawzia Fatima - these names may not ring a bell, but they
are the new women technicians who have made a mark in Bollywood
and carved a niche in the otherwise male-dominated industry.
Hindi film industry is beginning to see a number of female
executive producers, first assistant directors, cinematographers
and even sound engineers who have been learning the ropes
of filmmaking and film trade.
them, the gritty one who has come to limelight is Savita,
who worked as director of photography in Ram Gopal Varma's
recent release "Phoonk". Pooja Sharma is another
cinematographer who has opted for a career behind the screen.
Amala has chosen the most "un-ladylike" profession
of audiography and so has Fawzia.
Meenal Agrawal has chosen production design, Hetal Dedhia
has selected the lighting department to be their chosen fields.
we have crashed into the male bastion. But we have done so
to prove ourselves and not to compete with anyone else,"
said Meenal, who worked on movies like "Bheja Fry"
and "Mixed Doubles".
entry of these women into the industry was a well-planned
move on their part. They had talents to prove and it was acknowledged.
to Mumbai-based sociologist Maya Mehta, liberalisation of
the Indian economy and its consequences contributed in a way
towards liberalising the mindset of womenfolk in India.
of the economy threw open many opportunities and women who
had the inclination and talent picked them up. Corporatisation
of Bollywood provided a reassurance to the professional woman
to enter this new organised sector with faith," Mehta
force that drove them to the industry, Mehta pointed out,
was the change of thoughtprocess on the part of women who
were ready to get out of the cocoon.
course, women had been in a dominant position in Bollywood
earlier as well.
In the 1930s, through the 1940s and 1950s, ladies like Ruby
Meyers (Sulochana), Devika Rani and Mary Ann Evans (Fearless
Nadia) had held a commanding position in the industry when
women in general were forced to play second fiddle to men
until as recently as the 1980s, women never dared to encroach
upon the technical domain of Bollywood as it was considered
exclusive male territory.
in the early 1980s, a lanky and slender girl called Kamla
Deviah was seen strutting around the sets of producer Pranlal
Mehta's "Hum Se Badhkar Kaun" and giving orders
to the unit hands with assurance and authority, she made a
sight never before seen on the sets of any Hindi movie.
Kamla was one of Bollywood's first female professionals to
do the job of a production controller, a job that required
the skill of men management.
Kamla disappeared from the scene all too soon, after working
for movies like "Dharam Aur Kanoon" (1984) and "Love
86" (1986). After she left, the only woman professional
to be working on Hindi movies was choreographer Saroj Khan
(Nirmala Sadhu Khan).
disciple of dance master B. Sohanlal, Saroj Khan rose to fame
with Shekhar Kapur's "Mr. India" (1987) and never
looked back. She is as active today as she was in the past.
is one place where more than the gender, it is one's talent
that counts. I never felt any resistance when I turned independent
choreographer with 'Nagina' in 1986 even though the profession
was then dominated by men," Saroj told IANS.
a true sense, the influx of women professionals into Bollywood
started only in the 1990s, even though professionals like
director Sai Paranjape and costume designer Bhanu Athaiya
had already been impacting the industry.
lyricist-fimmaker Gulzar's daughter, Meghna Gulzar, instead
of opting for an acting career, chose direction as her profession,
all she intended to do was to prove herself," said veteran
journalist Ali Peter John.
Ali added, "yesteryear star Jeetendra's daughter, Ekta
Kapoor, could have made her debut in movies straightway had
she wished. If she chose television instead, it was because
she wanted to prove her talent in a new territory on her own
own daughter, Swati, is also into film direction and has not
followed in her father's secure footsteps.
Renu Saluja, a graduate from the Film and Television Institute
of India (FTII), Pune, turned professional film editor in
the late 1980s, she raised many eyebrows as the profession
was then teeming with male editors in moviedom.
by successfully editing a film like Govind Nihalani's 'Ardh
Satya', she proved skeptics wrong. My brother Saeed and director
Vidhu Vinod Chopra, who had encouraged her in the beginning
of her career, were more than delighted that a girl could
do a man's job as successfully," said filmmaker Aziz
does Mirza think of the influx of woman technicians into the
have no reasons to complain as each one of them is doing a
great job in their respective professions. They are sincere
and dedicated, the reasons why they succeed faster than their
male counterparts," he said.
Sharmistha Roy opted to be an art director, she, of course,
chose her father, Sudhendu Roy's profession. But, if over
time, she has become a regular with Yash Raj Films, Mukta
Arts and Dharma Productions, it is not because of her father's
connections with these respectable Bollywood banners, but
due to her thorough knowledge of the trade.
the field of direction, there were a number of women who tried
their hand, but couldn't make it big. Farah Khan, who shifted
profession from choreography to direction with aplomb, was
the first to make her presence felt with the blockbuster "Main
Hoon Na". And Reema Kagti followed suit with "Honeymoon
was a conscious decision when I made my career transition
and, having done that, I worked hard not to be a failure and
risk the grins and sneers of the industry. My hard work has
paid off," Farah said.
however, refused to admit that her star connections made the
job easier for her.
course, my industry connections helped, but at the end of
the day, it is my work that is seen on the screen," Farah