5 Women Pioneers of the Motion Pictures

When we study the immensely rich legacy of Indian cinema we come across stalwarts, mostly males whose contribution paved the way for Bollywood. However, over the past couple of years, women are at the forefront, leading the complex art of film-making. This Women’s Day, we draw up a list of top 5 females who are paving the way for distinct story-telling and helping other women dream.

Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari

Powerhouse filmmaker Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari has found her own voice in terms of a mix of commercial and content driven films. In recent times, with films like Bareilly ki Barfi, Nil Battey Sanata, Panga and the recent Faadu, she has cemented her position as a film-maker who breaks the stereotypes and entertains the audience as well. The filmmaker has always been the voice of the Indian youth through her free and focused storytelling. She has also been able in her movies let the female protagonist take charge of the situation, while giving an important role for the men in the plot of the film as well. In 2020, she started her own production house EarthSky pictures with her husband and national award-winning director Nitesh Tiwari. They have quite an eventful 2023 with films like Bawaal (Varun Dhawan and Jhanvi Kapoor) and Tarla Dalal Biopic (Huma Qureshi) set to release.

Deepshikha Deshmukh

Deepshikha Deshmukh, one of the youngest producers of Bollywood started her career with a strong female centric film ‘Sarbjit’ in 2016. The film premiered at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, which was an incredible feat for a first-time producer. She went on to back films like Madari and partnered with Priyanka Chopra to make Sarvann which had powerful social messages. Her production house Pooja Entertainment was the first to start the wheels of Bollywood by starting the shoot of ‘Bell Bottom’ during the pandemic and also had the first direct to OTT release ‘Cuttputtli’ which became the most watched film on OTT in 2022. She has a promising slate for 2023, that boasts of gripping concepts with magnanimous production scale. Their line-up includes ‘Ganapath’ starring Tiger Shroff and Kriti Sanon; coal mine rescue film starring Akshay Kumar & Parineeti Chopra; a comedy drama directed by Mudassar Aziz starring Arjun Kapoor, Rakulpreet and Bhumi Pednekar and the biggest action comedy of 2023 ‘Bade Miyan Chote Miyan’ directed by Ali Abbas Zafar starring Akshay Kumar, Tiger Shroff & Prithviraj Sukuraman. Her production house is paving the way for others to continue entertaining audiences with curated content for different mediums.

Meghna Gulzar

Writer-director Meghna Gulzar, has had a remarkable journey with commercially and critically successful films that focus on social issues. She carved a niche for herself by telling stories with a sensitive lens. Meghna’s style of filmmaking has been always from a different point of view, she works on sensitive topics and addresses real-life situations of commoners. She delivered thought provoking films based on real life stories such as Talvar, Raazi and Chhapaak. In 2023, she has one more anticipated biopic in ‘Sam Bahadur’ starring talented actor Vicky Kaushal based on the real-life Indian Army Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw.

Gauri Shinde

Gauri Shinde made her debut with the highly acclaimed ‘English Vinglish’ starring the late Sridevi. The cultural impact it had could be seen in the fact that schools were taking students to theatres to catch the film, women found inspiration to start their businesses, and much more. Post the success of her debut movie, she also delivered yet another successful film ‘Dear Zindagi’ starring Alia Bhatt. She along with her husband and critically acclaimed director R Balki started their production journey (Hope Productions) with English Vinglish and had a very successful 2022 with their thriller ‘Chup: Revenge of the Artist’. 11 years after its release, her movie ‘English Vinglish’ was recently released in Mainland China and received rave reviews.

Zoya Akhtar

Zoya Akhtar known for directing, writing and producing youth driven entertaining films is the co-owner of Tiger Baby Films along with Reema Kagti. Zoya Akhtar’s style of filmmaking is what it has emerged to be known now, which is that that she never falters the line of being too offbeat or too mainstream at any point. She has received accolades for her past directorial films such Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Dil Dhadakne Do and Gully Boy. In 2023, she has a wide-ranging line-up with ‘Archies’ featuring Suhana Khan, Khushi Kapoor, Agastya Nanda and others in key roles and the second instalment of the critically acclaimed series ‘Made in Heaven 2’ starring Arjun Mathur and Sobhita Dhulipala. Her production house also has ‘Jee Le Zara’, starring Priyanka Chopra, Katrina Kaif and Alia Bhatt and ‘Kho Gaye Hum Kahaan’ starring Siddhant Chaturvedi, Ananya Panday and Adarsh Gourav.

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