Similar to Indian society, Bollywood is also male dominated in many ways - be it the theme of the movie or remuneration to the actor or the professional lifespan. Unfortunately, the bias is also affecting the few female directors who are coming to the fore. Though their films are critically acclaimed, commercial success is eluding them for long.
Sai Paranjpaye has made around a dozen films, most of which have been appreciated by connoisseurs. But amongst names like Jadu Ka Shankh, Begaar, Sikander, Dabcherry Milk Project, Captain Laxmi, Freedom From Fear, Sparsh, Books That Talk, Angootha Chhaap, Disha, Papeeha, Chooriyan, Saaz and Bhago Bhoot, only Chasme Baddoor and Katha did well at the box-office.
Some of Kalpana Lazmi's notable works are Ek Pal, Rudaali, Darmiyaan, Daman, Kyun and Chingari. Actor-turned-director Aparna Sen is quite popular in Bengali cinema. 36 Chowringhee Lane , 15 Park Avenue and Mr. and Mrs. Iyer are some of her acclaimed films, apart from Vishwas, Bombay Talkies, Sagina, Iman Dharam, Kotwal Saheb, Paroma and Ek Din Achanak.
Then there are Tanuja Chandra, Meera Nair, Deepa Mehta, Leena Yadav and Bhavna Talwar, who are yet to taste proper commercial success. The only exception has been Farah Khan who debuted with the hit Main Hoon Na. Her second film, Om Shanti Om, also looks promising.
Trade analyst Indu Mirani says: "When a woman is in the director's seat, people generally think the film deals with a social cause or is a women-oriented one." At the same time, Indu feels that it would be unjust to label all women directors unsuccessful, just because there are so few of them in the industry.
The days to come will sweep in the change, feels Indu, with more new female entrants in the field. If all goes well, Ahana Deol, Deepti Naval and Manisha Koirala will soon be calling shots on the sets and laughing all the way to the bank.