Popular choreographer Farah Khan, who won as many as six Filmfare Awards and a single National Film Award for Best Choreography turned director with Main Hoon Na (2004) produced by Shah Rukh Khan‘s the Red Chillies Entertainment. The film was packed with emotion, drama, action, and comedy. In nutshell, it had all the ‘masala’ necessary for a Bollywood potboiler a la Manmohan Desai kind of film. The film was not only super hit but also bagged Filmfare Best Director Award nomination for Farah Khan. Inspired by the success, Shah Rukh Khan repeated her in his next home production Om Shanti Om (2007). Yet again, Farah succeeded in directing a super-duper hit film. However, after the success of 2 films, some misunderstanding developed between Farah and SRK and the two parted but soon they united to give hit a hat-trick of success with their third film Happy New Year (2014).
Tanuja Chandra in the late ’90s made her name as a competent women filmmaker expert in making the woman-oriented films. She rose to instant fame with the huge success of Dushman (1998) and Sangharsh (1999). Both the films handled the subject of atrocity against women brilliantly and were a major success at the box-office and also won critic’s applause. Later she made many films but could not attain the same popularity. Yet films like Sur – The Melody of Life (2002) and Film Star (2005), Zindaggi Rocks (2006) won favourable reviews from critics.
Kalpana Lajmi the niece of filmmaker Guru Dutt had direction in her blood. Incidentally, she had the honour of making her debut as an assistant director under India’s greatest film wizard Shyam Benegal. After making few documentaries, Kalpana Lajmi made her debut as a full fletched director with Ek Pal (1986), starring Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah, and Farooq Sheikh. The film won rave reviews but was a flop at the box office. Undaunted she went ahead and directed the critically acclaimed Rudaali (1993) starring Dimple Kapadia. The film won a National Film Award for Dimple Kapadia as Best Actress and made Kalpana Lajmi immortal in Indian cinema. Further with Daman (2001), Kalpana Lajmi succeeded in exploring the talent of Raveena Tandon and the film fetched her only National Film Award for Best Actress.
Daughter of Javed Akhtar and sister of Farahan Akhtar, Zoya Akhtar learned the art of filmmaking from New York University Film School. Before becoming an independent director, Zoya assisted some of the talented film directors like Mira Nair. She also worked as assistant director for her Brother Farhan Akhtar‘s in films Lakshya and Dil Chahta Hai. Finally, she made her debut with Luck By Chance (2009) but the film that made her a star filmmaker was her second film Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011) and with the latest box –office hit Gully Boy (2019) starring Ranveer Singh, Zoya had become the most sought after film director by top production houses!
These female directors will inspire upcoming females to venture into direction