For years, the art of filmmaking has been associated with men, but there are some women who have broken through the stereotype and proved that gender can’t stand in the way of dreams.
1. Zoya Akhtar
A film director and screenwriter, Zoya has many successful films like Dil Dhadakne Do, Gully Boy, Luck by Chance and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.
2. Mira Nair
With films and shows like Mississippi Masala, Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love, The Namesake, Monsoon Wedding, Salaam Bombay! and A Suitable Boy, under her name, Mira Nair has become a household name.
3. Konkona Sen Sharma
This actress, writer, and director stepped behind the camera to make A Death in the Gunj and left us in awe of her storytelling.
4. Deepa Mehta
Best known for her Elements Trilogy, Fire, Earth, and Water, Deepa’s contribution to cinema as a film director and screenwriter has been tremendous.
5. Aparna Sen
With nine National Film Awards and a Padma Shri to her name, this film director, screenwriter and actor has made films like 36 Chowringhee Lane, Paroma and Goynar Baksho in Bengali.
6. Gauri Shinde
After just 2 films, English Vinglish and Dear Zindagi, Gauri has proved that she is one of the finest filmmakers in Bollywood.
7. Alankrita Shrivastava
She has directed notable movies and TV shows like Lipstick Under My Burkha, Made in Heaven, Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare and Netflix’s latest – Bombay Begums.
8. Meghna Gulzar
With an impressive list of films to her name, including Filhaal…, Talvar, Raazi and Chhapaak, Meghna’s journey and growth has been an inspiration.
9. Reema Kagti
After working as an assistant director for movies like Dil Chahta Hai, Lakshya, Lagaan, she now has films like Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd., Talaash and Gold to her name.
10. Shonali Bose
Her film Amu won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in English and she followed it with commendable work like Margarita with a Straw and The Sky Is Pink.
11. Nandita Das
12. Farah Khan Kunder
One of Bollywood’s most entertaining filmmakers, Farah has given us cult films like Main Hoon Na and Om Shanti Om. She surely has a knack for masala films that we love.
13. Fatma Begum
In 1920s, Farma Begum made her debut as a director and is considered to be the first female film director of Indian cinema. No prints of her film, Bulbul-e-Paristan exist now, but it said to be a high budget production and has been described as a fantasy film featuring many special effects. She began a legacy that paved the way for filmmakers around the world.
14. Leena Yadav
A film director, producer, screenwriter and editor, Leena made her feature film directorial debut with Shabd and then went on to make films like Teen Patti, Parched and Rajma Chawal.
15. Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari
After a successful career in advertising, Ashwiny made it to Bollywood with films like Nil Battey Sannata, Bareilly Ki Barfi and Panga.
16. Sai Paranjpye
She is the director of the award-winning movies Sparsh, Katha, Chasme Buddoor and Disha, and was awarded the Padma Bhushan title in 2006 for her work in Indian cinema.
17. Anjali Menon
With a national award to her name, Anjali has directed films like Kerala Cafe, Manjadikuru and Bangalore Days, making her one of the finest in Malayalam cinema.
18. Rima Das
Her critically acclaimed Assamese language film, Village Rockstars, won several national and international awards. Written, directed, edited, and produced by her, it was India’s official entry for the 90th Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category.
19. Kiran Rao
An Indian film producer, screenwriter, and director, Kiran’s film Dhobi Ghat (Mumbai Diaries) put her on the map. She was also an assistant director in Lagaan and Swades: We, the People.
This brilliant Indian film actor has directed Hindi, Malayalam and English films like Mitr, My Friend, Phir Milenge, Kerala Cafe and Mumbai Cutting.
21. Tanuja Chandra
This film director and writer is famous for co-writing Dil To Pagal Hai and directing Sangharsh, Sur – The Melody of Life and Qarib Qarib Singlle.
22. Sudha K Prasad
Working predominantly in Tamil and Telugu cinema, Sudha made a mark with her films like Irudhi Suttru (Saala Khadoos in Hindi), Soorarai Pottru and Paava Kadhaigal.
23. Gitanjali Rao
A theatre actor, animator and film maker, Gitanjali’s latest animation feature Bombay Rose has received raving reviews.
24. Anusha Rizvi
Formerly a journalist, this director and screenwriter’s directorial debut, Peepli Live premiered at the Sundance Film Festival 2010.
25. Tannishtha Chatterjee
This actor and director made her directorial debut with Roam Rome Mein, which she also acted in. Her second film, Unpaused released in 2020 on Amazon Prime Video.
26. Aruna Raje
This veteran filmmaker has co-directed films like Shaque, Gehrayee and Sitam with her ex-husband Vikas Desai. Her most recent work released in 2019, a Marathi film called Firebrand.
27. Nishtha Jain
Best known for her documentaries like Gulabi Gang, Lakshmi and Me and City of Photos, Nishtha is one of the finest filmmakers in the country.
28. Priya Krishnaswamy
A 2-time National Award winning Indian film producer, writer, director and editor, Priya works predominantly in Hindi and Tamil cinema. Her films Gangoobai and Baaram were wildly praised.
29. Vijaya Mehta
A Marathi film director, theatre director and an actor, Vijaya is the founding member of theatre group, Rangayan and has directed films like Smriti Chitre, Shakuntalam, Rao Saheb, Pestonjee and more.
30. Ismat Chughtai
An Urdu novelist, short story writer, and filmmaker, Ismat wrote about female sexuality and femininity, middle-class gentility, and class conflict. She co-directed films like Fareb and Lala Rukh in the 1950s.