Posted by Vivek on March 9, 2011 | No Comments

This week is week of the International Woman Day. With that we celebrate women in Indian cinema, in a series which will cover behind the scenes and also in front of the camera. In the first of the series, we go behind the scene:

Indian television and film has a standing in the world, due to the women who have provided the push and the quality from behind.

After finishing her Sociology degree from Miranda House, New Delhi, where she was involved in street theater as an interest on the side, MIRA NAIR moved to Harvard University, US, for further studies on a full scholarship. Clearly the makings of a bright academic mind. This mind was going to be channeled creatively, first in making documentary films and then she arrived at the global cinema scene with a bang…SALAAM BOMBAY. Written in collaboration with her Harvard buddy, SOONI TARPOREVALA, and directed by Mira, SALAAM BOMBAY was nominated for the Best Foreign Film at the Oscar’s. This was just the beginning of the journey, which is still going very strong. MONSOON WEDDING, NAMESAKE, MISSISSIPPI MASALA, VANITY FAIR, KAMA SUTRA, THE PEREZ FAMILY. Like them or dislike them, the fact remains that Mira has boldly gone to tread every genre there is and stands right on top as one of the most recognizable Indian faces in the global media power list.

Mira’s NAMESAKE also had another unique collaboration, that of Bollywood’s finest Art Director, SHARMISHTA ROY. There is a saying that behind every successful venture is a woman’s hand. No denying that when you consider the films/television shows that has Sharmishta’s art direction: DILWALE DULHANIYA, KOFFEE WITH KARAN, BUNTY AUR BABLI, VEER ZARA, KAL HO NA HO, TAAL, KABHIE KHUSHIE KABHIE GHAM, MOHABATTEIN, SOLDIER, etc.

If you are a Punjabi and you are a Delhiwalli and you dominate world cinema, then you must be Mira Nair right? Well partly, cause there is another Delhiwalli Punjaban, who is also equally well known and well respected in the global stage, DEEPA MEHTA. In an ironically similar journey as Mira’s, Deepa graduated from Delhi University although her specialization was Philosophy. Also starting off making documentaries, moving to North America (Canada), Deepa made her feature film debut with the Om Puri starrer, SAM AND ME, in 1991. This was followed by CAMILLA. Deepa fully came into the international limelight with her trilogy, FIRE, EARTH and finally WATER. In fact, WATER made it to the final nomination of the Academy Awards.

While Mira and Deepa were  rising up the global cinematic ladder from their base in the New World, across from the “pond” that is the Atlantic Ocean, another Punjaban (gosh what is it with these Punjabi women!!) was making her way in England. GURINDER CHADHA, from the great “brown” burb of Southall had got her initiation in media by working as a BBC radio reporter, and moved from there to film production. She also, like Mira and Deepa, then moved to documentaries. Gurinder’s first feature film was BHAAJI ON THE BEACH, which in 1993 won a whole host of awards. Her WHAT’s COOKING was the Opening Night Film of the 2000 Sundance Film Festival and was the first British script to be invited to the Sundance Institute’s Writer’s Lab. All this was just a set up though, the tackle before the goal and what a goal…BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM became a global sensation and suddenly the “musclewoman from Southall,” was known all over the world.

In 1994 the satellite television boom was about to begin In India. Consumerism has become the order to the day and entertainment, the requirement of the hour. Channels were creeping in. During this time, EKTA KAPOOR was beginning to become a force to reckon with in the Indian Television industry. Today, if television and consumerism have forged a unique alliance, it is largely thanks to Ekta Kapoor. Her business acumen were evident in that she saw, earlier than most could, what television could become and while a lot of people have a vision, she had the desire and the chutzpah to act on that vision.

If it were not for these “behind the scenes” women, Indian cinema and television would not have been even a tenth of where it stands, proudly, as a global powerhouse

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