It’s not just about our cinema. Even abroad, in Hollywood, you can count the number of eminent female film directors on the fingers of one hand.
Kathryn Bigelow doesn't count.
In India, female filmmakers have mostly utilised screen time to make films about women’s issues rather than focusing on creating a universal language. There was a time when a film by Aparna Sen/ Kalpana Lajmi/ Aruna Raje meant a film where the men would be portrayed as week or brutish, or both, giving the female protagonist a reason to escape patriarchal obligations.
Many of the most memorable films by women in the 1970s, such as Aparna Sen’s Paroma, Kalpana Lajmi’s Ek Pal and Aruna Raje’s Rihaee was about adultery.
However, Zoya Akhtar, Reema Kagti and Farah Khan and before them, to some extent, Tanuja Chandra, broke the rules of feminine film-making in Bollywood, allowing the feminine gaze to fall not merely on social issues but also cinematic entertainment.
On the same note, it’s heartening to see Divya Khosla Kumar don the director’s hat once again after the surprisingly well-received Yaarian two years ago. Divya is music baron Bhushan Kumar’s better-half. A beautiful woman who once played Akshay Kumar’s co-star in a film called Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Saathiyon (which had nothing to do with the hawala racket) and then quickly took voluntary retirement to be Ms Tycoon.
Divya could easily have gotten her husband to produce films where she played the lead. Instead she has chosen to go behind the camera. There again, she could get her husband to snap a finger and buy a bagful of A-listers to prop up her projects. However, Divya has proven herself smarter than all the other star-wives. She's been making films in tightly-controlled budgets with new or semi-new faces and smashing, chart-busting music score.
It is the Aashiqui formula once adopted by the T Series company to mint millions by spotlighting music as the star-attraction in films. Divya Khosla Kumar tried the formula successfully in her maiden directorial effort. She does it again in Sanam Re.
The songs are already a hit. Unlike the other release this week, Sanam Re needs to make a relatively small amount at the box-office to be considered a profit earner. And therein lies Divya Kumar Khosla intelligence. You cut production costs, save on the budget and everyone goes home happy. Well done, Divya!