Bollywood’s women screenwriters

Bollywood’s women screenwriters

Did you know that Hindi film screenwriter Shama Zaidi, who has written scripts for 15 films and series including Garam Hawa, Umrao Jaan, Mandi and Sooraj Ka Saatva Ghoda, studied at the Slade School of Art in London and was an apprentice there. Berliner outfit? His first screenplay, Garam Hawa (Scorching Winds, 1974), the historical Partition drama, co-written with Kaifi Azmi, was all guns blazing – it was India’s entry for the Oscars; screened at the Cannes Film Festival; Won the National Award / Nargis Dutt Award for Best Film on National Integration and the Filmfare Award for Best Writing. Zaidi also introduced Satyajit Ray to the idea of ​​color palette in films while he was making Shatrunj Ke Khiladi. Anubha Yadav’s utterly engaging book Scripting Bollywood: Candid Conversations with the Women Who Write Hindi Cinema is full of such insights. Published by Women Unlimited (a collaborator of Kali for Women, R675), it is a rich treasure trove for both laymen and academics.

This book is a must read for anyone remotely interested in Bollywood and Indian cinema, even though it focuses on female screenwriters from Bollywood/Hindi cinema, whose work spans nearly 50 years. It’s filled with rich Bollywood film history, insightful dialogue, commentaries on the craft of screenwriting, delicious anecdotes, some of which are funny, big bonuses to me. You know it’s a great book when the page margins are covered with my upbeat pencil notes, exclamations, and hearts. And of course, I’m not surprised at all, it shows us- it may or may not be intended that how backward Bollywood is today compared to what some female creators had achieved earlier. Overall, female screenwriters write less than 10 percent of Bollywood films released annually, according to Yadav.

Anubha Yadav, an academic and writer, has spent a decade researching screenwriting studies and taught broadcast studies at Delhi University for 15 years. She is also the author of the novel The Anger of Saintly Men. She has written 14 female Hindi film writers – Shama Zaidi, Sai Paranjpe, Juhi Chaturvedi, Honey Irani, Sooni Taraporewala, Tanuja Chandra, Sabrina Dhawan, Kamna Chandra, Kalpana Lajmi, Urmi Juvekar, Bhavani Iyer, Shibani Bathija, Devika Bhagat and Samyukt Chawla. Sheikh interviewed. , Sai Paranjpe scripted and directed 23 works, including Sparsh and Chashme Baddoor; Disha won awards at Cannes and 17 film festivals.

Certainly, there are top actresses in Bollywood who also double as producers. These include Priyanka Chopra (The Sky Is Pink, Ventilator), Deepika Padukone (Chhapaak, ’83) and Anushka Sharma (NH10, Paatal Lok). But Yadav reminds us that in the period of silence and pre-independence cinema, leading, multi-tasking women had achieved great success, yet were often denied screenwriting credit. Actress Fatma Begum is credited as India’s first female feature director; In fact she was an actor, director, producer and writer; He wrote, directed and produced Bulbul-e-Paristan, 1926, a silent film. Beginning as an actress in 1922, she established her own production company, Fatma Films, by 1926, directing and producing seven films in four years. Jaddan Bai was a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, singer and composer. He set up his own production house Sangeet Movietone and made seven films. bold, she had three children from different partners; His daughter also includes actress Nargis. Actress Protima Dasgupta wrote/directed three films; She divorced her husband and continued to live with her sister-in-law, Begum Para; They had wild parties and made movies together.

Dasgupta produced, directed and acted in his own films and Para also acted. Ismat Chughtai wrote the screenplay/story/dialogues for eight films and directed Fareb. In fact, I would like to add that it is unheard of today for Bollywood actresses who are also producers, take up films as writers, directors, composers or even singers. Devika Rani was the founder of Bombay Talkies’ top studio with her husband Himanshu Rai and a top star; She took film training in Germany; Since the script will be produced for him by Bombay Talkies, it is possible that he actively participated in the story discussion with Niranjan Pal and Rai. But women’s work, including screenwriting, has traditionally been invisible and continues to this day. So, when I write about film, I usually highlight the contributions of women in front of and behind the camera.

UN Women proposes Planet 50-50 by 2030, asking governments to commit to giving women and girls equal opportunities and rights by 2030. I would say increase it to 50 percent Hindi women writers by 2030. In a deep patriarchy, it will take determined, systematic, institutional efforts to support women writers, directors, producers and distributors. The Screenwriters Association (SWA), which is negotiating the rights and credits of screenwriters, may consider holding workshops for women writers, which involve nurturing young women writers to more experienced women writers. Released in part 2 next week.

Meenakshi Shede is the India and South Asia representative for the Berlin International Film Festival, a national award winning critic, curator of festivals around the world and a journalist.
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