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Female Directors : Is Bollywood Catching Up With Hollywood?

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"Pain and sadness can be commercial too" says Reema Kagti, director of Talaash, a Bollywood film releasing Friday, November 30 in the UK. Shot on location in Bombay and London, Talaash has a few other unusual dimensions to its credit.

Most obviously it is directed by a director who is a woman and its screen-writing credits are shared by a female duo (including Kagti.) Of course it's rare to find female directors even in Hollywood. Kathryn Bigelow was the very first woman to win the Academy Award for best director for The Hurt Locker in 2010--which went onto scoop six Oscars the same year--trouncing ex-husband James Cameron's three for Avatar in the process. As of 2011 women made up only 5 percent of directors in Hollywood and that's down from 7 percent in 2010.

So I wager, that with Kagti joining the roll call of female directors in Bollywood including Farah Khan (Main Hoon Na - 2004, I am here for you, Tees Maar Khan - 2010, The Con Man, ), Zoya Akthar (Luck by Chance - 2009 , Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara - 2011, You only live once), Leena Yadav (Shabd - 2005, Word & Teen Patti - 2010, Three Cards) , Kiran Rao (Mumbai Diaries - 2010 ), and Anusha Rizvi (Peepli Live -2010) --add Mira Nair who started in India (The Namesake - 2006, The Reluctant Fundamentalist - 2012) it would seem that Bollywood is fast catching up in giving a new generation of women a chance to wear the pants - on the sets of a film at-least.

In fact Kagti mentions Mira Nair's Salaam Bombay, as being pivotal in inspiring her to become film maker. Early trailers of Talaash (which translates to The Quest), pose the question Are you ready for the truth? The trailer's narrative while being dramatic in true Bollywood style, feels more darker more than is the norm for a commercial Bollywood film, delving into themes of loss, despair and confusion; with a nod to the human fallacy of having secrets in the past.

Even with a successful first film, Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. (2007) getting Talaash made was no cake walk, "it was my lowest period" says Kagti--who confesses that if not a director she would have probably pursed her second love of playing poker professionally-- "and I had just signed up in the National Poker tournament in Goa, intending to follow it more seriously, when Aamir called agreeing to the project."

With underwater scenes shot at Pinewood Studios, London and a star studded Bollywood cast of well-known actors Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor and Rani Mukerji ensuring its mainstream appeal--while making on location shoots in Bombay a virtual nightmare--it will be interesting to see how well the movie does with the overseas audience in the UK. Either way, as a cheeky comment on the Talaash trailers on YouTube states and some viewers agree: atleast its not some senseless wham! bam! Salman Khan movie. (Though I admit I do enormously enjoy these too!) Talaash, releases 30 November in the UK. Laxmi Hariharan is a writer & technophile. Find her at http://www.laxmihariharan.com
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