Top 5 Best Female Directors In India Of All Time: Women Shaping Bollywood

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best five bollywood directors in india
Source: bollywoodxplorer

This blog is about women shaping Bollywood and to talk about top five Indian directors who have reshaped the making of a movie. In the Bollywood industry, the role of director has historically been dominated by men. For years, the cinematic experience seemed to exclusively bear the strokes of male visionaries, leaving fewer chances for women to step into the director’s chair.

However, as we look back on the past decade, a remarkable and heartening shift has unfolded. A new wave of talented and passionate female directors has risen to the forefront, believing in their craft and reshaping the very essence of movie direction. 

This shift has not only breathed fresh air into the industry but has also redefined the way movies are conceived, crafted, and presented to the audience.

Over the years, a wave of pioneering women has emerged, eager to make their mark and tell their stories through the lens of a camera. Their dedication, and unwavering commitment have produced spectacular results, elevating their movies on the path to success.

There have been some women who have defined the art of direction by putting their hands on a camera, like Aparna Sen, whose masterpiece “36 Chowringhee Lane” (1981) remains a testament to the power of female-directed narratives. 

Similarly, the Sai Paranjpye etched her name in cinematic history with the delightful “Chashme Buddoor” (1981), proving that a woman’s perspective behind the camera could be just as entertaining and enchanting as that of male directors. Their creativity knows no bounds, and the industry has wholeheartedly embraced their unique insights, acknowledging their filmmaking. 

In this blog, we embark on a captivating journey through the annals of Bollywood’s evolution, talking about top five female Indian directors who have shifted the paradigm and illuminated the path for future generations. With each frame they capture and each story they tell, they continue to transform not only the film industry but also the collective imagination of a nation. 

You might also be interested in an article –  list of directors who were actresses first and then became movie directors 

List of the Top 5 Best Female Directors in India of All Time

1. Farah Khan

Farah Khan
'Farah Khan pose for a camera'

Farah Khan is an exceptional powerhouse of talent in the vibrant realm of Bollywood.

Her journey commenced as a choreographer for the movie ‘Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander,’ propelling her into the spotlight. Over time, she seamlessly transitioned into one of the most successful female directors in the industry.

Her directorial debut, ‘Main Hoon Na,’ marked a significant milestone in her career. Starring the iconic Shah Rukh Khan, alongside co-actors such as Suniel Shetty, Sushmita Sen, Zayed Khan, and Amrita Rao, the film was produced under Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment production house. The movie’s resounding success in 2004 earned Farah Khan the Filmfare Award for Best Director.

However, it was ‘Om Shanti Om’ that truly cemented her position as an unparalleled director in India. This movie garnered widespread acclaim for its story and direction, establishing Farah Khan’s reputation for delivering compelling family entertainers. The movie was considered a festival of captivating songs and exceptional performances by the actors. Its overwhelming success, raking in over 80 crores at the box office in 2007, further attested to Farah Khan’s directorial brilliance.

Fueled by the triumph of her previous works, Farah Khan went on to create ‘Tees Maar Khan’ featuring Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif, followed by ‘Happy New Year’ starring Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone. Both films garnered immense popularity, with ‘Happy New Year’ achieving remarkable success, amassing a staggering 199.95 crore in India alone. 

Looking at her success, she should be considered as one of the top five female Indian directors. 

In Farah Khan’s long career as a director, she delivered three blockbuster hits, firmly establishing her as an unparalleled and accomplished director in the history of Indian cinema. Her willingness to collaborate with exceptional talents and her knack for weaving captivating stories on a grand canvas has truly set her apart. With each project, Farah Khan continues to redefine herself in the fields of Acting, choreography, hosting, and directing in her inimitable style. She will be seen in the upcoming movie, ‘Khichdi’ for a cameo.

2. Zoya Akhtar

Zoya Akhtar instagram

Zoya Akhtar is among the top 5 best female directors of all time in India. stands out as a director who deeply intrigues the younger generation. Her creativity and relentless dedication to her craft are impeccable. The talent she has comes from her parents, whose father is a renowned screenwriter, lyricist, and poet, Javed Akhtar, and whose mother is actress Honey Irani. 

Her directorial ventures have undoubtedly shifted audience perspectives, leaving an indelible mark. After completing her film studies in New York, Zoya embarked on her directorial journey with “Luck By Chance” in 2009. This debut showcased her distinct narrative approach. The movie also garnered the admiration of Bollywood. In recognition of her achievements, she clinched the Filmfare Award for Best Debut Director in 2010. In comparison to the films being produced at the time, the plot of ‘Luck By Chance’ was very unique.

Even today, it is said to be a fascinating movie for many youngsters. However, the turning point for Zoya Akhtar as a director came after “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” released on July 15, 2011, which led her to true stardom. This masterpiece, starring Hrithik Roshan, Farhan Akhtar, Abhay Deol, Katrina Kaif, and Kalki Koechlin, placed all warm wishes across generations for the film and also became a box-office triumph. The movie was showered with critical acclaim and clinched prestigious awards, including many Filmfare awards. In all these years, Zoya continued to weave her magic, writing and directing movies like “Dil Dhadakne Do” and “Gully Boy” which resonated deeply with real-life experiences. Both films not only won the hearts of the audience but also raked in substantial box-office success.

Beyond these, Zoya lent her creative vision to projects such as segments in “Bombay Talkies” “Ghost Stories” and “Lust Stories”. What truly sets her apart is her willingness to embrace diverse genres, a characteristic that has solidified her status as one of the top 5 best female directors of all time in India. Her ongoing exploration of unique narratives ensures that audiences are continually treated to a tapestry of unconventional stories on the cinematic canvas. She continues her exploration of distinct scripts to present some of the most unusual stories on the silver screen. Her recently released series, Made in Heaven, is getting appreciated by everyone. 

3. Meghna Gulzar

Meghna Gulzar in top 5 directors

Ranked third on our list is the talented writer and director, Meghna Gulzar. Her talent comes from her renowned parents, the famous poet and lyricist Gulzar, and the versatile actress Rakhee.

After taking a filmmaking course through formal training in New York, Meghna Gulzar started her creative journey. She first began as a screenwriter for her father’s directorial venture, ‘Hu Tu Tu’. As she was assisting with her father’s movies, she also started drafting her own ideas for making a movie.

The big screen welcomed her directorial debut, ‘Filhaal’, featuring Sushmita Sen and Tabu, in 2002, soon followed by her second project, ‘Just Married’ with Fardeen Khan and Isha Deol. While these initial attempts didn’t go as desired outcome for her and both movies failed to create magic on the big screen. 

After a long break, she came back to the director’s chair. Meghna tasted sweet success with the 2015 hit movie “Talvar”, a real-life drama headlined by Irrfan Khan, Konkona Sen Sharma, and Gajraj Rao. The film, which was liked by audiences, became a box office hit. Notably, it secured awards for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing, and Best Director.

She then came up with ‘Raazi’ (2018), a spy thriller starring Alia Bhatt and Vicky Kaushal. The film not only achieved superhit status but also collected nearly 200 crores globally, redefining Meghna Gulzar’s commitment. Her exceptional talents were acknowledged with the prestigious Best Director award at the Filmfare ceremony. 

Fueled by self-belief and a desire to spotlight transformative stories from real lives, Meghna brought another real-life story into the life of cinema with the movie ‘Chhapaak’ (2022), a narrative centered on an acid attack survivor portrayed by Deepika Padukone. The film garnered critical acclaim and secured accolades from Filmfare and the Dada Saheb Phalke Awards. 

Meghna’s upcoming project, ‘Sam Bahadur‘, featuring Vicky Kaushal, promises another triumph in her impressive career. With some of the best films of all time, she has explored real-life events in a way that has inspired audiences to want to see more stories like these in the cinema hall. Inarguably, Meghna Gulzar has etched her name as one of the top five female directors in India. Her commitment to portraying stories that touch hearts and spark change makes her an important part of Indian cinema.

4. Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari

Ashwini iyer director

Our next top director in India is the name that shines bright in the world of Indian cinema, Ashwini Iyer Tiwari, a writer and director.

She started her filmmaking journey after a successful career in advertising. Her first venture into directing came true with the movie “Nil Battey Sannata” in 2016. The film received widespread acclaim and positive reviews. Her exceptional direction led her to win the Filmfare Award for Best Debut Director. She continued to shine as she ventured into different genres. She then did a remake of the movie “Nil Battey Sannata” in Tamil as ‘Amma Kanakku’.

However, it was her commercial hit “Bareilly Ki Barfi,” starring Ayushmann Khurrana, Rajkumar Rao, and Kriti Sanon, that brought her into the limelight. The film, made with a budget of Rs. 20 crore, surpassed expectations by earning over 50 crore at the box office. Her remarkable choice of cast and her adept direction earned her the Filmfare Award for Best Director in 2018.

Ashwini Iyer Tiwari’s filmmaking journey continued with “Panga” in 2020, featuring the queen Kangana Ranaut. The film was widely appreciated and generated positive word of mouth. Throughout her career, Ashwini has been known for her knack in creating impactful, women-centric movies.

She is also being recognized as one of the most powerful women in the 2016 Femina Poll. She also graced the pages of Grazia Women Achievers magazine in the same year. Talking about her OTT journey, Ashwini and her husband, Nitesh Tiwari, ventured into co-producing the 7-part series “Break Point,” a narrative centered around legendary tennis players Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi. 

Ashwini also directed the recent drama series “Faadu” with Saiyami Kher and Pavail Gulati in the lead, which was released last year. Ashwini Iyer Tiwari’s journey in the film industry has showcased her creative talents and dedication.

Her transition from advertising to filmmaking and her knack for storytelling has carved a unique niche for her in the industry. Her commitment to portraying women’s narratives and her recent ventures into the world of OTT platforms demonstrate her boundless creativity and determination. 

5. Gauri Shinde

Gauri Shinde

The last name on the list of the top five female directors in India is none other than Gauri Shinde.

A screenwriter and unique film director. Gauri Shinde has been one of the most wonderful directors to have directed a movie with two of the most successful superstars of Indian cinema. She directed her first movie, ‘English Vinglish, with the late Sri Devi, which was also her comeback movie. Sridevi’s impeccable acting and Gauri’s insightful direction made this film a beloved success. The movie’s impact was profound and inspiring; many women went on to follow their entrepreneurial dreams, mirroring the character’s journey in the film. Its acclaim extended beyond borders as it was selected for the esteemed Toronto International Film Festival.

Gauri Shinde’s debut masterpiece garnered her the Best Debut Director award in 2013, recognizing her remarkable talent. The film’s plot and relatability connected with audiences.

Following this success, Gauri Shinde continued to impress with her second project, ‘Dear Zindagi.’ Collaborating with the iconic Badshah of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan, and the talented Alia Bhatt. The story of the movie resonated deeply with the younger generation. The film’s fresh storyline contributed to its immense popularity, leading to a global box office gross of 135.47 crore. 

Gauri Shinde’s cinematic contributions exemplify the incredible potential of female directors in the Indian film industry. As her influence continues to ripple through the industry, more and more filmmakers are finding motivation in her journey and creativity.


Gauri Shinde

The above list is just an observation to be called the top 5 best female directors in India of all time. They have given much more to Indian cinema, and many other directors are getting inspired by them. If you are a Bollywood enthusiast, check out our website Bollywoodxplorer.

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