Interview American Hindi

It's still very hard for women to get films off the ground: Gurinder Chadha


The fabulous Gurinder Chadha questions the lack of female directors in the film industry.

Sonal Pandya

The state of women directors in Hollywood is so dismal that a recent study conducted by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University concluded that percentage of directors have remained the same since 1998. Only 7% of women directors worked on the top 250 films of 2014, leaving 93% of the films with no female directors.

New York Magazine's entertainment website, Vulture, picked up on this disparity and featured a top 100 list of women directors Hollywood could hire for their upcoming films. Alongside Kathryn Bigelow, Lisa Cholodenko and Sofia Coppola, filmmaker Gurinder Chadha was named on the list. At a panel on the 2015 Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival, the British director who has strong roots still in India, spoke about the difficulties women directors face.

“I think the amount of women directors [has] decreased. When I made Bhaji on the Beach (1993), I was the first Indian woman to make a feature film in Britain, I'm still the only Indian woman making feature films in Britain. That's a terrible statistic given the success of my films. I've made films that have made a lot of money for a lot of people around the world. So they're commercial but it's still very hard for women to get films off the ground. It's hard for everybody, to be honest, but it's harder for women.”

For the record, her smash hit Bend It Like Beckham (2003) grossed around $76.5 million worldwide, while Bride and Prejudice (2005) grossed nearly $25 million off of its $7 million production budget. When asked what can be done to encourage more female filmmakers in the industry, Chadha replied that women need to make more commercial scripts that everyone can watch. She was surprised to find out that Vicky Donor (2012) was written by a female writer, Juhi Chaturvedi. According to Chadha, women can write really good (male) characters.