by Anupama Chopra.
THE director Zoya Akhtar laughs as she tells the story of the Steadicam operator who worked on her first film, “Luck by Chance.” He had earlier worked with her younger brother, Farhan, a director-actor who was playing the lead in Ms. Akhtar’s film. Brother and sister sat behind the monitor as the operator set up the shots. After each shot he turned to Farhan instead of Zoya to check if it was all right.
The third time it happened, Ms. Akhtar could no longer stay silent. “I took him aside,” she recalled in an interview, “and very politely told him: ‘I am the director of the film. If you can adjust to that, it’s great. If not, we can’t work together.’ He got extremely flustered and said, ‘No, no, you are like my sister.’ And I cut him off right there. I said: ‘I’m not your sister, I’m your director. Can you handle it?’ He said he could, and we work together all the time now.”
Ms. Akhtar, 38, is among an emerging breed of female directors altering the contours of Bollywood, the Mumbai-based Hindi film industry. It has largely been a boys club behind the scenes. Though women have made inroads into editing, art direction, writing and production in the last decade, there are no studio-head equivalents of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s co-chairman, Amy Pascal, or DreamWorks’ chief executive, Stacey Snider.
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