Bollywood; The word conjures the dazzling world of glitterati, fashion, fame, recognition and of course the moolah. A heady cocktail that sweeps one off its feat. A world desired by many and owned by the selected. What makes it so alluring? Let’s see. The artists no doubt, the producers, the choreographers, the musicians, fashion designers, the crew who help build and decorate the sets, the lightmen, the background dancers, the on sets help right to the chaiwala. But what steers or who steers this ship? And it points out to the captain. The director who sails a film through calm and rough waters to its ultimate consumers. We, the public.

Cinema all over has always been predominantly the men’s domain as far as direction is concerned. But in spite of these hurdles, women have slowly and steadily pushed their way into this direction too. We have remarkable women holding the camera and building a movie. The likes of Zoya Akhtar, Kathryn Bigelow, Sofia Coppola, Mira Nair, Meghna Gulzar and many more such wonderful women who have carved a niche for themselves and have succeeded. One among these gems is a lady who started her film direction career with an abundance of experience of advertising, who has directed really good cinema and who is passionate about gender equality; Ashwini Iyer Tiwari.

Who is Ashwini ?

Born in a Tamil family, Ashwini grew up in the North-East suburb of Aamchi Mumbai. Having done her schooling from St. Mary’s Convent, she further graduated from SIES College of Commerce and Economics. Though she had the Commerce degree in hand, Ashwini was more inclined towards the creative field. She enrolled herself into Commercial Arts from Sophie Polytechnic, though it took a lot of convincing to get her mother to agree to her interest. She emerged as a gold medalist in that field and proved her worth.

Career Graph and Recognition

Ashwini started her advertising career with the reputed Leo Burnett and worked there relentlessly for 15 years. Leo Burnett opened a door of creative opportunities which honed her skills. But her real calling was behind the camera’s. She wanted to call in the shots. She shot her first short film What’s for Breakfast in 2012 which won her recognition, applauds and awards. This was a major turning point in her life. Her passion and her grit determination for film making made her quit her 15-year old advertising job.

Having worked for Sony channel campaigns for some years while working with Leo Burnett, Ashwini acquired the required knowledge of film making and her confidence to move ahead towards the path of film making. Her first breakthrough in movies came to her as her debut as filmmaker for the movie ‘Nil Battey Sannata‘. It was a comedy movie starring Swara Bhaskar in the lead. This movie went on to bring Ashwini the recognition she deserved and a name to be sought after. This movie was released internationally as ‘The New Classmate’.  Nil Battey Sannata went on to win many awards including the Best Debut Director. Ashwini was now a name to be reckoned with. She further remade this movie in Tamil titled Amma Kanakku. Her next movie was the super success Bareilly Ki Barfi which again went on to get her the Best Director Award. Further, Ashwini teamed up with Kangana Ranaut for the movie Panga which was all about a woman re-discovering her passion. She has also directed a short film titled Ghar ki Murgi starring Sakshi Tanwar for Sony LIV on Women’s Day where a homemaker makes her worth known when she finally puts her foot down. Ashwini is now working on directing a movie on the most adored couple Sudha and Narayan Murthy.

Ashwini has truly made her presence felt among the Bollywood maverick directors. Her choice of films for direction is truly a class apart. Her love for film making shows up in her movies.

Gender Equality

Ashwini is a strong advocate of Gender Equality. She passionately believes that both sexes need to be given equal opportunities without suppressing either. Her movies have a strong depiction of women breaking the barriers if social norms and paving a path for them which equals them to the opposite sex.

 As Ashwini puts forth, “Gender equality for me is giving equal opportunity and respect to everyone for their minds, for what they bring to the table versus judging any human through their gender.”

Alongwith direction, and Ashwini has turned author too. This multi talented lady has penned a novel titled ‘Mapping Love’. The book was slated to be released in May 2021 but she decided to postpone the release. She always wanted her book to be released in a bookstore and that she read chapters for her audience. But the current pandemic has made it impossible for such a gathering. Hence she has pushed back the release of her book till the situation improves for good.

Ashwini is like a beacon of hope for women who want to pursue their passion, and happiness. She has worked towards her goal and succeeded in it. And a mighty successful woman. One who knows her craft, hones her skills, upgrades her talent and the colours of all these showcases in the mighty canvas of cinemas she directs. It’s Showtime !!!

-By Mamta KS

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