In Bollywood, Female Directors Find New Respect

09/07/2011 02:19 pm ET | Updated Nov 07, 2011

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.”

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