12 Female Cinematographers In B-Town Who Broke The Stereotype

12 Female Cinematographers In B-Town Who Broke The Stereotype View All Articles

Posted On: 17 Jun 2021 | Last Updated: 02 Dec 2021

Not long ago Bollywood was known for being a male-dominated profession with females confined to either playback singing or playing the quintessential role of a heroine, mother, bhabhi, item girl, or sister on-screen. But slowly and steadily Indian cinema saw a bunch of new women directors who successfully wielded the megaphone and went on to prove their mettle even as technicians by taking up various kinds of skilled jobs like editing, composing, lyrics, choreography, production designing, etc. The department of photography or camerawork too is an area of filmmaking where Indian women cinematographers have created a space for themselves and made their presence felt strongly. For long cinematography was a male-dominated profession but a few female cinematographers have made inroads and are currently active in the Indian entertainment industry. Let’s meet Bollywood’s top 12 lady cinematographers who are giving their male counterparts a run for their money in the profession.

1. Neha Parti Matiyani

Bollywood cinematographer Neha Parti Matiyani has worked in a whole lot of feature films, commercials, and web series since graduating from the Film & Television Institute in Pune in 2004. The lens woman started her Bollywood career by assisting ace cinematographer Ravi K. Chandran in films like Fanaa, Saawariya, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, and Ghajini. She went solo by becoming the lead camerawoman for films like Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge, Yamla Pagla Deewana 2, Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, Waiting, Badrinath Ki Dulhania, Welcome to New York and Rashmi Rocket. She has also shot some web series like Love Shots and Four More Shots Please.

Neha Parti Matiyani

2. Keiko Nakahara

Keiko Nakahara is a hotshot lady cinematographer who easily features among the top 10 Bollywood cinematographers and has carved a niche for herself in no time. Born in Kagoshima, Japan, and trained in lighting technique and camerawork in California, Keiko has not just captivated India’s movie Industry but also Hollywood. She began her cinematographic career in Bollywood by working on the critically acclaimed biopic Mary Kom (2013), after which she never looked back and handled the DoP of films like 3G: A Killer Connection, Guddu Ki Gun, Noor, Indu Sarkar, Total Dhamaal, Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior, Shakuntala Devi and India Lockdown.

Keiko Nakahara

3. Priya Seth

Priya Seth is one of the famous Indian female cinematographers in Bollywood, who began her career in the Bollywood industry as an assistant camerawoman and clapper to ace cinematographer Giles Nuttgens for films like Earth (1999) and Holy Smoke (1999). Priya became an independent cinematographer with the Naseeruddin Shah starrer Barah Aana directed by Raja Krishna Menon in 2009. Her other films have been Airlift (2016) and Chef (2017). She is also known as an underwater cinematographer specialist for handling the underwater shots of Dhobi Ghat, Mardaani 2 and Tandav web series.

Priya Seth

4. Sunita Radia

Coming from an ultra-conservative and non-filmy background family in Jharkhand, Sunita Radia landed in Mumbai with dreams of becoming a cinematographer. After a brief struggle, she got lucky by getting to work as an assistant camerawoman to Binod Pradhan for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas. As luck would have it, she then went on to work as an associate cinematographer for movies like Munnabhai M.B.B.S (2003), Rang De Basanti (2006), Ta Ra Rum Pum (2007) and Heroes (2008). She became director of photography with the sci-fi flick Aalaap in 2012 and followed it up with movies like Jal, Baadshaho, Hate Story 4, PM Narendra Modi, Rome Rome Mein and some independent Ad films and music videos with prominent directors.

Sunita Radia

5. Fowzia Fathima

One of India's well-known women cinematographers Fowzia Fathima is also a director who is active in not just Bollywood, but also in Mollywood and Kollywood. Before turning to direction, she diligently handled the cinematography of actress Revathi’s directorial debut film Mitr: My Friend in 2002 starring Shobana, Preeti Vissa and Nassar Abdullah. She also handled the cinematography of Tusshar Kapoor and Esha Deol starrer Kucch To Hai in 2003. Her other works down south cinema have been Uyir, Silandhi, Mudhal Mudhal Mushal Varai and Gulumaal: The Escape.

Fowzia Fathima

6. Deepti Gupta

One of the founder members of the Indian Women Cinematographers Collective (IWCC), Deepti Gupta has come a long way since graduating in cinematography from the Film and TV Institute of India (FTII) in 1998. After becoming the second operative camera-woman in The Warrior in 2001 she went solo for movies like Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. (2007) and The Fakir of Venice (2019).

Deepti Gupta

7. Preetha Jayaraman

Preetha Jayaraman jointly got credited along with Deepti Gupta for the director of photography for The Fakir of Venice released in 2019. Preetha is a gold medallist from FTO, Chennai who assisted legendary cameraman P.C. Sreeram before turning independent. She has also shot actor Prakash Raj’s Bollywood directorial debut Tadka starring Taapsee Pannu, Shriya Saran, Ali Fazal and Nana Patekar, which is yet to release.

Preetha Jayaraman

8. Savita Singh

Lens woman Savita Singh probably was one of the first few female cinematographers of Bollywood who made inroads while cinematography was still a male-dominated domain. Though she started off by debuting with a short movie, the following year saw the release of the spooky horror flick Phoonk in 2008, which made many filmmakers take notice of her fine sense of lighting and camera placements. Phoonk’s unexpected success got her films like 404: Error Not Found, Kismet Love Paisa Dilli and Ayushmann Khurrana starrer Hawaizaada in 2015. She has also handled the photography of the Marathi film Ventilator in 2018.

Savita Singh

9. Archana Borhade

The award-winning Archana Borhade features among the top 10 female cinematographers in Bollywood who is also a writer and director. The accomplished lady cinematographer who started off as an assistant cameraman to noted lensman Alphonse Roy in Raj Kumar Gupta’s Aamir (2008) and followed it up with films like Ghajini, My Name Is Khan, Gulaab Gang, and Why Cheat India. She was credited with the director of photography for Raj Kumar Gupta’s Raid starring Ajay Devgn and Ileana D’cruz, which was released in 2018 where she had to create and capture the India of the 1980s.

Archana Borhade

10. Nusrat F. Jafri

Since her school days, Nusrat Jafri was very clear about what she wanted to do in life which was photography. Her love for capturing moments and saving them as images turned into an obsession that she wanted to transform on celluloid. Her notable works with the camera have been Amazon Prime’s web show Chacha Vidhayak Hain Humare, director Onir’s Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz in 2018, additional cinematography for Hansal Mehta’s award-winning feature Shahid and director Shlok Sharma’s award-winning short film Sujata.

Nusrat F. Jafri

11. Pooja Gupte

Pooja Gupte was all of 16 when she made up her mind to pursue cinematography as her profession. After graduating with Photography as specialization in Commercial Art from Pune, she studied cinematography at Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute. Her first feature film as an independent DoP was Crossing Bridges which won the National (President’s) award in 2014 which was followed by receiving an award for Best Cinematography for the Manoj Bajpayee starrer film Rukh at the 5th AIFF, 2018. Since then, the lens woman has done a bagful of web series, commercials and short films.

Pooja Gupte

12. Anjuli Shukla

Last but not the least, Anjuli Shukla -- one of India’s best woman cinematographers who may not be known much in Bollywood circles but surely has made a name for herself in the international circuits. Anjuli is the first and only woman cinematographer to win a National Award for Best Cinematography in 2010 for her debut Malayalam movie Kutty Srank. She had assisted ace cinematographer Santosh Sivan before working as an independent camera person for projects like Mistress of Spices (2005) starring Aishwarya Rai and Before the Rains (2007) starring Rahul Bose and Nandita Das. In 2015, she directed as well as shot her own feature film, Happy Mother’s Day. Sooner or later, she is expected to make her Bollywood debut too.

Anjuli Shukla