From the fiercely ­independent Shruti (Anushka Sharma) in Band Baaja Baaraat (2010) to the gutsy Gayatri (Parineeti Chopra) and Tara (Vaani Kapoor) in Shuddh Desi Romance (2013), and even the self-assured Sandhya (Bhumi Pednekar) in the recently-released Dum Laga Ke Haisha – the one common string that binds all of Maneesh Sharma’s films is a strong and free-spirited woman. The filmmaker admits that he, in fact, has made a conscious effort to weave ­stories around women with a voice, in tune with ­contemporary times.
"I am not making films to change the world. But yes, somewhere, there is a c­onscious effort to create strong and expressive female characters in the films that I am associated with. Actually, I do have a problem in the way women are often ­objectified in films. So I will always be conscious in my work at least, because I have some control over it," says the Delhi boy.
"Of course, I respect women a lot, and that’s how it should be. But yes, I also make sure it is ­executed like that in my films. It is a feeling that’s close to my heart, so it’s inherent in my filmmaking too. There has to be a certain stature (with the way women are ­portrayed). I am nobody to give them that ­stature. They have it, they deserve it and that’s there for them," says Maneesh, insisting that bold female characters, in fact, depict the real woman of ­today, so crafting such characters should come ­naturally to filmmakers.
"What’s portrayed through such strong characters very much holds true for ­contemporary times. Even the audience is enjoying these films that deal with issues or shows the journey of a female ­character, so it better be shown like that now. It’s been long overdue now," says Maneesh, applauding what he terms as a "positive ­paradigm shift".
"Whether it’s Kangana (Ranaut) in Queen or Parineeti (Chopra) in Ishaqzaade or Anushka (Sharma) in Jab Tak Hai Jaan, all these characters are cutting edge. In fact, it’s strange to call them cutting edge because that’s how they are today in reality... they (women) are out there and very confident," he says.