The buzz of the catchy word ‘woman empowerment’ may have fumed very recently, but, Indian women have always left their marks on their ways. Be it the music or filmmaking or even literature – the Indian soil has always gifted some ever-cherishing gems to the world. We, of course, don’t want to sound very feminist, as we do believe that if one believes to be humanist, any other ideology doesn’t need to be added on, however, in a patriarchal society like India’s, needless to say, that women have to fight much more than men.
So, here, we celebrate seven amazingly talented First Indian Women who dared to dream and in spite of all hurdles, encrypted their names into the history. While some of them are impeccable in music, others excelled in film making or literature. Irrespective of their fields, we have discussed them chronologically.
Have a look!


1. Saraswati Devi (The First Indian Female Music Director; 1912-1980)

Isn’t it quite coincidental and surprising that the first Indian female music director was named after the Hindu goddess of music and knowledge? Yes, Saraswati Devi was the first Indian woman who composed music over 30 Hindi films.

Born in a Parsi family in 1912, Saraswati Devi was trained in Hindustani classical music from the very childhood under famous Indian musicologist Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande.
Starting her career from All India Radio Station in Mumbai in the late 1920s, Saraswati Devi first composed music in Jawani Ki Hawa in 1935. However, Saraswati Devi got her fame mostly after 1936’s classic Achut Kanya starred by Ashok Kumar and Devika Rani.

Very few know that Saraswati Devi was the original composer of one of the most popular songs of Indian cinema ‘Ek Chatur Naar Kar Ke Shringar’ which was primarily sung by Ashok Kumar and was recreated by Manna Dey- Kishore Kumar duo later. Saraswati Devi last composed music in 1961’s Rajasthani movie Babasa Ri Laadi.


This Indian musical gem didn’t get her deserved love in the death bed. Old Saraswati Devi, at about at 67 years, fell down from a bus and fractured her hip bone. However, none of the film personalities or her once-colleagues or co-singers ever stretched a hand of help. Helpless with old age’s health problems, Saraswati Devi passed away in 1980 at the age of 68 years.


2. Suchitra Sen (The First Indian Female Superstar; 1931-2014)

Many stars will come and go but perhaps nobody will ever be able to match the legacy of Bengali timeless beauty Suchitra Sen. Debuting in 1953’s super hit film Sharey Chuattor opposite to evergreen Bengali superstar Uttam Kumar, Sen showed her mesmerizing beauty that Bengali cinema never witnessed earlier.

This was the time when the Bengali film industry saw the most historic emergence of a mammoth star Uttam Kumar who is still, after 39 years of his death, remembered as the most celebrated hero of Bengal and Suchitra Sen set her own trend and style statement beside him.

Suchitra Sen’s legacy was so glamorous that for the first time in Tollywood (nickname of Bengali film industry) a special makeup room was allotted for her. Even, Suchitra’s stardom continued so far that in many of the films’ title cards, her name used to appear before the lead actors opposite to her.


The glamorous Bengali beauty went to complete seclusion after her last film Pranay Pasha in 1978 after 25 years long work life. Sen was never seen in public after that which, naturally, instigated the public curiosity.

After long old-age health complications, this flawless Indian beauty breathed her last in 2014.



3. Chitra Singh (The First Indian Female Ghazal singer who popularized Ghazal beside film-songs)

Born as Chitra Shome in a Bengali family, Chitra Singh is considered as one of the finest Ghazal singers of the subcontinent. Although the subcontinent had witnessed many renowned Ghazal singers earlier like Farida Khanum and Begum Akhtar, Chitra Singh first popularized the Ghazal with her singer-husband Jagjit Singh.

Later, in many interviews, Chitra revealed that being born and brought up in a pure Bengali culture, grasping proper Urdu articulation was her biggest challenge. Well, Chitra’s popularity and acclamation from critics surely indicate that she won her challenge quite successfully.
Jagjit-Chitra’s 1977 album The Unforgettables was the first bestselling non-movie albums that brought them fame.

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#jagjitsingh & #chitrasingh #aminlestone #vinylrecord

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Chitra Singh’s name is written with golden ink in the history of Indian music for many of her classic hits like ‘Yeh Na Thi Humari Kismaat’, ‘Dil Hi Toh Hai Na Sango Khisth’, ‘Kisi Ranjish Ko Hawa Do’ and many others. Chitra’s ever-mesmerizing voice has brought many epic Urdu poems into lives.

Tragic life

It will not be an overstatement to say that Chitra Singh’s life is a roller coaster of ups and downs. This beautiful voice stopped her professional singing after Jagjit and her 20-years-old son Vivek died in a car accident in Mumbai. Chitra never recorded a single song or appeared in any stage performance further, although, Jagjit continued his professional singing. Chitra suffered further shocks when in Monica, her daughter from the first marriage, committed suicide in 2009 and Chitra’s life companion Jagjit Singh passed away on 10th October, 2011. Chitra Singh, who once waved millions of hearts with her god-gifted voice, now lives alone in seclusion.


4. Bhanu Athaiya (The First Indian Female to win Academy Awards as Costume designer)

Bhanu Athaiya is the first Indian woman who brought the country the prestigious Academy Award, more commonly The Oscar, for her costume design in 1983’s critically acclaimed film Gandhi.

Born in the home of a painter, Bhanu’s artistic talent started to flourish from the very childhood. Although Bhanu started her career as a freelance fashion illustrator, her skill and enthusiasm made her a part of renowned filmmaker Guru Dutt’s team very soon. Her success story began rolling through bug films, like Pyaasa (1957), Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962), Guide (1965), Teesri Manzil (1966) and many others.
However, Bhanu Athaiya’s greatest achievement came in 1983 when she won Academy Award for the epic historical cinema Gandhi under Richard Attenborough’s direction.
Bhanu won several others National Film Awards and Filmfare Award for her immense contribution to the films.

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Bhanu Athaiya née Rajopadhye (Marathi: born 28 April 1929) is an Indian costume designer, having worked in over 100 films, since the 1950s, with noted filmmakers like Guru Dutt, Yash Chopra, Raj Kapoor, Ashutosh Gowariker, and international directors like Conrad Rooks and Richard Attenborough. She made her debut as a film costume designer with the film C.I.D. in 1956,[1] and followed it up with other Guru Dutt classics like Pyaasa (1957), Chaudhvin Ka Chand (1960) and Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962). In her career spanning 50 years she has received numerous awards. She won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design (shared with John Mollo) for her work in the 1982 film, Gandhi. She became the first Indian to win an Academy Award.She also won two National Film Awards, in 1991[3] and 2002. Athaiya started her career as a freelance fashion illustrator for various women's magazines in Bombay, including the 'Eve's Weekly'. Later when its editor opened a boutique, she asked Athaiya to try designing dresses, hereupon she discovered her flair for designing clothes. Her success as a designer soon led to her switching career paths. Her career began by designing clothes for Guru Dutt's films, starting with C.I.D. (1956). She soon became a part of the Guru Dutt team. A tribute was paid to her body of work at the opening of the South Asian International Film Festival, New York in November 2005 In March 2010, Athaiya released her book The Art of Costume Design, published by Harper Collins.On January 13, 2013, Athaiya presented a copy of the book to the Dalai Lama. On February 23, 2012, it was reported that Athaiya wished to return her Academy Award to The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences because she felt that her family will not be able to take care of the trophy after her demise.On December 15, 2012, it was confirmed that the trophy had been returned to The Academy #brand#fashion#jewellries#womensfashion#brandhistory#womanswear#womanslook#styleinspo#fashionweek#fashionblogger#fashionaddict#fashionable#fashionista#fashiondaily#outfit#ootd#outfitoftheday#kuwaitcity#usa#russia#china#italy#milan#france#paris#india#japan#france#instagood

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In 2012, it was rumoured that Bhanu Athaiya wished to return her Academy Award to The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences as she feared that after her demise, her own family wouldn’t be able to take care of the prestigious award. On 15th December, 2012, it was confirmed that the Academy award has been returned to The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science.



5. Arundhati Roy (The First Indian Female to win the Man Booker Prize for fiction)

MUMBAI, INDIA – SEPTEMBER 30, 2009: Arundhati Roy at Yatch club on Wednesday. (Photo by Satish Bate/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Literature had been always a male-dominated province in India, be it the area of novel, poetry or non-fiction.
Well, Arundhati Roy is certainly a name that broke this stereotype of Indian literature streamline and left her footmark.
Although Arundhati started her career as an actress in award-winning movie Massey Sahib, she later inclined to literature.

Arundhati’s first novel The God of the Small Things that took almost four years to be completed, won the Man Booker Prize in fiction in 1997. This gave Roy a huge International fame following which she wrote a television serial The Banyan Tree.

Arundhati has always been very vocal on political issues and never hesitated to holler her views on sensitive National and International aspects.


6. Modhura Palit (The First Indian Female Cinematographer to be awarded in Cannes Film Festival)

One of the latest feathers on the cap of women empowerment is, of course, first Indian female cinematographer Modhura Palit. Yes, this powerhouse of talent, who specialized in Cinematography from Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute of India, Kolkata, has placed her shoulder on the extremely male-dominated profession, cinematography.
The 28-year-old super-talented DoP has bagged Angenieux Special Encouragement Award at the Cannes Film Festival stage.

Modhura has worked immensely in critically acclaimed projects like Watchmaker, Gota, Meet Sohee, Winding Through The Dusty Lanes, The Paper Boy and many others.
The Angenieux Special Encouragement Award is a worldwide recognized honour as it is started to encourage young and enthusiastic cinematography professionals.

Needless to say, in the era of mediocrity and cultural degradation, Modhura has taken Indian to a global map.

Women empowerment was never a flimsy matter to get triumph over the men, instead, it is always a challenge to shatter the barrier between male and female and thus, the establishment of women empowerment is a duty of men too, as much as it is the duty of women.


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