Like any other new filmmaker, she struggled to direct a film. Kiran Rao says her experience has taught her that filmmakers, who are swimming against the tide, should stay true to themselves to get recognition.
The 39-year-old started her work as an assistant director in Oscar nominated 2001 movie "Lagaan(2001)" and continued the learning process in films like "Monsoon Wedding", "Saathiya" and "Swades", before directing her first film "Dhobi Ghat" in 2010.
"The struggle is the same for any new filmmaker in the world and I don't think India is any different. All first-time filmmakers who are doing something different and against the tide are going to struggle. There is no one way to fix that struggle. The best way to do it is to retain your identity and be true to yourself," Rao told IANS.
"Let the project speak for itself because if you are excited about it, the excitement will communicate on its own. Then the merit of the project attracts people. Whatever you do, the project has to be of a certain quality and then it will get the support," she added.
Even though typical masala movies do not interest her, box-office successes make her happy.
"When a film does well, it is good for the whole industry. I always feel good when films are doing well but get annoyed when a bad film does very good business. That becomes a little disappointing for a filmmaker.
"You feel that the film did not have anything in it to do that great business, but you never know what the audience likes," she said, and added that she is "never against commercial success".
"It is nice and encouraging even for a smallest filmmaker and indicative of a healthy environment for a film," she explained.
Recently, the Bollywood box office saw a heady mix of hits. If potboilers like "The Dirty Picture", "Student Of The Year" and "Khiladi 786 - Made in Punjab" did well, offbeat and unconventional films like "Kahaani", "Vicky Donor", "Gangs Of Wasseypur" and "Paan Singh Tomar" too enjoyed commercial success.
The existence of short films, biopics and masala movies under one umbrella give audience the luxury to explore, feels Rao.
"There is a greater understanding now between the industry and the audience. They are not limited to movies being shown in theatres; they have access to television shows, music, literature and art from around the world... the audience can now go out and watch a film that they want to see," Rao said.
Describing the new trend as a "great thing", she said it allows filmmakers to produce different material.
"Now we have access to different kinds of films. And that is a fair thing. We have to allow diversity and provide different and interesting material which excites the audience," she added.
Will you direct a full on masala entertainer?
"I just want to make films, which I know how to make and I am attracted to. I will not say that it will always be one kind of film. I have only made one film and I want to explore my abilities and see what I can do. If it is commercially successful, I will be very happy. But I don't write thinking about commercial success or that this is a super hit concept... But more power to people who make big commercial films," she said.
She is currently working on a new project, which she hasn't completed writing.