Friday, Dec 09, 2022

Calling The Shots: The Growing World Of Female Producers In Bollywood

Calling The Shots: The Growing World Of Female Producers In Bollywood

In an interview with Outlook, some of the renowned names in the entertainment industry spoke about why Bollywood must celebrate female producers and how they are writing success stories.

Alia Bhatt, Shefali Shah And Vijay Varma In A Still From Darlings
Alia Bhatt, Shefali Shah And Vijay Varma In A Still From Darlings Instagram

When Alia Bhatt made her production debut with ‘Darlings’, a film that she co-produced under the name Eternal Sunshine along with Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment, her idea was to endorse the narratives she wants to build along with giving new writers and directors an opportunity. She aptly did that with this Netflix film that was about a woman story helmed by a woman director.

Not just in Bollywood, even Southern superstar Amala Paul made her production debut this month with ‘Cadaver’,  an investigative thriller that opened to positive reviews. Many credited the actor for her effortless performance in the role of the police surgeon.

A few years back, global star Priyanka Chopra, who has impressed all of us with her impeccable acting talent, announced her production company ‘Purple Pebble Pictures’, which has primarily produced regional films. The 40-year-old in interviews said that her company is all about giving opportunities to smaller, more quaint stories and that’s how the regional cinema thing started.

Anushka Sharma, Richa Chadha, and Dia Mirza are other accomplished actors who have donned producers' hats. For them, telling a story from a female perspective is very important 

Speaking to Outlook, Dia Mirza says, "The truth is that there are too few women producers so when more women choose to become producers it improves representation. When I chose to become a producer, I did it to be able to tell the stories I truly believed in. When I choose to tell a story it is with the intent to benefit society and to entertain.”

For Richa, having the sense of not enough good roles being pitched to female leads, she felt the willingness to do much more with the opportunity available. “I have always admired Anushka Sharma for trying to do the same with her studio, I personally loved 'NH10' (The film was inspired by real-life honour killing murder cases)  and always wanted to make a thriller along those lines as well. Perhaps I should think of making something in that genre under Pushing Buttons (her production company) soon,” she says.

Leading film producer Priya Sreedharan, who has produced three films - 'Shanghai' (2012), 'LSD: Love, Sex Aur Dhoka' (2010), 'Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!' (2008),  says that traditionally films have celebrated the powerful male figure “the hero” but now there is a shift in storytelling.

“We have female and a few male creators challenging themselves and writing complex female characters that challenge the norm and it looks like the audience has accepted it. They want to see a different point of view,” Priya tells Outlook and adds that “the much-talked-about feminine gaze is not just about defying the male gaze. It is the portrayal of a story and character that celebrates feminine strength in a way that, regardless of gender, the audience feels the emotions and desires of the character and this is important.”

She said that as makers, one can make interesting stories, and become more productive. “More equal. As a Producer, I feel fortunate to be part of this transformative work,” she said.

While for an established actor to become a producer and show stories that they believe in is easy, independent female producers still have to struggle a lot.

'Khosla Ka Ghosla' producer Savita Raj Hiremath says she had to put everything at stake while making this 2006 released film that even won a National Film Award later.

“Anushka, Alia, or for that matter Deepika ( Padukone), they are the established actress so it’s a natural extension for them to become a producer because they are doing well and it makes sense for them to collaborate as a brand but for me, it was unknown territory and I had to fight and struggle. I have actually put everything at stake and made 'Khosla Ka Ghosla', Hirameth, who has also produced the Amitabh Bachchan starrer ‘Jhund’, tells Outlook.

However, she is now making more films with guts. “ I have become stronger now and am coming up with ‘ 'Khosla ka Ghosla Part 2' and a biopic on an Indian astronaut,” she sums up.