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There was a time when Bollywood actresses chose to stick to what they were familiar with as performers, but now there’s a breed of inventive women who are keen to branch out and experiment in all domains including acting. Recently, award-winning actress Alia Bhatt declared her dream of being a Bollywood producer with the launch of her own company ‘Eternal Sunshine Productions’. The first project under her banner is a dark comedy entitled ‘Darlings’.
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On February 28, Bhatt shared the logo of her new company on her social media pages. Just like her sunny personality, the logo of her company is cheerful with yellow motifs. It also features her favourite pet animals, cats. The ‘Love You Zindagi’ star also promised that she intends to make ‘Happy tales. Warm and Fuzzy tales. Real tales. Timeless tales.” She’s the daughter of prolific Bollywood producer Mahesh Bhatt and most of her family members are in the world of Hindi cinema. Here’s a look at a few other actresses who have ventured into the world of production with a singular aim to make compelling cinema.
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Anushka Sharma: This actress was on top of her acting game when she branched out into production along with her brother Karnesh Sharma in September 2013. Under their production banner, Clean Slate Filmz, the sibling duo backed fierce women-driven stories such as the psychological thriller ‘NH-10’ and the supernatural horror film ‘Pari’. Sharma, an outsider in Bollywood with no industry connections, made her debut with ‘Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi’ (2008) opposite Shah Rukh Khan and diversified her brand in just more than a decade. She has also backed web series including ‘Pataal Lok’ and compelling films such as ‘Bulbbul’ and ‘Phillauri’.
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Deepika Padukone: The model and actress is one of the most glamorous celebrities in Bollywood today, but her first film under her own banner ‘Ka Productions’ was ‘Chhapaak’ in 2020, a stirring tale of an acid attack survivor. It wasn’t your usual Bollywood song-dance musical, but a movie that spoke about a social evil that continues to plague the world. Padukone starred in this Meghna Gulzar-directed film and took on a physically challenging role to mark her foray into production. Her next production is ‘83’, a sports film starring her real-life husband Ranveer Singh as cricketing icon Kapil Dev. The film will chronicle India’s momentous victory at the 1983 World Cup and Padukone plays his on-screen wife Romi Dev in this highly-anticipated film.
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Priyanka Chopra: This global icon, who impressed us in her recent film ‘The White Tiger’, is all about backing ‘great stories and creating a solid platform to promote upcoming talent’. On her official website page of Purple Pebble Pictures, there’s a message that reads: “As someone who made it in the industry on her merit, Priyanka Chopra truly understands the struggles of getting an opportunity and foothold in the film industry.
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With the production house that she started with her mother, Dr Madhu Chopra (left), she aims to bridge the gap between emerging talent and the myriad opportunities that the world of entertainment has to offer.” So far she has put her money on Indian films in languages including Bhojpuri with ‘Bam Bam Bol Raha Hai Kashi’ and in Marathi with National Award-winning features ‘Ventilator’ and ‘Paani’. She also produced ‘The Sky Is Pink’, an engaging film about a troubled mother, played by Chopra, grappling with her daughter’s debilitating disease. She has also produced an American horror film ‘Evil Eye’ in 2020.
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Kangana Ranaut: After acting in a string of versatile roles in Hindi cinema, Ranaut tried her hand at directing and ventured into production in 2020 by setting up her own company called Manikarnika Films in Mumbai. Her sister and manager Rangoli Chandel broke the news on her now-suspended Twitter account with: “Today we inaugurated Kangana’s studio, Manikarnika films Kangana will work as a producer and director and Aksht [their brother] will look after legal and finance departments he studied film production in New York film academy.” She claimed that it was Ranaut’s 10-year-old dream to become a producer and her growth underlined her sister’s honesty and truth towards her line of work.
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Twinkle Khanna: When she’s not writing witty columns and books, Khanna believes in throwing her weight and clout behind a variety of Hindi films in various genres. The wife of Akshay Kumar is the co-founder of Grazing Goat Pictures and has co-produced commercial films including ‘Tees Maar Khan’ (2010), ‘Patiala House’ (2011) and ‘Holiday: A Soldier Is Never Off Duty’ (2014). But it was ‘Padman’, a film about menstrual hygiene that was her boldest endeavour.
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“In everything that I have done so far when it comes to storytelling, I look for interesting conduits to take my message across. Whether I pass that message by making you laugh or I interest you by my words or intrigue you, I look for a compelling ways. Our story of ‘Pad Man’ has such interesting components to it,” said Khanna in an earlier interview with Gulf News. Her husband Akshay Kumar was equally thrilled to produce an unconventional feature like ‘Pad Man’.
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“It makes me so proud to work on something with her [that] tackles an impactful topic like this… Working on this film has made me realise that I wish I had known about this [menstruation] since childhood. Because our society believes it should never be a topic of discussion, I didn’t even know that my own sister could be going through this — even whilst I shared the same room as her. It’s very much an upsetting thought — being educated could have made me a better brother, son, and husband and allowed me to support the women in my life with the difficulties they must face whilst on their period,” said Kumar in an e-mail interview during the movie’s release.
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Chitrangada Singh: The actress turned producer with ‘Soorma’, starring Taapsee Pannu and Diljit Dosanjh. In an interview, she claimed she became a producer as a ‘matter of compulsion’ when her acting career saw a lull. When good movie offers stopped coming her way, she started scouting for riveting storylines. ‘Soorma’, about a fading hockey player, ticked all her boxes.
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Richa Chadha: The consummate actress turned producer with her first Punjabi short film ‘Khoon Aali Chithi’ and was a period love story about a young boy whose sole motive is to write a letter in blood when the love of his life is taken away in tragic circumstances. It’s set in 1980s Punjab.
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