Chitrangda Singh turns producer for Soorma: How actresses are juggling duties on camera and behind it

Abhishek Srivastava

July 16, 2018 09:28:11 IST

The trend of actresses donning the producers’ hat was always there in Bollywood. In the '60s, Madhubala had produced a film which featured her husband Kishore Kishore while in the '70s, it was Jaya Bachchan, who just two years after having faced the camera for the first time in Guddi, called the shots in 1973 for Abhimaan under the banner of Amiya Films. No prizes for guessing where the name of the banner comes from. While the discordant '80s saw a lull, the beginning of '90s saw Bollywood’s own Dream Girl’s foray into production with Dil Aashna Hai. The millennium brought a spurt in the number of actresses donning the producers’ mantle.

Raveena Tandon, Shilpa Shetty, Manisha Koirala, Preity Zinta and Lara Dutta all turned to putting their money into making films. But all the names mentioned above are one-off instances. For most, making films became a sort of compulsion after their career took a beating while for others, it became an opportunity just to stay relevant. Pooja Bhatt remains the sole exception who truly graduated from being an actress to a full-fledged producer but again, she could not manage both the roles together.

Cut to the present Bollywood, it is a different world. Established actresses are taking the plunge and are managing both their acting career and production ventures with equal ease. The trend that started with Priyanka Chopra was later picked by Anushka Sharma. Now the bandwagon includes Chitrangda Singh and Deepika Padukone. One often comes across sound bites of actresses dubbing production as a thankless job but hidden behind the ‘thanklessness’ is a sea of opportunity which, if explored in the right fashion, could just open a multitude of options. If the films do succeed in hitting the bull’s eye, they can go laughing all the way to their bank.  

Chitrangada Singh. Image via Facebook

Chitrangada Singh. Image via Facebook

One reason why current actresses are welcoming film production is that the transactions involved in the same are more transparent now. In a world of equal opportunity, they are making most of their opportunities. The clean-up of the mafia money, that was rampant in film production in the '90s, and the advent of corporates has given a semblance of an order which most actress find comfort in. For a few, the reason of turning to production is often the paucity of good. For others, it is simply a genuine love for cinema and a desire to make films as per their wishes. The current crop of actresses are jumping into the production arena with a well laid out plan. While Priyanka has a defined team and her mother to give her backend support, Anushka’s has her brother Karnesh as an able assist.

The change is here and it is a sweeping one. To begin with, it was not in spur of the moment when these actresses thought of becoming producers. Every move of theirs was calculated and was based on months of planning and thinking. Priyanka’s intention of becoming a producer stemmed from the fact that a few movies needed her support and help. In an earlier interview, she had mentioned that there are many filmmakers who just do not get a chance to tell their stories and she would like to support such films. The thought was also slightly personal and it came from the fact that she had faced difficulty when she became part of the industry in her initial days. The style sheet of Purple Pebble Pictures, the production house that she owns, is true to her beliefs. Rather than venturing into Hindi films (from where could have easily made good money), she started with a Marathi film and then branched out to Bhojpuri and Sikkimese. That she meant business and was serious is evident from the fact that her Marathi debut Ventilator went on to win a National award.

For Anushka Sharma, it was more of a case of inclusion. In an interview, she had mentioned that becoming a producer is just a progression to add to to her growth as an actor. “I feel more like a part of movies," she had said. She was candid enough to admit in the same interview that there is nothing glamorous attached to production and there is no stardom attached to it. Her rationale of becoming a producer was a bit contrary to the reasons that Priyanka had. It was the arresting plot of NH 10 that compelled her to become a producer. A strong urge to back the film in its entire journey was a decision that involved lots of deliberation. The results for her banner Clean Slate Films have been more than satisfactory. All her three productions (NH 10, Phillauri and Pari) could manage to recover their returns on investment. That Anushka is also an astute producer is reflected by the fact that all her three films were tight budgeted and no money was splurged in any form. Thriller, love story and horror – the three genres she has dabbled in till date also reflect her versatility.

Anushka Sharma in a still from Pari. Image from Twitter/@myhardikpandya

Anushka Sharma in a still from Pari. Image from Twitter/@myhardikpandya

The latest to join the bandwagon is Chitrangda Singh. Her urge to became a producer was a matter of compulsion. There was a brief period in her career that saw her struggling, both on professional and personal fronts. In the absence of good offers, the period allowed her to write stories keeping herself as the protagonist with the sole intention of producing the films someday but when she met Sandeep Singh, she found his story riveting enough to keep everything on hold. While Chitrangda is not in the same league as Priyanka and Anushka, the fact that she still has films like Baazaar and Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3 in her kitty should not be discounted for. If rumors are to be believed, Deepika Padukone might be next in queue.

With the trend of actresses as producers on the horizon, it is a foregone conclusion that their films too will showcase a different sensibility and mindset. Chitrangda, similar to Priyanka and Anushka, could have easily succumbed to the lure of a more commercial masala potboiler than a biopic of an ex-Indian hockey captain whom people hardly know in a cricket crazy nation. It was an arresting plot more than anything else that tempted her. It surely is a welcome change, and more power to such actress-producers.

Updated Date: Jul 16, 2018 09:28 AM