With Priyanka, Anushka, Deepika turning producers, women may finally get wider representation in Bollywood

Actress Swara Bhaskar just announced that she’s turning producer, joining the likes of Anushka Sharma, Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone. Though Sonam Kapoor Ahuja doesn’t have her own production house, she and sister Rhea have been the driving forces behind their father’s banner. In a statement, Swara emphasised the need to support good scripts and filmmakers that have fresh and powerful stories who don’t otherwise get a platform.

What’s interesting about all these female actors turning producers isn’t the move itself; it’s more the timing of the move and the reasons. It’s not new for female actors to launch production houses. Over the last decade, we’ve seen Preity Zinta, Lara Dutta and Ameesha Patel venture into production as well. While Lara’s Chalo Dilli was fairly well received and did average business, Preity’s Ishkq in Paris sank without a trace and Ameesha’s Desi Magic has been in the works for the past four years. One thing has been common to all these films—they were all attempts at re-launching downward spiralling careers.

That’s clearly not the case with the new bunch of production houses started by actresses at the top of their game. When Priyanka Chopra founded Purple Pebble Pictures in 2015, the vision was very clear—to promote new talent and provide a platform for hard-hitting regional cinema. “A good story. A well-written script. New talent” – are the necessary ingredients laid out on their website. In three years, the banner has so far had seven releases under their belt, in Marathi, Punjabi, Assamese, Nepali and Bhojpuri. Ventilator, their first Marathi film, swept three National Awards in 2016, while their last film Pahuna from Sikkim has travelled across the festival circuit winning the jury’s choice award for best film at Toronto. Priyanka’s just announced that she’s developing a film with legendary Hollywood director, Barry Levinson, on the life of spiritual leader and Osho disciple Ma Anand Sheela.

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