Reese Witherspoon, all of 41, has managed to have it all. The New York Times recently did an article on how her life changed after she produced Big Little Lies, the big winner at the Emmy’s last year. With films like Wild, Gone Girl, she is one of the most powerful women producers in Hollywood.
She once said, “I thought, This is my line in the sand. We women are too talented to be fighting over roles like this,” on not getting challenging roles despite winning an Oscar for Walk the Line and one of the major reasons why she decided to become a producer.
Now, for the second season of Big Little Lies, Meryl Streep is slated to play Mary Louise Wright, and will be a recurrent cast member.
Last year’s statistics showed that among the top 100 grossing films of 2017 in Hollywood, only 24 percent had female producers. And Reese was just one of them, but perhaps the more popular one among them thanks to her already flourishing career as a Hollywood A-lister.
Closer home, in Bollywood, there aren’t numbers to state how many female producers exist. Usually, we can think of women who dabble in a lot of other things apart from producing such as Gauri Khan, who is into interior designing and she produces Shah Rukh Khan’s films. Ekta Kapoor has proved to be a smart entrepreneur producing money-making television shows and films, and now the digital platform AltBalaji. Other names such as Kiran Rao, Rhea Kapoor do come to mind. Actresses like Preity Zinta, Dia Mirza, Juhi Chawla, Lara Dutta and Shilpa Shetty had produced films in the past but not with much success. Priyanka Chopra and Anushka Sharma are among the few successful actresses who are producing films with author-backed roles.
Priyanka launched her banner Purple Pebble Pictures (PPP) in 2016, a production house that focuses on financing regional, non-commercial films.
“I want to work with new talent. I want to do small films with new directors, new writers and new actors. I know that getting a foothold in the industry is tough and what a struggle it is. I will produce all kinds of regional cinema as well. I have always maintained that promoting regional cinema is important,” she says about turning producer.
Bhojpuri film titled Bam Bam Bol Raha Hai Kashi was the first film produced under her banner. That same year, Marathi film Ventilator, that won three National Awards, was produced by her too. Sikkimese film Pahuna – The Little Visitors, produced by her, also got the coveted Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) world premiere last year.
With seven films already produced by her and several more to go, there’s no stopping Priyanka, who also plans on producing some Hollywood projects some day.
Anushka Sharma, along with her brother Karnesh Sharma, launched Clean Slate Films in 2014. So far, the production house has produced and co-produced four of her films – NH10, Phillauri, Pari, and Kaneda. The brother and sister believe in helping films that ‘the audience loves, while backing exciting, hot new talent‘.
Twinkle Khanna gave up acting 17 years ago and has since dabbled in a lot of other projects including a flourishing writing career as well as a producer. While the first film she helped produce – Tees Maar Khan – starring her husband Akshay Kumar, might have been a bad idea given the film flopped at the box office, the subsequent movies she helped produce fared better.
She is producing PadMan, again starring Akshay, and is based on Coimbatore-based entrepreneur A Muruganantham’s story. Promoting menstrual hygiene and initiating a dialogue on a taboo subject like period, the film is directed by R Balki and features actresses such as Radhika Apte and Sonam Kapoor.
Neetu Chandra, a popular face in Hindi and Tamil films, has produced two films so far – Deswa (2011), a Bhojpuri film and Mithila Makhan (2016), Maithili film, both directed by her brother Nitin Chandra.