Monday, June 27News That Matters

Is it the lure of money or passion for story telling which is pushing actors to become producers?

Gurnaaz Kaur

In the last few weeks, many actors have made news for launching their production houses. But this isn’t a new phenomenon. Actors in the past have chosen to produce their own films.

Back in 1995, Amitabh Bachchan had established Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Ltd, which after making a sitcom and some films got re-launched as AB Corp in 2001.

After a dream run together, Juhi Chawla and Shah Rukh Khan came up with a production company called Dreamz Films Unlimited in 1999. Some years later it got transformed into Red Chillies Entertainment, a production and distribution company established by SRK and wife Gauri Khan.

Aamir Khan, John Abraham, Salman Khan, Anushka Sharma, Ranbir Kapoor, Dia Mirza, Tisca Chopra, Farhan Akhtar, Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone and so many actors have jumped on the bandwagon.

So, what really makes these actors don the producer’s hat? Well, there are many aspects to this one decision. Varying from having the control to back a project you believe in, a tried and tested method for earning big moolah or even using it as a launch vehicle, there is a lot at play.

Critical view

Bollywood critic Komal Nahata terms it a trend that started because the top heroes and the leading ladies realised that the margin of profits which producers earn is huge. “Thanks to revenue from satellite, digital rights which were new avenues. These actors knew they were the selling point, so they decided to turn producers to take advantage of their stardom,” says Nahata. Besides money, longevity of career is more for a producer. As Atul Mohan, the editor-in-chief of Film Trade Magazine, puts it, “Of course, money is an undeniable factor, but for how long can an actor play a hero?”

A gradual progression

A phrase that’s been doing the rounds more than ever is ‘content is the king’ or hero in this case. Even though A-listers, including Salman Khan, can take the risk of making films such as Dabbang or Radhe, but those who aren’t the leads, it is only and only good content that works as their strong point. Shreyas Talpade has produced a Marathi film under his banner and when the film was remade in Hindi, he debuted as its director. The actor chose to branch out because he had stories to tell.

“I think it’s a natural and organic progression, you evolve as an actor into someone who wants to tell his own stories. I turned producer because there was a story I wanted to tell the world in my own way.”

Real-life couple Ravi Dubey and Sargun Mehta launched their maiden TV show Udaariyaan as producers. From being in the stories to becoming storytellers, the thought is to engage the audience. “Whether in the realm of television or in Punjabi cinema or OTT— for us these are dimensions of the same giant creative industry. So when Sargun developed the entire concept of the show, both of us strongly felt this story had to reach the masses. The switch in roles happened seamlessly because at the very core, be it as actors or makers, we intend to give something meaningful and relatable to our audience,” says Ravi Dubey

Surging girl power

First Richa Chadha and then Taapsee Pannu, these two actresses announced the launch of their production houses in the last few weeks. With more women joining forces, it’s a move towards balance of gender at work. And one can hope for more women-centric content too.

Quoting Deepika’s example, Atul Mohan explains, “In most commercial masala Bollywood films, a heroine isn’t so important. But every artiste wants to be remembered for their work. And films like Padmaavat are rare in the careers of women, so when they can, they would like to produce content that they like. Now Deepika’s debut production Chhapaak is something that will stay on.”

Having appeared in Hindi, Bengali and Telugu cinema, Rimi Sen ventured into the business for production since she thinks, “Girls have a very short span in the glamour industry. It’s better to earn fame and get into the business for long-term returns.”

Taapsee Pannu on creating Outsider Films said that it would mean doing the ground job for every project and not just having a share in profit. She says, “I look forward to opening doors for new and fresh talents, both in front and behind the camera. Now, that doesn’t mean I will only give work to outsiders.”

Personal growth

It’s common to see most of these actors as producers in their own projects. Ranjha Vikram, who turned to production, says, “I have given so many years to the industry but I was not getting the kind of work I deserved. So, I decided why not pave the way for my passion. I recently did a Hindi film Fauji Calling that had Sharman Joshi and myself in the lead. This was my only way of getting my due.”

Filmmaker Aditya Kripalani also thinks it’s a way of doing what you want to do with your talent. “Especially for actors, who reach a certain point in their career, becoming producers is the easiest way to create a good role for themselves rather than wait for someone to bring it if and when.”

Having worked as an actor, scriptwriter and director, Durba Sahay, who has had three of her films screened at Cannes, says producing a film is not a small decision. “I believe the most important reason behind it is the lack of versatile roles to play. No one likes being typecast. There are also times when other producers don’t put faith in the script an actor wants to be a part of. It was in a similar situation that Aamir Khan decided to produce Lagaan himself.”

Rest is history.

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