IN A remote, nondescript village called Bap—about 180 km from Jodhpur in Rajasthan—co-producer Mansi Maroo of Shemaroo Entertainment is filming the climax of Dedh Ishqiya, the sequel of the hit 2010 film, Ishqiya. Her phone signal keeps dropping and her hotel is miles away from the production area. That she is amidst parched, desolate lands doesn’t seem to bother her much; all that is palpable is her enthusiasm for the movie.
Being a woman, in what was traditionally regarded a man’s job, is no more a hurdle for anyone wishing to carve out a niche in the film and television industry. Over the years, Bollywood has seen a rapid metamorphosis—from a brazen boys’ club to a progressive, women-friendly frat party. Modern-day liberalisation and corporatisation of cinema have seen many women flying off as captains on leading film and television projects.
“A producer’s job is to bring the whole project together within the stipulated time frame and within the specified budgets. Whether you are a man or a woman, the challenges are the same,” says Maroo.
Dedh Ishqiya was released worldwide on January 10 this year and received rave reviews from film critics. “The idea of Ishqiya first germinated on the sets of the film, Omkara. I was assistant director to Vishal Bhardwaj. Abhishek Chaubey was also involved with the project. Post-Omkara, we got talking as to how we could take Ishqiya forward. Chaubey wanted to direct. A lot of time was spent on the script for the sequel. The drafts went back and forth, and there were issues with the casting. But when it all came together, we managed a great script and cast. It was altogether a fantastic experience,” reminisces Maroo.
Breaking the glass ceiling The fairer sex is no longer considered second among equals in the film and television business. Take another young woman, Ashi Dua, for instance. The 28-year-old producer founded a company called Flying Unicorn Entertainment and got filmmakers Anurag Kashyap, Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Banerjee and Karan Johar on board to direct a short film each, which was collectively presented in the film, Bombay Talkies. The film commemorated 100 years of Indian cinema.
The list goes on. Rhea Kapoor, who is just 26 years old, was the producer of the film Aisha, which was a remake of Jane Austen’s Emma. Manmohan Shetty’s daughters Pooja Shetty Deora and Aarti Shetty, who run the production company, Walkwater Media, made the