In just two years Prernaa Arora has established herself among the foremost film producers of Bollywood with two back-to-back hit Rustom and Toilet: Ek Prem Katha to her credit, and a third Pad Man about to be unveiled to the curious public. It’s not such an easy journey to make for a woman in Bollywood even if Prernaa’s father Virendra Arora was a producer to reckon with.
Prernaa had to start from scratch. There were no successful female producers before her. Except maybe Shabnam Kapoor. “Yes I’ve heard of her. This is a very tough job for a woman. There are no female producers per se, unless you count the actresses like Priyanka Chopra and Anushka Sharma who have turned producers after attaining success as actors,” observes Prernaa.
Prernaa had no such transitional plans. “It was straight to production for me. Luckily I started with a superstar as disciplined and generous as Akshay Kumar Sir in Rustom. It can’t get any better than him.”
Now when she is ready to release her third consecutive film with Akshay in the lead Prernaa looks at the future not as a female producer but as direct competition for the other Bollywood producers. “No one is going to be extra-kind to you just because you are a woman producer. It’s all for himself or herself in the entertainment industry. And I’m proud to say I am making my way through my chosen profession without having to play the feminine card,” says Prernaa who has no patience with gender discrimination.
“One hears so much these days about women in the entertainment business being exploited. Of course there are Harvey Weinsteins in Bollywood too. One of my ambitions is to make our film industry a safe place for women to work in,” says Prernaa dreamily.
A part of her dream scheme to eradicate gender discrimination is to do films that address themselves to the issue of discrimination. “Pad Man is about menstrual hygiene, a topic that a large population of our women shy away from addressing. We hope to open up a debate, eliminate the inhibitions that obstruct a healthy conversation on the subject of sanitary napkins. Thanks to the presence of Akshay Sir in Pad Man and Balki Sir as our director, so many known faces have come forward to promote our cause. This the kind of cinema I want to do.”
On the anvil are projects with Shah Rukh Khan, Ranveer Singh, Varun Dhawan, Shahid Kapoor… “And why are you forgetting Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Deepika Padukone the female superstar of Bollywood? They are both playing the lead for my productions in solidly-written films that do justice to their presence. I’ll never produce a film where the woman is weak whiny or wimpy. Because that’s not the way I am in real life,” says Arora emphatically.