A trend that has caught upon Bollywood recently is actors turning producers for their own films or to launch a favoured someone in the industry. It is a shift from the monotonous route wherein a filmmaker would traditionally launch his or her production house and churn out talent.
Breaking this chain are some of the big names in B-town who can generate footfall in theatres with mere association. The Khans, who had already taken up the production space for the last two decades, and are now joined by the leading ladies of tinsel town.
Bollywood’s Mr Perfectionist Aamir Khan is one of the best examples of an actor venturing as a producer. Not only he’s good at his work onscreen, but he delves into the project, including the fine details in order for it to be a success.
Aamir commenced his work with Lagaan (2001), which was a superhit, and is till date hailed as one of the best films made in Bollywood. However, he refrained from producing films back to back, with his next one being Taare Zameen Par (2007), another one that went well with the audience. He also wore the hat while launching his nephew Imran Khan in Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na (2008), who also tasted success overnight.
After a hiatus of a couple of years Aamir returned with another hit Dangal (2016) that became the highest grossing Hindi film of the decade. He will also be turning producer for Laal Singh Chaddha (2020), for which even Kareena Kapoor, who has never auditioned, obliged, because it’s an Aamir Khan film.
Shah Rukh Khan
Following Aamir’s footsteps Shah Rukh Khan launched Red Chillies Entertainment in 2002. But very few know that prior to coming forth as a company, he had turned producer for his films Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani (2000) and Aśoka (2001).
His official success as a producer co-handled by his wife Gauri Khan, came with the Farah Khan directorial Main Hoon Na (2004) and Om Shanti Om (2007) by the same director. Since these films gave him the confidence to invest, his stardom hit a roadblock after his acting career saw a downward graph after Chennai Express (2013). He gave back to back flops all the way till Zero (2018). With no films lined up as of now, he did announce his next one as a producer for Bob Biswas (2020) starring Abhishek Bachchan.
Salman Khan arrived late to the party, but indeed took up his space by storm. After a literal baby step as a producer with Chillar Party (2011), Khan gained momentum as a strong producer with Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015). He then used his production power to launch Sooraj Pancholi and Athiya Shetty in Hero (2015), which was a flop. Other newbies who took shelter under his wing but failed to impress were Aayush Sharma and Warina Hussain in Loveyatri (2018), and Zaheer Iqbal in Notebook (2019).
Salman had the flops coming when reports of his interference made rounds. The attitude of my life my rules didn’t work well when it came to being a producer. His series of flops such as Tubelight (2017), Race 3 (2017), and Bharat (2019), which even made Priyanka Chopra walk out, is enough to prove Salman isn’t going anywhere with his in-house projects. His last flick Dabangg 3 (2019) also didn’t fare well as the box office.
Meanwhile reports of his future line-up such as Radhe (2020), Kick 2 or even Dabangg 4 are giving the critics a premonition of more downfalls to happen in the coming days.
Desi girl Priyanka Chopra, who made it big in the west, launched her Purple Pebble Productions in 2015. She learnt her lesson to not jump into Bollywood, but instead worked to bring regional movies on the forefront of mainstream cinema. She proved herself as a producer with films like Ventilator (2016) and Paani (2019) both in Marathi. Her latest investment was in The Sky is Pink (2019), which didn’t do well at the box office after facing clash with other commercial films like War and Joker.
Anushka Sharma also started around the same time and deliver only one film per year as a producer, which include NH10 (2015), Phillauri (2017) and Pari (2018). She resumed acting for big budget films simultaneously and has been reported to essay the role of cricketer Jhulan Goswami in her next.
Coming to the latest addition to the list, Deepika Padukone’s first project Chhapaak under Ka Productions (among others) also got rejected at the box office. While it did deliver a strong message under the directorship by Meghna Gulzar, the film missed its mark to create a wider impact. Furthermore she has also turned producer for her husband Ranveer Singh’s film ’83, in which she essays the role of his reel wife as well. Deepika also announced her mythological venture to star and produce in the Mahabharata franchise as Draupadi.
The question that pops, does being a good actor also mean one can lead a production house and deliver good content with a business perspective? It has been a hit and miss for our celebs. Heading as a producer also means being involved as a curator behind the scenes, and not bossing around like a know it all. Like any workplace it means effective decentralisation of work with minimum interference often called as creative inputs. Some get it right, some go horribly wrong. The elements of box office has changed over the years, and it’s high time, actors who want to multi-task grip on to the tide that sways the audience in their favour. Not by name, but by good work.