A blend of passion, talent and hard work is giving rich dividends to Prernaa Arora – one of the youngest producers in Bollywood.
After two back to back successes in collaboration with Akshay Kumar – 2016’s Rustom and Toilet Ek Prem Katha this year, there is no looking back for Arora, who spearheads Kriarj Entertainment. She is all set to take the challenge of film production, not once but twice in the coming year, by clashing with superstars Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan.
Come Eid 2018 and her next film Fanney Khan, starring Anil Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Rajkummar Rao will have a face off at the box office with Salman Khan’s Race 3. Further, if all goes as per schedule, Arora’s eighth release Kedarnath, the debut film of Saif Ali Khan’s daughter, Sara, will take Shah Rukh-Katrina Kaif-Anushka Sharma and Aanand L Rai’s film head on in the Christmas week (December 21).
“I am also grabbing the festival releases like stars, I have picked up the same dates,” she laughs oozing confidence.
“For Kedarnath, we need a big weekend as I want a long run for the film. I don’t want any big film to come opposite it as it might divert the audience. The film is about Hindu-Muslim humanity, love and sacrifice. My characters are Hindu and Muslim and it’s a tribute to Lord Shiva. So December 21 is the right date. Let the best film win, let the audience decide. My motive is to make a good film. I don’t want my audience to say, ‘Arre yaar, yeh kya banaya…’ Every film is couture, every film is handpicked. We make films with lot of confidence,” says Arora, who enjoys working on the business and the strategy part and leaves the creative aspect to her partner, Arjun N Kapoor.
Besides Fanney Khan and Kedarnath, she has many more impressive line ups in the coming year beginning with Akshay Kumar-Sonam Kapoor’s Padman; Pari with Anushka Sharma in association with actress’ Clean Slate Films; Parmanu starring John Abraham in association with his JA Entertainment; Irrfan and Deepika Padukone’s fictional thriller which is co-produced by Vishal Bharadwaj, and Shahid Kapoor’s Batti Gul Meter Chalu which is directed by Toilet Ek Prem Katha director, Shree Narayan Singh.
So what is it that she is doing right?
“It is the blend of the right scripts, right films, right cinema and the right business. We have never ever been over confident. Even as we feel that the script is great, we always make sure that our backward planning and infrastructure is strong. We plan our structure correctly knowing that we just have a two week run for the films, and this learning has come from Akshay sir. He has taught us that film should be made in time, not to invest too much, come out faster and pre-sell satellite and digital rights first; not to keep things for the end moment,” she informs.
Though Arora says that she wants to work with Akshay as much as she can, in the future she also plans to work with Shah Rukh once she’s armed with a good script.
“I want to work with everybody but I like the perfection that Akshay brings. He internally safeguards you as a producer. He doesn’t want anyone to suffer loss and justifies whatever he takes as his fee. Normally I see lot of variations with the other films I am doing but he’s one of a kind,” says Arora, furthering, “The films that we are doing outside are being done with Akshay’s consent and only after discussing with him. We always run our scripts with him, he tells us never to hurry with content and script. I plan to collaborate again with him sometime early or mid next year.”
Many mistake her to be the daughter of a producer or a distributor but the fact is that there’s absolutely no film connection as her father is an agriculturist. But yes, the business of entertainment seems well rooted in her genes — her grandfather owns one of Mumbai’s favourite circuses — Kamala Circus. “People wonder how I understand business. It could be an inborn talent. One has to be good in the profession we choose, we should know our job thoroughly,” says Arora.
While many enter the industry with the aim of becoming an actor, Arora chose to become a producer which she feels is a real challenge.
“But producers are also stars nowadays. Look at Karan Johar, all the limelight is on him, and even Ekta Kapoor. I want to become like how Karan is. He is like a business star. He is pursuing his passion, his talent and at the same time he is enjoying the limelight. These days producers, directors are getting respect. They are liked for their work. Directors like Raju Hirani or Nagraj Manjule (Sairat) can be called the biggest stars and I want to achieve that for myself,” says Arora.
But it wasn’t easy for her to make a mark in the industry. “It is very hard. Destiny is very important followed by talent. More than nepotism, it is the insiders of the film industry who are given preference. Star kids are already getting lot of attention. They are always in the limelight. It is easy for them but for the outsiders it is very tough be an actor, director, producer, technician…their journey is different,” says Arora.
Secondly, proving herself in the male dominated industry has been another huge challenge for Arora.
“Since we have very few women producers, it surprises them all the time. We also have very few women directors, just about 15 per cent. Now actresses have become producers, which is a different thing because they already have the power, creativity. I want to hit people with my work,” she says.
Bollywood has always been divided into camps, and Prernaa doesn’t deny being in Akshay’s camp. But it is not too far when she will start working with other superstars as well as she believes that actors are only looking at working with the right professionals. “Just money doesn’t pull good actors. It’s the combination of good script, viability, fee…” she says.