Showbiz is in my blood: Prernaa Arora

The rapid rise of Prernaa Arora and her production house Kriarj Entertainment is the stuff celluloid dreams are made   of. Within  a relatively  short  time of two years Prernaahas consolidated  her position as  Bollywood’s only female  producer with  the balls  of her male counterparts. In an interview with Subhash K Jha  Prernaa Arora opens her heart out about making her  presence  felt in a man’s world.

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So how does it feel when  you are called the female Karan Johar?

(Laughs) I don’t know if Karan  Johar would like that. But I’d rather be known as Prernaa Arora. From the time I could remember I wanted to be  a producer , just like  my father Virendra Arora .We owned a circus Kamala Circus that was named after myNaani(maternal grandmother).So showbiz is in my blood.

Considering you  look better than many heroines  you work with,  didn’t you think of  becoming a leading lady?

Never! It was always production for me. And  I am so glad I stuck to my decision  to be  a producer. I am thoroughly enjoying my job. It is invigorating and challenging to put together projects and watch  them grow in front of you. It’s almost like  a mother’s pride as her  child grows up in  front  of her. Luckily for me I’ve a production partner Arjun N  Kapoor who’s as driven and passionate about cinema as  I am.

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Did you grow up watching Hindi films?

Oh yes. In Dehra Dun where I grew up there was nowhere for a growing girl to go. I never believed in  culture of pubs and late nights. My parents never had to wait up for me anxiously. I  was  never out in the night. I was always at home watching vintage classics.I love the movies  of Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Basu Chatterjee and Anil Ganguly. I have seen  films  like Anand, Bawarchi, Chit Chor, Piya Ka Ghar and Tapasya  so  many times I know them by heart.

Did these  ‘middle of the road’  filmmakers and  their films influence you into becoming a filmmaker?

Oh absolutely. These filmmakers made me realize that films can be entertaining and meaningful. I’d never produce mindless entertainers.I am sure of that. My partner Arjun and I have the same taste in cinema.So we were both on the same page when we produced  our first  film Rustom.When that became a hit we were immediately an established production company. Then  followed Toilet: Ek Prem Katha and Now Padman. All successes. I am blessed.

What was  it like working in three back-to-back  films with Akshay Kumar?

He is  my  inspiration and my guiding light. I  look up to Akshay Sir. I love his choice of cinema.Thanks to  him we at KriArj have had cent-percent success so far. If I had my way my production house would collaborate only with Akshay Sir. According to me he is a complete actor and a complete human being. Look at the kind of cinema he  does!Whether it is toilet sanitation  or menstrual hygiene, he is not shy of  taking on any social issue and  giving it  an engaging  twist.

As a woman  in  a man’s world have you found it hard to make your way through Bollywood?

I won’t lie to you. It’s not easy being a woman producer. But there is  Ekta  Kapoor before me.The image  of an average film producer in Bollywood  is  very different from what I  represent. So yes, initially there was a certain amount of resistance in allowing me into a  male domain. But I was  adamant.I made sure I didn’t use my gender to make any headway. Equality of the sexes according to me , is about equal opportunities for men and women. Don’t  pull up a chair me  just because I am a woman. But don’t pull that chair from under me either.

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 Have  you had bad experiences  in the film industry?
Nothing to complain about.  Nothing to feel sorry about for myself. The three films that KriArj has produced so far have all made my parents  proud of me.To me that  is what matters. For my next two films Pari and Parmanu The Story Of  Pokhran , KriArj has collaborated with  Anushka Sharma and John Abraham. I hope these collaborations are as successful as our three films so far have been.We want  to  continue our interrupted success.We are greedy(laughs).

Padman, Pari, Parmanu, Pokhran…What’s you connection with the letter ‘P’?

(Laughs)  Yes, come to think of  it, ‘P’  is as lucky for  me as  ‘K’ is for Ekta Kapoor.

Yes, and look what happened to your Kedarnath which had ‘K’ instead  of ‘P’?

I am  not saying anything right now.All I will say is, one has  to take the  good with the bad. No bouquet of  roses comes without the thorns. God has been very kind to  our production house. We  hope to  continue making the films that would make HrishikeshMukherjee and Basu Chatterjee smile.

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Any plans  of  re-making any  of their films?

I’d love to.And I am looking at it. But their films are so  perfectly pitched in their  mellow happy mood. I am scared to tamper with them. We are doing  a remake of Satyen Bose’s classic  Raat Aur Din where the very beautiful Aishwarya Rai Bachchan will play the legendary Nargisji’s role.

You can play the lead in Raat Aur Din yourself?

No thank  you. I am happy being behind  the camera. Maybe one day I’ll direct a film.

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