The renowned film producer and entrepreneur Ashi Dua spoke to The Feminist Times about her journey, experience and some exciting new projects.
Ashi Dua who has a production company behind films like Bombay Talkies, Lust Stories and Ghost Stories; also produced the 1st Tamil original for Netflix- Paava Kadhiagal and the first Telugu original – Pitta Kathalu. Both of these films have received immense response and appreciation. She also has a fashion company, The Dhoom Dhaam Company, which she co-founded with her friend & stylist, Tanya Ghavri.
On being asked how would she describe the insecurities, learnings, and determination of the 17 year old Ashi who had just started working, Ashi said, “I started interning when I was 17 and in college and I started my company at 22. So from 17 to 21 I was basically interning with various organizations- you know how it is when you first get an interns job, you’re only observing the work, the job you’re actually doing is too logistical and secretarial but even then there was so much to gain from that experience, you get to be in an environment with such dynamic people, there's something to learn from everyone and luckily I had pretty good bosses from whom I learnt a lot. I think the initial 3-4 years of working in these corporate houses gave me an understanding of how things grow and work, and I think that is what gave me the courage to start my own company that young- and yeah since then I’ve been on my own and I’ve worked for myself.”
Q. There is a certain perception that people hold of the industry, of it not being very inclusive to new comers or towards women at managerial positions. But there are claims that this is changing, what do you think?
“You know talking solely from my experience, there has never been any gender disparity that I’ve faced- this was true when I was 22 and even today. I was never made to feel like an outsider. And I completely agree that today when someone’s reading a script, they won’t take into account if it’s written by a man or a woman or who is it being produced by or directed by. Though I have heard stories but I think the disparity is definitely diminishing and honestly, in my case I never had to face anything close to that. And talking about inclusivity I think people today in the industry are greedy to do good stuff, so if what you bring to the table is something you believe in and something that has value, it’s getting the right recognition today.
Q. Do you think in the last one year OTT platforms had a major role to play in recognizing this diversity?
“Yeah of course OTT has bloomed in the last one year, I myself produced two films- one in Tamil and the other in Telugu, however, it’s also getting a bit challenging for any producer. Because earlier when all of the ‘big boys’- as we like to call them, were not on ott we had more of a chance to get our stuff in more easily but now that the whole industry wants to be on it, everyone’s chances further reduce.
Q. Would you say that male producers have more advantages than any other?
“I honestly think women make great producers because they’re much better at handling relationships, finance, people management which is what makes any woman a solid producer. And you know honestly I feel like female producers have a sort of advantage over the male producers.
When asked if in the ideation of any script or project is there some ideal like feminism or justice or anything that is kept in mind that leads to the creation of such strong characters & stories, Ashi said, “You know I’ve never done a project thinking I want to do a feminist project. What I do believe happens is that there’s a synergy of people wanting to work together to produce something great and I think in the process of that it’s all our souls reflecting in our work somewhere- be it in songs, costumes, strong characters, the story, fashion etc.
Q. What is the advice you’d give to young girls, women, the youth & anyone who aspires to do something like you?
“If I had to give a single piece of advice it would just be, that you should never worry about where you’re coming from and if you’ll be accepted. I’m from Bareilly, UP and I think I managed it quite well only because I believed in what I was doing and I continue to believe that I still have so much more to do, learn and explore. So trust me when I say this, if I can, you can!“
- interviewed by Kuhu Srivastava