Prerna Arora’s production banner KriArj Entertainment is on a roll. After her National Award-winning Rustom, the lady is currently busy with her co-production, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha. She also has her hands full with other projects like John Abraham’s Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran, Akshay Kumar and Twinkle Khanna’s Padman, Anil Kapoor and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s Fanney Khan, Abhishek Kapoor’s Kedarnath, Anushka Sharma’s Pari and Vishal Bharadwaj’s Sapna Didi.
But the 28-year-old producer isn’t complaining. “You cannot achieve anything without working hard,” she says, adding that it’s important to have management skills and never be over-confident about a project. Planning is also necessary."
Gender doesn’t matter
Bollywood, despite being a male-dominated industry, does appreciate good work irrespective of gender, says Prerna. “There’s no denying that it’s a male-dominated industry but people respect you, if you have merit. They are not concerned about the gender,” she says.
Prerna says it’s challenging to make films. “Filmmaking is a big gamble because you make a great film and it doesn’t work. Sometimes a not-so-great film works. I firmly believe that along with god’s blessing, you also need luck,” she explains, adding, “I haven’t taken a single holiday in the last three years; I am not able to go the gym, but I am not complaining.”
While most people join the film industry to become an actor, Prerna says that it was her childhood dream to become a producer. “My mother always pushed me to become a producer, because my maternal side of the family is into entertainment business. My dad, who plays a vital role in my life, is an agriculturist. I always wanted to make my father proud, so I have always pushed myself to achieve more,” she says.
Prerna, who is one of youngest producers in Bollywood, says that she is still learning the ropes, so she prefers co-producing films. “When we are working on a big film, a collaboration is better, because we do not have expertise in every department. In collaborations, the work is divided and so are responsibilities. We have great respect for those with whom we have collaborated,” she says.
Prerna has collaborated with Akshay Kumar on three projects, for which she calls herself ‘lucky’. “We completely believe in him and his choice of films as an actor. There’s no denying that he is one of the most saleable, bankable actors and producers in the country,” she adds.
Why Toilet: Ek Prem Katha is relevant
Her latest film Toilet... has created immense buzz because of its theme. The film highlights the need to build more toilets in the country. Starring Akshay Kumar, Bhumi Pednekar and Anupam Kher, the film releases on August 11. Prerna says, “I can promise you that it’s a very good film. In fact, families should watch the film because it’s a very relevant subject. In India, there are still so many homes where there’s no toilet.”
She adds that those living in cities should watch the film because the film promotes some basic thoughts like hygiene, welfare and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
Audience wants stories connected to their roots
Since her first film, her projects have been socially relevant and not out-and-out commercial. Prerna says it’s a conscious decision. “That’s because, people today want to watch a film which is meaningful. A film cannot be just a no-brain entertainer, though there’s a crowd for that too. But more and more viewers want to watch stories in which ‘India is Shining’. They also want to watch movies which are connected to their roots. That’s why films like Dangal, Airlift and Rustom have done well. Sanjay sir (Dutt) had told me that his father Sunil Dutt, had already made a film on K M Nanavati case, but he faced many difficulties while releasing the film. We faced no such issues, because the audience is exposed to a wide variety of cinema via Netflix and Hollywood nowadays.”
The producer is happy with her line-up of films. “Kedarnath is a beautiful love story. When I sent Parmanu’s script to John, it took him a minute to come on board. I can guarantee you that no other actress has attempted what Anuskha has done in Pari. It’s an extraordinary film. I am also excited about Sapna Didi, which stars Deepika Padukone and Irrfan Khan. Vishal sir is a strong storyteller and you lose yourself in his films,” she adds.