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Calm After The Storm

After delivering a successful film like Kedarnath recently, producer Pragya Kapoor talks to Titas Chowdhury about the tumultous times that the film went through, collaborating with her husband and much more

Producer Pragya Kapoor is riding high on the critical and commercial success of Kedarnath, her husband Abhishek Kapoor’s directorial. Balancing one’s personal and professional lives isn’t easy. But Kapoor is a pro at it. As she shows us around her office, partly converted into a nursery after the birth of her second child, she says, “My baby is always with me. Otherwise, I cannot do it. He is too small. I keep moving from my computer to the perambulator to the baby chair. That is how I balance it.”

The first film on which she worked with her husband was the romantic drama, Fitoor in 2016. Kedarnath marks her first full-fledged project as producer. “I learnt a lot while working on Fitoor and so I definitely wanted to work with Gattu (Abhishek Kapoor). I only became a part of the film after the first schedule was complete,” she reveals.

Since the very beginning, Kedarnath was embroiled in controversies. With the film finally hitting the screens after umpteen delays, Kapoor is now glowing with joy. “Now that the film has done well, we can heave a sigh of relief. We had been waiting for the day for the film to release. For me, that was the moment I had been waiting for more than anything else.”

Elaborating on the tough times, she says, “Whether the film would or would not do well was not our main concern. To simply finish making it and watching it see the light of day was such a big achievement because of what all we went through. You only know what happened from what you read in the newspapers or what you may have heard from someone. But there was so much more to it. I was with Gattu every single day, every step of the way, during those tough times.”

“We just had to go with the flow. There were a lot of things happening at the same time. There was so much at stake. I was pregnant with my second baby at that time. We could not pay as much attention to it as we should have. We were so keen on completing the film and releasing it. There was also the added responsibility of launching Sara (Ali Khan). It was her debut film. We wanted her to get a good release with her first film. Not just her, there were other people who were involved with the film, whether the DoP or the other technicians,” Kapoor recalls.

It is often said that film production is a male-dominated industry. With producers like Kapoor and a few others, the tables are slowly but steadily turning. The Kedarnath producer, however, disagrees. “I do not think there is a dearth of female producers in the film industry. It is just that they work behind the camera, which is why a lot of them do not get recognition. It is the directors who are the faces of the film. The producers never really come to the limelight. There is Rucha (Pathak) from Fox, Sunita Gowarikar and so many others. Sunita produces her husband’s movies.”

The next step for Kapoor is to produce films directed by other filmmakers. Giving us a sneak peek into what she is doing next, she excitedly says, “Right now, I am going through a bunch of scripts and have come across a few really interesting ones. We are figuring out which director fits which script better and are getting them on board.”

Kapoor, who only recently turned producer, has also been an actor. She was trained in acting and was last seen in Amole Gupte’s Hawaa Hawaai, which released in 2014. Will we get to see her performing in front of the camera any time soon? “Acting is not my first priority. It is not something that I would push myself to do. It is more like an organic thing. If something comes my way and it excites me, I would do it. Right now, it is not a priority. I will stay behind the camera for the time being, which is something I love.”

Producers are known for their creative involvement in films, but Kapoor believes that directors should be left to do their work. She explains, “I let Gattu do his own thing. I only made sure that I worked around the budget and that he could translate his vision. If there was something that went beyond our budget, I would let him know so that he could reimagine the scenes and set it someplace else that was more viable without tampering with the essence.”

Kapoor believes that a filmmaker’s passion and vision are the prime elements that drive a film and that is enough to convince her to back it. A good script and the director’s belief in his scripts are most important as opposed to its commercial prospects. When asked about her process of green-lighting projects, she reveals, “The director’s vision and passion are most important. I make sure that I work around the budgets in such a way so that they can make their film with the same amount of passion and belief. Everything else comes later.” 

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