Anushka Sharma was just 25 when she started her own production company, Clean Slate Filmz with her brother Karnesh Sharma. The actress had just delivered a slew of blockbusters like PK and Jab Tak Hai Jaan when she delivered her first film as a producer in 2015 with NH10. A film unlike any other seen at that time was a dark and violent tale about honour killing and the deep-rooted patriarchy in India. People saw an Anushka they had never seen before, the glamorous Bollywood celebrity was replaced by the de-glammed actor, and with it there was a hint of her brilliance as a producer.
By the time Phillauri was announced in 2017, people knew that the actress liked taking risks. The film, while being a comedy, had its roots in social issues. The actress, who said in multiple sources that she started her company because she wanted different kind of stories about women being told. By the time Phillauri was released, albeit amid mixed-reviews, it was clear that she was keen on keeping her word.
With Pari, we saw Anushka at her finest as an actor. A performance like that might have required extremely levels of hard-work and dedication and to top it off by bankrolling the projects, Anushka was slowly and surely demanding to be taken seriously. And she was. This was also the film where she proved that she cared about the right casting. With seasoned actors like Parambrata Chatterjee and Rajat Kapoor, Anushka was making content without the support of another big name attached to the project. A similar casting sense can be seen in Bulbbul.
With the Amazon Prime show Paatal Lok, all shreds of doubt about Anushka's capability as a producer was gone. A gritty social commentary based in the underbelly of crime in Delhi NCR, Paatal Lok fearlessly talked about Us VS Them. While many of her peers have chosen to remain silent about on-going issues, Anushka expressed her concern not through social media but through her body of work. Like true artist and businesswoman. Most people considered the show the biggest surprise of Anushka's career, and did not think that she would top it. At least in the same year. But within a month Bulbbul came along.
With Bulbbul Anushka Sharma stands true to her promise about making films about women. And this time it is a woman telling a woman's story, which takes it up a notch. Anvita Dutt tells an exquisite story of a woman who has been deemed as a witch in the society. While many thought it would be related to Pari, which explores similar supernatural themes, Bulbbul is a supernatural thriller set in the 19th century. It is revolutionary and feminist in its own right and giving away any more about the film would be unfair. But one thing is for certain, the producer Anushka Sharma has finally arrived and here to stay.
What makes her so successful as a producer in 2020 is that she has put her neck on the line since 2013. She has been giving the platform to first-time filmmakers and telling stories before the time has been changed enough to accept them. She was one of the people who wanted change and did something about it. We are just proud spectators, of a girl who started out in the big bad world of Bollywood on her own as a girl who could not recognize her own husband without a mustache, and is now a force to reckon with, in feminist storytelling.
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