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Ficci Frames 2024: ‘Let us unapologetically just be…’ high powered women in Indian film and TV industry tell all..

Ficci Frames 2024: ‘Let us unapologetically just be…’ high powered women in Indian film and TV industry tell all..
  • Women execs still feel judged and ignored sometimes, they tell meet of top Indian industry players…
  • Actor Richa Chadha doesn’t want to keep attending panels where the subject of women’s position in the film and tv industry keeps arising
  • Top star Rani Mukerjee believes the Indian film industry has a lot to offer globally…


RANI MUKERJEE and Richa Chadha were among two of the star actors talking about their careers at Ficci Frames, the three-day film business conference which began yesterday.

Rani Mukerjee

Organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) and now in its 24th edition, the conference aims to bring together India’s biggest entertainment producers and players to talk about the media and entertainment landscape in the country.

One of India’s biggest studios, Yash Raj Films (YRF) confirmed that it will introduce Bollywood sensation Alia Bhatt to its hugely successful Indian Spy movie franchise.

Akshaye Widhani, CEO YRF said: “It is the worst kept secret. Talking about the Spy universe we’re excited about having this IP (intellectual property) in the studio. I think it’s a financial and intellectual juggernaut.”

He said the studio was working on the other possible franchise ideas as a spin-offs as well and said more or less to expect more in the same vein.

The YRF Spy series began with ‘Ek Tha Tiger’ in 2012, starring Bollywood icons Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif. Established star Hrithik Roshan then appeared alongside upcoming name Tiger Shroff in ‘War’ in 2019 and then in 2023, YFR introduced Bollywood’s top man, Shah Rukh Khan, as an Indian agent in ‘Pathaan’ alongside one of the industry’s most popular leading ladies, Deepika Padukone. It was among the most successful of Indian blockbuster films of 2023.

Richa Chadha

Widhani also said YFR would go back to making romantic Bollywood films with which it made its name in the 1980s and 1990s.

Incidentally Mukerjee is married to Aditya Chopra, head of YRF, and son of legendary filmmaker Yash Chopra, who was also one of the leading lights in creating Frames.

In her fireside chat with well known Indian film critic Rajeev Masand, Mukerjee said that her husband stuck to his guns during and just after the pandemic – choosing to release all the films they had made on the big screen – but they all flopped in 2021-22.

However, ‘Pathaan’ was a huge hit and reassured producers everywhere that there was still money in making popular Bollywood films with big stars and high octane action and thrills.

Ekta Kapoor

Mukerjee is a strong advocate for Indian cinema and said that Indian movies were best when telling Indian stories with deep emotions.

“A well-told story creeps into your heart,” she said memorably.

One of the the last sessions of the day was ‘Trailblazers in Entertainment – Celebrating Women’s Contributions to Films and TV’.

Chadha, who is also a producer, told moderator and broadcaster Vikram Chandra: “I am tired of appearing on these panels.”

Aradhana Bole

The ‘Furkey3’ actor, also spoke briefly about producing the film, ‘Girls will be Girls’, which had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, where it won an Audience Award. It is a film about a young woman’s burgeoning sexuality as she crosses from girlhood to womanhood at school.

In the same session, Kapoor recounted a shocking incident when she went to a meeting of top studios heads – they were all men and initially didn’t talk to her, huddled in a group separate to her. It was only when another woman turned up did they engage but only after the two women had started conversing.

“I was shocked and they knew who I was,” she lamented.

She agreed that while generally things had got better, many women were simply categorised as good girls and bad girls.

Aparna Purohit

And that other women sometimes also supported and abetted this judgement process, which did all woman no favours at all, she argued.

“Let us just be,” Kapoor declared. She said that making feature films with women leads was still tough.

Her view was echoed by Aradhana Bole, managing director of Fremantle India and another of the panellists, who added: “Let us unapologetically just be…”

Aparna Purohit, head of India and South East and Asia Originals, from Amazon Prime Video, said things were changing but perhaps not at the rate many women like – having been in the industry for more than 20 years now, she said.

Actors Karanvir Sharma and Dalljit Kaur
were morning hosts

Elsewhere there were sessions on ‘Transmedia Storytelling: Blurring Boundaries Across Films and Books’, with best selling author Amish Tripathi and former Nehru Centre in London director; filmmaker Abhishek Kapoor; Siddharth Kumar Tewary, founder and chief creative director Swastik Productions, and Saurabh Varma, a film director from Content Engineers.

At the inauguration, Anant Goenka, vice president Ficci and vice chairman of the RPG Group, Kevin Vaz, Ficci media and entertainment committee member and CEO of broadcast entertainment at Viacom18, both made opening addresses. As did Sanjay Jaju, secretary at the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting which looks after film, tv, media for the Indian government.

Sandhya Devanthan, vice president and head Meta India, Arjun Nohwar, senior vice president and general manager India and South Asia, Warner Bros. Discovery, Sushant Sreeram, country head Amazon Prime Video all participated in ‘Reinvent: Navigating the Future of Media and Entertainment Industry’.

Ernst and Young India also released its latest report at Ficci Frames yesterday, (see link below) estimated that the media and entertainment sector grew by eight per cent and was now 21 per cent above its pre pandemic levels. It reckoned the industry was worth just over US $27bn (£20bn). More here on this below (and the report to download).

EY Report –

See our visual wrap of Day (20 second Reel on Instagram)

More tomorrow on Day 2 (March 7) here tomorrow…(GMT)

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture