Not many female actors jump on the production bandwagon when they have a thriving acting career. Kannada actor Parul Yadav is co-producing not just one but four films at the same time. The actor is one of the producers on board for the Queen remake in all the four south-Indian languages. On Women’s Day, Parul talks about breaking stereotypes in a male-dominated industry.
Not many female actors step into production. What drove you to take the plunge?
When I saw Queen in the theatres, I honestly felt bad that I wasn’t getting such scripts. It was later that the idea of a remake came up. Being reasonably well-known here, I called up a few people in the Kannada industry about it. Several self-proclaimed advisors warned me heavily to not do it. They said that no major star would want to work with me if I did the film. But I didn’t pay heed to it. I decided to act in the film and also co-produce the film.
A lot of people did ask me why I turned producer at an early stage in my career. The perception is that you become a producer when you don’t have anything else to do. But, I am acting in films as well. There is a certain cinema that I love and when people don’t make it, we might as well do it ourselves. Like Anushka Sharma inspired me, I hope the venture works and brings more women into making cinema.
What are some of the changes you would like to see?
I feel Kannada industry could make a lot more women-oriented subjects and it was very important for me to do this. I also realised that we women are happy to play the second fiddle to the hero. When we approached several stars to play Rajkummar’s role, they refused to do so and we decided to go with a newcomer called Varun. I would like for things to change — when we happily play supporting roles, why can’t heroes do the same once in a while? Allu Arjun played a supporting role with Anushka Shetty in Telugu. It would be amazing to see the same in Kannada where men say ‘I want to support a woman-centric film.’
What can be done to bring more women into cinema in non-acting capacities?
It is true that there are fewer women. When I watched Lady Bird, I did wonder why young women aren’t directing films here. But it won’t take long. In just three or four years, the scene will change. Take my example, I don’t think there is another actor who is producing her film in Kannada in the recent past. The newer generations are more forthcoming and they don’t heed stereotypes.
Tell us about some of the women whom you have been inspired by? Both film and non-film?
I wouldn’t say there is just one woman who inspired me. There are several women from different walks of life who have inspired me. To name a few, Indira Nooyi, the CEO of Pepsi Co, the Prime Minister of United Kingdom Theresa May or ICICI’s Chanda Kochchar — it is a source of inspiration that these women have made it in areas which are generally perceived as male-dominated sectors. There is also a lot to learn from people closer home like my domestic help who fights to support her family or my mother who fought cancer and a relapse with so much positivity to live happily and heartily. There is inspiration from several quarters.
In the film industry, even though I don’t agree with all her opinions, Kangana Ranaut inspires me. In fact, she should be a source of motivation for all newcomers. As someone with no film background, her journey to become a bankable star at the box office is incredible. With no disrespect to anyone, I don’t think anyone else has been able to achieve this without working with any of the male superstars. Another actress I really admire is Vidya Balan who broke another stereotype that women don’t need to conform to a particular type of appearance to be in demand.