(From left) Shehnaaz Gill, Kusha Kapila, Bhumi Pednekar, Shibani Bedi and Dolly Singh star in the film
What's the point of making movies as a female producer in this industry if you can't pull off the impossible," asks Rhea Kapoor. She is referring to going against the flow and making chick flicks in an industry that is quick to label them frivolous. But her next, Thank You for Coming, addresses a pertinent subject - the Bhumi Pednekar-starrer tells the story of a woman who has never experienced an orgasm. She elaborates, "People think that female-led rom-coms are frivolous and meaningless. Rom-coms are hard to crack because the genre is constantly reinventing itself. I've grown up with this genre, but all my references were American. Why can't we give young girls Indian references?"
It wasn't easy for Rhea and co-producer Ektaa Kapoor to get the movie - also starring Kusha Kapila, Shehnaaz Gill, Dolly Singh and Shibani Bedi - off the ground. Their faith was rewarded as Karan Boolani's directorial venture premiÃ¨red at the recent Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). "When we make such movies, we are told, âOh, this is floozy.' But this film went to TIFF, and it's so validating. Such movies are hard to get off the ground. I have privilege; my father [Anil Kapoor] is a powerful man. I started making movies when I was 21, I am 36 today, and this is my fourth film. So, you do the math!"
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Barbie's mammoth success has taught the filmmaking world that movies can't be designed only for the male half of the population. It's a lesson Rhea knew early on, which made her back Aisha (2010), Khoobsurat (2014), and team up with Ektaa on Veere Di Wedding (2018). Together, they want to change the perception of women-led cinema. "Taylor Swift is affecting economies, BeyoncÃ© is a star. I've always been confident about chick flicks. Ektaa's mom [Shobha Kapoor] loved Veere Di Wedding. When Sex and the City returned [as a movie], we queued up to watch it. I know I have a tribe and people are ignorant to dismiss that audience," she states, before adding, "My biggest fear is women's stories being seen as valid only if they are sacrificial. No one calls action films, where men have guns and shiny cars, frivolous. But [the idea of] a woman in gorgeous clothes and having a good time is rubbished. On the contrary, it needs to be celebrated."