Meet the most powerful young women in Bollywood
Next stop: global domination
Tanvi Gandhi, 36, Executive producer
Scene 1: “We were all standing there, hoping against hope we don’t get called in.” Gandhi recalls getting the pink slip from MTV, where she worked for five years on shows like Housefull and MTV Style Awards. This marked the turning point that delivered her to a film set, specifically that of Pankaj Kapoor’s Mausam. Since then, she’s found her metier, travelling furiously to produce Queen, Bombay Velvet, Raman Raghav 2.0 and Udta Punjab.
Coming soon: “Phantom is about to change the way we look at horror films in India,” says Gandhi, who is working on the banner’s first scary movie, Ghoul, starring indie-fave Radhika Apte.
Seher Latif, 34, Casting director
Scene 1: Latif conducted her first audition for an ad film house holding a VHS camera on her shoulder. When she went pro, though, this talented casting director’s resume started to light up with Eat, Pray, Love, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Lunchbox and Zero Dark Thirty.
Coming soon: She turns producer with her own company Mutant Films. It’s a packed schedule on the casting front too, with Gurinder Chadha’s Viceroy’s House; The Field starring Brendan Fraser; Netflix series Sense8 by the Wachowskis (“their stories are not plots, they are ideas about the world and humanity”) and Brit TV show The Good Karma Hospital.
Shruti Kapoor, 25, Costume designer
Scene 1: This fashion grad started by styling contestants on Kaun Banega Crorepati, so she knows a thing or two about keeping it real. But her first solo outing came with Kashyap’s short, That Day After Everyday. With Masaan and then Raman Raghav 2.0, Kapoor honed her skill for bringing a dose of realness to filmi wardrobes.
Coming soon: Kapoor is working on Phantom’s Ghoul. She’s equally excited about Vikramaditya Motwane’s as-yet-unnamed project, and says, “I like how he wants us to build our own backstories for the characters.”
Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, 37, Director
Scene 1: Iyer was Executive Creative Director at Leo Burnett when her short film, What’s For Breakfast, won a special mention at the Dadasaheb Phalke Awards in 2013. She left advertising then to write and direct Nil Battey Sannata, a dramedy starring Swara Bhaskar. As a debutant, she’s had to work around the industry’s culture of “intense male bonding”. Despite that, she’s just wrapped Amma Kannaku, the Tamil remake of Nil Battey..., produced by Dhanush.
Coming soon: She has Ayushmann Khurrana and Bhumi Pednekar-starrer, Manmarziyaan. “I’ve always loved Sai Paranjpe for making everyday stories iconic.” It’s the kind of magic Iyer aspires to as well.
Atika Chohan, 36, Writer
Scene 1: Chohan was a “reluctant journalist” at CNN-IBN till she quit to study at FTII Pune. A string of low-paying script reading/writing gigs followed, until Margarita With A Straw came along and helped her find her voice. Her next, Waiting, starring Naseeruddin Shah, Rajat Kapoor and Kalki Koechlin, made for “electrifying conversations” in the reading room.
Coming soon: Kanu Behl’s (of Titli fame) Agra, as Chohan describes it, is “a love story set around sanity and space.” She’s also working with Drishyam Films on an intriguing story about a young girl’s first period.