Some women lead by sheer power. Charisma is their middle name, and commanding professional excellence, their forte, for themselves as well as those they work with. CineBlitz puts together a Power List of 10 hugely successful women from different aspects of the entertainment industry. They range from stars and actors, to filmmakers and corporate heads. Needless to say, the industry is strengthened by their contribution. These are women of strength and determination, and are unapologetically ambitious. The usual suspects Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, Kangana Ranaut, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Alia Bhatt are a part of our list. But who is the surprise package? Find out!
1. Ekta Kapoor
She is the TV Czarina who has made content for cinema just like she does for television. Ekta has one of the sharpest brains in the business and doesn’t like to take the conventional route. She started with horror films. But now she has several successful films like Dirty Picture and Veere Di Wedding. She is unafraid of backing the dark horse. And her business acumen is so keen, she invariably emerges the winner. Even as a young girl in the business, Ekta was instrumental in changing the face of Indian television.
Famed for her temper, Ekta expects nothing short of perfection from her staff. That’s the reason at any given point in time, Balaji Telefilms has a host of serials on air leading the TRP ratings. She has given middle-class housewives aspirational living on a platter. She has created trends from the characters and costumes in her soaps. Forward thinking, savvy and completely in love with work, Ekta parties equally hard. She is also the pioneer of young content, putting Alt Balaji way ahead of other contenders in India.
Ekta recently made the news when she had a child via surrogacy, cocking a snook at the ticking biological clock. She’s reigned over television for two decades and counting. In fact, she has probably snagged that spot till eternity. Ekta’s successes could fill the pages of a novelette. Defiant, that she is! Conformity is not a word in Ekta Kapoor’s dictionary.
2. Deepika Padukone
She is the reigning industry queen and the only Indian actor to be on the Time 100 Power List last year. She has crossed the heights of success, leaving her contemporaries far behind. She is also the highest paid actress in Hindi films currently. On her throne right now, Deepika is as versatile an actor as she is the classic Indian beauty. She fits into the Bollywood heroine mould effortlessly. But is yet capable of surprising you as the girl next- door, like she did in Piku. She can even stun you with her valour and grace as Padmavati and Mastani.
Respected, loved and sought after, Deepika is currently the envy of half the nation’s populace, since she married her love, Ranveer Singh. For all the superlatives defining her, Deepika Padukone remains grounded and natural. She does not wear two faces. Her very presence stirs one to a state of joy and happiness, such a blithe spirit is the lovely Deepika.
3. Alia Bhatt
No one would have thought that after doing Student Of The Year, she would carry off a Highway. Barely 26 now, Alia Bhatt has already racked in seven years of consistent success. Her impeccable career track record and the range of roles that she has portrayed are screaming proof of her outstanding talent. At a time when other kids were partying away, Alia was familiarising herself with the craft of acting. And for someone so young, she has a tremendous understanding of the craft.
Her assumption of characters arefar beyond her reality and maturity. In fact, the delivery of her roles is uncommonly insightful. Understandably, she has delivered one hit performance after another. While in her early years, Alia faced numerous blindsided detractors. She wisely chose to ignore them as she laughed her way to the bank. The little girl has blossomed into a woman of substance. Today, Alia Bhatt is a name every filmmaker worth his salt wants to work with.
4. Kangana Ranaut
She is an edgy actress who has never played a conventional heroine. She may be the controversy queen but has gone ahead and directed a film like Manikarnika. She has faced brickbats, and stood her ground, at the cost of alienating industry toadies. She was a gauche 18-year-old who set the screen ablaze from her performance in Anurag Basu’s Gangster. Her ascent up the ladder to success and fame was quite rapid since then. And it is all because of her raw passion. Her unpolished talent was soon buffed to a glossy sheen, with time spent learning the ways of the industry.
Along the years, Kangana steadily mapped a charted course, goal to goalpost. She broke many a hidebound convention and sculpted her career with a high degree of finesse. Unconventional in her choices, both personal and professional, the mercurial actress’ forte is intense psychological drama. She’s done wonderful work, whether in a Queen (which won her a National Award), a Tanu Weds Manu and its sequel, or a Manikarnika: The Queen Of Jhansi.
Today, Kangana is justifiably counted amongst the top three heroines in Bollywood. And her gutsy bets have reaped rich dividends professionally for her. She manages to be in the headlines primarily for her outspokenness. Though she has held herself distinctly apart from the rat-race, which she is not running. Her life choices (and her keen sartorial ones too) are an extension of her multi-dimensional moods and personality.
5. Zoya Akhtar
Zoya has changed the grammar of Hindi cinema with Gully Boy. Her deep understanding of the milieu she creates in her films is testament to her talent. She has given Bollywood a new face and new music that is completely original. Like cousin Farah Khan, she never fell into the trap of making women-centric cinema. A maverick who works at her own unhurried pace, Zoya is not racing towards expected goals. But when she does put out her work for judgement, you can be sure it touches a chord in our collective desi hearts. Today, Zoya Akhtar is a director that every actor wants to be cast by!
6. Priyanka Chopra
She is a global icon and India’s face in Hollywood. She may not have seen unlimited and unbroken success at the box office here, but Priyanka Chopra is definitely a commercial success in Hollywood. Like Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex And The City, her face adorns the surfaces of buses and hoardings in America. She has literally bridged the gap between the two industries with her marriage to singer Nick Jonas. With a carefully crafted career that straddles two continents, Priyanka wears her achievements with grace. She rubs shoulders with country heads, Prime Ministers and the who’s who of Hollywood. She is possibly one of the country’s best representatives in the way she carries herself at all times. In fact, she is an invaluable export that we should claim back in Bollywood.
7. Jyoti Deshpande
Jyoti is leading the charge to make Jio’s Studios the Numero Uno player in the content space. They want to lead not only in the Hindi content, but also in regional based movies and in digital shows. She took over as the President (Media and Entertainment Business) at Reliance Industries Ltd. in 2018. This, after six years served as Group Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Eros International Plc. There she spearheaded Eros’ growth as a global leader in Indian film entertainment.
She brings a wealth of two-and-a-half decades of experience in the media and entertainment world. It spans experience in advertising, television, media consulting, and films. Her leadership in Eros had her heading business strategy and operations. In the early millennium years, she was part of the senior management team that founded B4U Television Network. She is a regular speaker at industry forums. Jyoti is also a member of the British Film Institute. Her skill set is a coveted one and she is also on the board of 10 other companies, when she is not helping Reliance build its humungous profile in the entertainment space.
8. Simran Sethi
Simran is the most sought after executive for OTT. All the big Bollywood producers and directors are chasing her to green-light their shows on the international streaming platform. The former Freeform executive is based in L.A. and serves as creative executive for India. She is also a part of Netflix’s International Originals Production Group. Before Freeform, Simran held coveted posts at NBC, Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions and Sony Pictures Television. Currently, the Netflix bosses are making concerted efforts to align with top Bollywood talent. They want to break into the Indian market before their staunchest competitor, Amazon captures that space, as a giant step in global expansion. With the dynamic Simran at the helm, a great future is predicted.
9. Kareena Kapoor Khan
Mother, mate or marquee diva, she sashays through each role with the utmost panaché. When you want to define glamour, one automatically thinks Kareena. She’s the undisputed empress of style, sass and seduction. Kareena Kapoor Khan is a blue-blooded Bollywoodian. She is also probably the front-runner in carrying forward the glorious Kapoor legacy. You see, the Kapoor’s didn’t allow actresses in the family till Karisma entered films. And that paved way for Kareena’s eventful and illustrious trek onwards. The actress is truly a modern actress juggling several roles.
Bebo is not in a hurry to prove a point to the world. But if she is in a film, she unabashedly steals the show. She has inspired so many actresses including the current darling – Alia Bhatt. Kareena is not unaware of her inherent glamour. But she hasn’t exerted herself in exploring more of it! Who would’ve thought that as a radio jockey, she’d outperform the regular dudes at the job? Witty, blunt and open, Kareena’s inner goddess dances to many tunes. There’s no one that quite matches the wholesome package that is Kareena Kapoor Khan.
10. Reshma Shetty
She is the sole intellect that redefined Salman Khan’s career and gave it direction and dimension. Reshma Shetty took Salman’s talent, charisma, shenanigans and all, and sent him hurtling to the top of the Bollywood heroes brigade. And it is a position that still remains unshakeable, flop films notwithstanding. Currently, she is helping Akshay Kumar and Abhishek Bachchan steer their careers in making the right deals. She has consistently displayed the Midas touch in turning around the fortunes of actors that she backs. She is the queen of strategy.
As a Bollywood agent, Reshma’s mantra is simple, “Build the client’s trust, reputation, and wealth.” In fact, it works even in the face of the toughest of issues. Now who would want to deny that logic? More than half the top actors in Bollywood are managed by Reshma Shetty’s company Matrix. She puts them in the limelight and keeps them there. And she herself has consistently made it to power lists down the years. Considering a large part of her job involves keeping her clients in the media spotlight, strangely she’s known to be camera-shy and media-averse.
Well, these were our picks of the most powerful women in the Entertainment space. But who is the most powerful woman according to you? Share with us your thoughts in the comments section below! In the meantime, here’s wishing every lady out there a very Happy Women’s Day. Also stay tuned to CineBlitz for more news and updates from the world of Bollywood.