Beauty with a business brain

The story before “Ask Mummy”, was a phrase often parroted by several yesteryear Bollywood actresses, about every possible decision related to their lives – be it professional or personal. Chaperoned by their mothers and bands of family members, these actresses were perhaps the lead characters only on-screen — off-screen, their lives, careers and finances were all dictated by their family members, who left them little to no say in these matters. Actresses from Meena Kumari to Madhubala, Sarika to Khushbu, took on the burden of being breadwinners for their families. The studio became their playground, school books were traded for scripts, they didn’t know a world beyond the glare of the spotlight. Zeenat Aman has gone on record to say that she didn’t know a life beyond the studio and home, and her mother kept a strict watch on her activities, leaving little room to enjoy herself. Mothers, and even fathers, as in the case of Madhubala, not only controlled the daughters’ finances but came in the way of the actresses’ personal lives, driven by the fear of the proverbial golden goose flying the nest. One can’t help but feel sorry for these popular matinee stars of the past. Parental disciplining often masked greed, and real life in many cases played out like a reel, with family rifts becoming public fodder. Take the case of Sarika. She started as a child artiste, and her mother had complete control over her life, including finances. As per sources, Sarika was even denied access to money till, in 1982, she walked out of her home. She remained estranged from her mother, who even disinherited her from the property she had bought with the money the actress had earned. Sridevi and her sister Sri Latha didn’t speak to each other for two decades over a property dispute, until the late actress’s husband Boney Kapoor intervened to resolve the issue. One of the most startling such cases came to light when Kal Ho Na Ho actress Ameesha Patel took her father Amit and brother Ashmit to court in 2004 for squandering all her earnings on failed investments. She sued her family for `12 crores, and the rift in the Patel home made national headlines. The actress said the money belonged to her and that her family had betrayed her trust. It took her five years to sort out the issue. An industry insider says, “Very often, these heroines were seen as cash cows and also as means of fulfilling their parents’ unrealised dreams. Some rebelled, and had love affairs. In some cases, they even married men who were older, to find the anchors which their parents never were.” Actresses today control their money “The purse strings are now controlled by different folks. Back in the day, it was mom, dad or a savvy uncle. Today it is a manager hired by the actresses, someone who is most often a financial whiz, and investment decisions are taken by them. They take advantage of cutting edge opportunities, including start-ups and production houses” — Harish Bijoor, brand strategist Priyanka Chopra, who is known for her shrewd entrepreneurial investments, has a production company amongst her many business assets. She launched Purple Pebble Pictures in 2015 to support small-budget films and indie filmmakers. She expanded her portfolio by launching a haircare brand, a restaurant, and a home-wear brand and also has shares in several businesses, including Bumble, the dating app. Priyanka’s greatest achievement is not extending the length of her career but staying relevant for so long. The secret to that is the way she has managed ‘Brand Priyanka’, which itself can be a case study, say brand strategists. Priyanka has a production company, Purple Pebble Pictures, she expanded her portfolio by launching a haircare brand, a restaurant, and a home-wear brand and also has shares in several businesses, including Bumble, the dating app Deepika Padukone not only laid the foundation for mental health awareness, but invested in healthy foods, started a beauty brand and launched Ka Productions in 2018. Her reasoning is clear — “It puts you in an empowering place creatively. As an actor, your contribution is limited to a film, but the involvement as a producer is bigger.” Deepika Padukone not only laid the foundation for mental health awareness, but invested in healthy foods, started a beauty brand and launched Ka Productions in 2018. Her reasoning is clear — “It puts you in an empowering place creatively. As an actor, your contribution is limited to a film, but the involvement as a producer is bigger.” Katrina Kaif started Kay Beauty, a cosmetics brand, and Shraddha Kapoor invested in the beauty and cosmetics brand, MyGlamm, as well as a luxury furnishings brand and a healthcare brand. The latest actress to enter the business arena is Kriti Sanon, who launched a production company as well as a beauty brand. Actresses are way more worldly-wise now, and know how to navigate money matters. This stems from changes in the ecosystem. From Kareena to Kangana, they all have the final say on their finances, and also have creative control. They may be leading lights in the world of entertainment but also have great insights into money matters, and are calling the shots.” — Joginder Tuteja, Film critic Now, the tide has turned Current actresses are far more astute when it comes to managing their finances. Though Alia Bhatt has said she had handed over her first pay cheque to mom Soni Razdan because “she can handle my finances better,” she now has a team of advisers helping her manage her monetary assets. The actress has invested in several start-ups, launched a clothing line and even set up a production company called Eternal Sunshine in 2020, and made her debut as producer with the superhit Darlings. She said turning producer was just an extension of her creative personality. Brand strategists compare her business acumen to that of Virat Kohli. Alia is only one of the many enterprising actresses who have been clever about investing their earnings. Alia bhatt has invested in several start-ups, launched a clothing line and even set up a production company called Eternal Sunshine in 2020, and made her debut as producer with the superhit Darlings



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