Check out our latest interaction with Film Producer, Ashi Dua as she talks about her first break, her successful projects, her affinity for anthologies, and lots more.

The business of enertainment is no joke and creating riveting cinema that brings to life stories and characters that stay with the audiences is most certainly not an easy feat. And that’s exactly why we tip our hats to Film Producer, Ashi Dua, who has been consistently bringing to the audience, stories that are applause-worthy and constantly evolving with the sensibilities of the audience.

Film Producer and Founder of Flying Unicorn Entertainment, Ashi Dua’s fourth Anthology Paava Kadhaigal was released on Netflix in December 2020. We spoke to her, to understand what it is to be an Anthology queen with so many successes in her kitty. From establishing Flying Unicorn to her upcoming projects, Ashi Dua shared her experience of coming from Bareily and making a space for herself in Mumbai. 

Here are some excerpts from our interaction with the Emmy-Nominated and celebrated Producer, Ashi Dua…

What made you establish Flying Unicorn Entertainment? What is the story behind the name?

Honestly, what made me establish it is that I was doing an internship with a company and I just wanted to do something on my own, I realized that I work better on my own, I do not want to work in a job scenario. And that’s when I started flying unicorn entertainment. It was really hard to be 22 and just start your company so randomly, but we started the company and then we figured out how we’re going to get business in the company. It was me and another partner of mine Alia Rasheed, we started the company together. And in three years from then, she had to move out of Bombay. So then, I was it was just me but when we started the company, it was Alia and me.”

How has your journey been as an entrepreneur and a film producer? What keeps you going?

“My journey has been very exciting. As an entrepreneur and a film producer, of course, we’ve had our share of lows, with sometimes things not working out. And in the beginning, not knowing which direction we were heading, and all of that. But from coming from nowhere and not knowing anybody in the film industry to be to have made now five films, I think the journey has been quite gratifying. I have a long way to go. But it’s challenging every day is challenging. Even now, after making the five films, the sixth film is challenging, and it continues to be so but I guess that’s the whole thrill of being here, too. Every time you start, you’re starting from scratch. And that’s the beauty of working in the movies.”

Ashi Dua

What was your first break that paved way for everything else?

“So, the first break was for me was working with Anurag Kashyap on Dev.D.  That paved the way for me. He made me realize that I had the potential to be a good producer that I could put all projects together so I could do this very well. That’s where I realized what my true potential could be.”

What does a busy day look like for you?

“A busy day for me is sometimes really busy… no time for breakfast. Now that I have a baby it’s harder than before… there is multitasking. So, a busy day is managing the two – work and baby. Also, managing his morning routine and then rushing to work. Ensuring everything is done on time so I can be back home before he goes to sleep. So a busy day for me is usually balancing work and home.

Your first anthology film Bombay Talkies, an ode to 100 years of Indian cinema made it to Cannes Film Festival. Did you expect the amount of love and success you received?

“No, actually, we did not expect the love and success we got for Bombay Talkies. It premiered at the Cannes film festival. It was the 100th year of Indian cinema and Cannes was doing a special on 100 years of Indian cinema so they selected our film and we got to walk the red carpet and it was very exciting. The reviews we received for it back home were also great. At that point, the short format was new and it was the first anthology in Indian cinema. I am grateful for all the love we received.

Ashi Dua

It is safe to call you Anthology Queen, with so many in your kitty. What is your idea of a perfect anthology? What is one thing you look for in each story?

“You know, people keep joking that do you have an app? That you keep making short films under that app. No, I never planned this way, we made Bombay Talkies, then Lust Stories happened, Ghost Stories and now we have the Netflix Tamil Anthology Paava Kadhaigal and very soon we will have a Telegu anthology. So, it organically happened. I never planned, I just started with Bombay Talkies. The one thing I look forward to in each story is a different take on the same subject. Even when I try to get four directors together, I try to take different filmmakers like you must have realized Karan is different from Anurag who is different Dibakar and Zoya. So, I try to get different views on the same subject.”

Do you think OTT platforms like Netflix receive such movies better than main-stream cinema?

“Absolutely. Anthologies definitely have been more well-received on OTT platforms like Netflix as opposed to theatrical release. Because we are talking directly to our target audience. People with sensibilities for cinema-like that and we want to reach out to. So it does better on OTT.

Now you’ve made the Tamil Anthology – Paava Kadhaigal, what made you move gears towards south-Indian cinema?

“Yes, Paava Kathaigal was received very well. We are very happy. Actually, for me, cinema is not just Hindi, it’s Tamil, Telegu, Malayalam. Even when I made Bombay Talkies, I wanted to make it in Tamil-Telegu. But at that time there were no OTT platforms and theatrically it was difficult to raise money. But when I had the opportunity, Netflix supported it and we made this anthology and it did very well. So, I would like to make Tamil, Telegu, Malayalam and even Punjabi. Let’s see, hopefully in the future.”

Ashi Dua

Where do you draw inspiration from?

“I draw my inspiration from so many people world over. I like reading autobiographies and watching documentaries, knowing about people who started from scratch and went on to become the people they have. My inspiration comes even from a homemaker. We are lucky that w have help but there are women who do all the cooking by themselves and then work and also take care of their child so I draw inspiration from them also.”

One person you always look up to in the industry?

“The person I look up to in the industry is, Priyanka Chopra. We’re both from Bareilly and I remember when she became miss India, I was still in school and it was a big moment for me to see her win. Also, as of last year when we were in New York for Lust stories at Emmys, I was walking on the streets and I saw her hoardings all over new york. I felt so proud of her and how she has paved her way in the industry and continues to do so.”

A promise you would like to make to 50-year-old Ashi Dua?

“A promise to myself as a 50-year-old would be to spread kindness and I hope I would be in a position by then or sooner to just to be able to help as many people can professionally or personally because the world needs it.”

Ashi Dua

 A genre you are keen on exploring?

“A genre I’m really keen on exploring is a human family drama.”

A Director you are looking forward to working with?

“A Director I’m looking forward to working with is Ashwini Iyer Tiwari. I am also exploring something with her. I am also looking forward to working with Amit Sharma. There are actually many people I’m looking forward to working with.”

Thanks to all her previous endeavours, we’re certainly excited to see what the talented Producer, Ashi Dua, has in store for cinema lovers!

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