Five amazing women, five inspiring stories. For our New Year issue, we decided to get together the strongest (and coolest) women we know, to share their struggles. For these women, 2015 was about facing their fears. Like Swati Shetty. After having worked with big guns like Disney and Balaji Motion Pictures, she decided to take her shot and producer her first independent film, Umrika. One year later, we thought we'd ask how things were going, especially since the film was a big hit. And it got the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. Did I mention that?
"2015 Was the Year I Won the Sundance Audience Award"
"After one of the screenings, an elderly Mexican man held Prashant's hand [the director] and said, 'this is my story'. It was one of the most beautiful moments."
That's the kind of reaction producer Swati Shetty's film, Umrika, got around the world. It was selected in competition at the Sundance Film Festival, 2015, and also won the Audience Award.
"The selection itself surprised us. But the bigger surprise was the Audience Award. We were pitted against Nicole Kidman's Strangerland and Slow West, which stars Michael Fassbender, and so many other great films. So we really didn't expect much, and when we got the award, we were thrilled," says Swati. The producer hadn't always planned a career in the film biz. "I'm actually trained as a pharmacist. But I guess I was meant to be in films," Swati says.
After gaining a whirlwind of experience, including a very successful stint at Balaji Motion Pictures and Disney, Swati started her own production house—Samosa Stories—because she wanted to tell soulful stories. "Umrika was a great script and the director's vision was clear; that's really important for a producer," Swati says.
Now, in 2016, she wants to make more films. "I'm constantly reading scripts. I'd love to discover new voices and help interesting stories reach audiences."
Photograph: Sahil Behal; Styling: Zunaili Malik