Born and raised in India, Anju Purushot grew up in a family of filmmakers, knowing it was her destiny to one day do the same. As a celebrated producer, she has worked on many award-winning films and commercial campaigns for major companies like Du, Mars, PepsiCo, and more.
We had a chance to sit down and talk with this talented producer about her incredible journey, success, and what it takes to make it in such a competitive industry. Here’s what she had to say.
FLV: Can you tell us a bit about the projects you’ve done?
AP: I have been very fortunate to work on projects from different genres, whether its feature films, short films, long format content, commercials or activations. Each of them is a chance to give a fresh take, bring new energy to, and shape into a piece of work that everyone would be proud to have on their portfolio.
Going way back to my first film Kalpitham, a horror that went on to do well in regional and international film festivals. This was instrumental in launching my career forward as I gained a lot of confidence in my work through its achievements, paving way to my first gig as an assistant director on an Indian-American production, Achchamundu! Achchamundu!. I realized while shooting that what I loved most was being involved on the production side of things. Soon after I moved to Dubai, where I’ve been working and producing content over the last 12 years. I have more than 60 pieces of work that I have produced so far - across multiple brands, shot worldwide and received international acclaim.
I then moved to BBDO, where I again got the chance to produce content for the most talked about brands internationally - Emirates to KFC, Mars Wrigley, Pepsico, Google, Visa being a few to name.
During my stint at BBDO, I was in charge of developing the in-house content division, for which I took on the responsibility of putting together the vision, workflow and structure. We produced some great content for our clients including online films for Visa which won a D&AD pencil. Over the last year, I’ve consulted on productions for Coca-Cola and Mars Wrigley for the region, being able to bring perspective and be a liaison between client and agency on their productions regionally as well as producing more work with clients such as Expo Dubai, Lays, and Volkswagen.
FLV: How would you describe your style of producing?
AP: Very hands on! I do insist on getting involved from the very beginning - and it is solely to help step aside from potential red flags before we kick start a process. We are all creative partners with the same goal so having everyone be on board from day one I believe is really key to any successful project.
I also make sure to see a project through to the end - unless I have scheduling conflicts you will always see me at the edit, sending meticulous feedback, working hand in hand with the online artist to make sure the final picture that goes out is something I am absolutely happy with. Same goes for being involved with the prep before we are on ground shooting. I also make sure to build a rapport with the director and key crew before we start shooting - good vibes on set makes it so much more fun for everyone. It is always important to find the right rhythm with everyone involved.
Another factor that I do focus on is training my junior teams - I had the best mentors who took the time during my early years to help me cement my style of producing and at any opportunity I make sure to bring my team on board and have them take on responsibilities where I can help them finesse their skills and become great producers / filmmakers down the line.
FLV: Who have you worked with that has inspired you?
AP: My work ethic was inspired early on by my parents. My mother was a producer herself and my father a DOP - so all my childhood was spent growing up on film sets and when I was a bit older - shadowing their shoot schedules. Observing them taught me my first lessons in hard work and diligence - to this day I have not seen two people who are so committed to the art of filmmaking and that for me was the best front row seat to learning about film. I also had the privilege of having great mentors in both film and advertising - especially strong female role models who have helped shape me into a much better producer and person. This also inspired me to put my best foot forward - and I hope I can be the same inspiration to people around me.
Also, with every project, I keep my mind open as your motivation can come from anywhere. Having produced work across Europe, America, The United Kingdom, South Africa, Asia, and more, I’ve had the opportunity to work with the finest teams, picking up great perspectives on how people across the globe approach any production. This is why I love and enjoy this collaborative process as it keeps me learning and engaged every day.
FLV: What would you consider the highlight of your career?
AP: One of the highlights, I would have to say, was winning the regions first ever Cannes film gold. Even when we were working on the (Du Tuesdays) project, I always knew this project had ambition and legs to travel far but the validation that came with being recognized worldwide was incredible.
This really goes to all of the awards I have gathered over the last 13 years - across Cannes, Lynx, CLios, One Show, D&AD, Loeires, etc – each of them honored the effort and dedication I put in to the content and I am grateful to have that recognition.
I’ve been lucky enough to have worked all over the world, for so many brands over the years - and now when I look back and recall all of the great memories producing the work and all of the great pieces in my portfolio - I know my consistent dedication has really paid off. And to know all of this work is still fresh in the memory of the audience - the other day at a dinner someone outside of the industry recalled the Du Tuesdays films saying it was such great content - for someone to still recall it after a few years is euphoric and that is the kind of impression I’d like to leave my name on.
FLV: What advice would you give to those looking to pursue a career in producing/filmmaking?
AP: Filmmaking really is about passion. You need to be ready to put in the hours and really give it your all to be able to produce great pieces of work. I always recommend that one should hit the ground running - get your hands dirty and be conscientious. Take on as much as you can - because the more you invest into your work, the more you gain experience. And when you are in the thick of a job with so many things to take care of, it becomes second nature to problem solve and plan your way forward. And be diligent - you need to make sure you cover all bases no matter how big or small the scope of the project is.
One key thing to remember is - pause, step back and breathe. When you are deep in the thicket you often forget to review the big picture - so its always important to take that time to slow down and process - this will help you reassess and strategize your next steps making this an efficient practice.
Lastly be organized. Being a producer, I cannot stress how important this is - especially when you will be working on a few projects simultaneously. If you are going to be the anchor to get things through the finish line, then you best be well prepared and planned before you step into the ring.
FLV: What are your plans for the future?
AP: The near future will see me write and produce my own web series - which is now in progress so hoping to have this in the pipeline within the next year. Also, I am trying to pick and focus more on films - this has always been my first love. Now that cinema has grown into a great amalgamation between traditional filmmaking and new school of thought - I’m really excited to take on more projects in that direction and explore new possibilities. Also, I hope to be able to give back to the community by taking on some film and production workshops – it’s always important to me to pass it on and I really look forward to developing more on that in the course of my career.