She’s hip and she’s sassy, she’s unassuming and she’s nonchalant. When asked about the staggering figure of 18.1 thousand that organically follows her Instagram handle, the fashionista casually dismisses it as social media fun coupled with sheer chance. A freelance associate producer and event manager based in India’s Maximum City, Vedika Rana is living life one dream at a time. This fall, Rajputana Collective rises to the opportunity of featuring the upcoming creative entrepreneur vis-a-vis her breakthrough into the Indian entertainment industry, notions of professionalism, merit, and the status of women therein.
Back in 2010, a young and aspiring Vedika had descended into Maximum City as an undergraduate student of Mass Communications at Sophia College. Like most young aspirants that enter the pulsating beat of Mumbai, Vedika’s story was no less devoid of struggle and perseverance in competing measures. She formally launched her career shortly after college as an assistant director, and soon enough found her calling in the art of production. Alongside her professional refinement as a freelance producer, Vedika’s socially hospitable personality and suaveness paved her way towards event management and brand promotion. In short, the full-time filmmaker and part-time model-cum-event manager comprehensively juggles her passions and fortes to make the most of a life that she leads purely on her terms.
While professional ascends like Vedika’s might not be rare occurrences in the scintillating pulse of Mumbai, her journey hints at the determining power held by a person’s outlook in the individual framing of one’s destiny and the perusal thereof. In other words, she doesn’t spend too much time romanticising her struggles and instead, places a strong emphasis on the importance of pragmatism, networking skills and capitalising on one’s existing resources.
Speaking of the latter, she attributes much of her gratitude towards her family from which she has derived immense support and encouragement to follow her dreams. Maintaining a similar win-win outlook towards her work, Vedika describes her professional insight in her own words, “I had to go through a considerable number of jobs before arriving at where I am today. Yes, production is difficult and work often gets really tasking and time-consuming. Events too, can really take you over the edge if they don’t turn out great. You don’t always look your best in front of the camera but it is nonetheless exciting and worth it.”
While describing her notions of professionalism, Vedika makes no qualms about taking a pragmatic approach towards one’s workplace and colleagues. The granddaughter of
a regional films’ producer Shri Bharat SJB Rana, Vedika swiftly disperses the compulsion to bask under professional elitism and makes an explicit choice that entails meritocracy and a growth-oriented work ethic. She elaborates, “people tend to get fascinated by my ancestral lineage and my grandfather’s creative output in the industry but I feel that in today’s day and age it doesn’t matter where you come from or what your name is, but more of who you are as a person and how you treat others. Before coming to Mumbai, I was a different person. Getting out in the real world really broke me down in the best way possible and I’m grateful for that. One of the things that I learned here was that at the end of the day, we are nothing but mere specks in this universe and remembering our humble origins makes life so much easier and simpler.”
Through the past five years, her level-headedness at work and outside have brought Vedika some interesting projects and events to focus on. And yet, when asked about her most memorable shoots, she nostalgically reminisces her Lakme shoot as an 18-year-old, simply because a first is always special for being a first. The frequent juxtaposition that Vedika executes being behind and in front of the camera has helped enable her to perceive the entertainment industry from two essential standpoints that are mutually exclusive for most people- that of a crew member as well as a model. “Being a girl, I feel people don’t take you seriously in the industry. Half of them think you’re working behind the camera to eventually come in front of it, not realising that in my case, acting was never really an incentive because I believed to lack any potential to act. So, it took me a while but I got there” Vedika states.
Hence, more often than not, one’s creative mettle does suffer the conventional burden of stereotypes associated with being a part-time model, but personal determination trumps speculation for the 26-year-old freelancer, and rightfully so.
Being on either side of the film reel also enables Vedika to cultivate a more nuanced view into the rampant sexism that has consistently plagued the entertainment industry through its various eras. She admits to the continuing trends of objectification of women that continue to linger despite female actors getting more equitable roles vis-a-vis their male counterparts. According to Vedika, much of the problem of gender-based discrimination arises from the generalised tendency to value looks over acting talent. Vedika advances her point by saying, “despite changing times, the entertainment industry has a long way ahead of it in terms of gender equity. Sadly, a lot of actresses are in the industry more for their looks than their acting which eventually leads them to be just a pretty face in the film rather than a powerful actor”. Her views stand supplemented by several critics of Indian cinema, who have timelessly postulated the blatant sexism that accompanies gender-based roles wherein a female lead of lesser acting expertise is traditionally cast alongside a more competent male actor simply because the former is expected to supplement the latter with fine aesthetics and a bare-minimum of acting.
An effective remedy to this media-based chauvinism lies in diversifying every sector of the entertainment industry, such that an increasing number of women can reclaim roles and spaces that have thus far been dominated by stereotypes and generalisations to their lesser advantage. By occupying the dual roles of production as well as modelling, Vedika seems to be inadvertently reclaiming empowering spaces in her own right, and Rajputana Collective wishes her every success in her endeavours.