Pannu who works in both Bollywood and the South Indian film industries, is known for her eclectic choice of roles including “Thappad,” for which won best actress at India’s prestigious Filmfare awards, “Badla” and “Mulk.”
Khandhdiya’s producer credits for Sony include “Piku,” “Poster Boys” and “Soorma,” in which Pannu was one of the leads. They also worked together on the upcoming “Rashmi Rocket,” co-produced by Ronnie Screwvala’s RSVP.
“I kind of identify myself as a very proud outsider from the Hindi film industry, who came from no background and somehow took years and made some space for myself,” Pannu tells Variety, explaining the rationale behind the company’s name. Once she achieved success as an actor Pannu began thinking about how she could give back to the industry whereby she could reduce the period of struggle for emerging talent to get a foothold.
Khandhdiya “felt right for me instantly, because I had worked with him, I knew his work ethics — I’ve known him for years now,” says Pannu. “I know that he will get me the kind of people I like to collaborate with, the kind of work I want to do and the kinds of things I like. So I wanted someone who will be aware of that and share that.”
“Rashmi Rocket” was a test case where Pannu was impressed by a one-line idea she’d heard during one of her South Indian film shoots and brought on Khandhdiya to put the film together.
In Outsiders Films, Khandhdiya will handle the on-the-ground aspects of production, while Pannu will deal with the creative side, including script selection, which she already has a strong sense of as an actor. The duo are equal partners in the company.
Outsiders Films will kick off with “Blur,” a thriller headlined by Pannu, to be directed by Ajay Bahl (“B.A. Pass,” “Section 375”), which starts shooting in the foothills of the Himalayas on July 18. There is another project, also headlined by Pannu, that is currently under wraps, which is scheduled for 2022 and two more films where the actor is not going to star in. There are also a couple of shows for streaming platforms for which negotiations are on.
“Basically, the kind of stuff I will be producing will be the kind of stuff that I have been a part of, that people know me for picking,” says Pannu. “So it won’t be like split personality, where I do a certain kind of films as an actor and then produce certain kinds of things as as a producer, they won’t be different entities, they’ll look very similar.”
Meanwhile, Pannu also has a raft of films coming up, including Sony Pictures’ official remake of “Run Lola Run” (“Looop Lapeta”), cricket biopic “Shabaash Mithu,” sports drama “Rashmi Rocket,” and “Woh Ladki Hai Kahaan?” and Anurag Kashyap’s time-travelling thriller “Dobaara.”
Pannu’s “Haseen Dillruba,” originally meant for theatrical release, debuted directly on Netflix earlier this month as Indian cinemas remain closed because of the pandemic.
“If I keep waiting for theaters to open, for all that pile up that’s going to happen not just from the industry point of view, my own filmography is going to be eating into each other’s space, which is going to be unfair to each film. So that’s one reason for me to opt for whatever is the best possible platform available right now,” says Pannu.
The actor describes her first direct to streaming release as an “interestingly good” experience, where Netflix pulled out all the stops to promote the film widely. In the absence of box office numbers the actor asked the streamer for viewership figures and was pleased with the results — in the week of release, “Haseen Dillruba” was trending in the top 10 in 22 countries, including Brazil and Argentina, winning her a new fan base.