Mayuri is a young production Coordinator and Manager in television and film who has risen quickly through the ranks. Her impressive array of projects over six short years include Shesh Theke Shuru with the biggest star in Bengoli Film, Bollywood’s Baar Baar Dekho, Amazon Prime’s TV series, The Family Man 2, and Patients of a Saint, English horror film which “laid the foundation” for Mayuri’s career as it is today. “After being a production co-ordinator for this, I was asked to reprise that same role for my first big Bollywood film: Judgemental Hai kya. I was handling whole projects, from organising cars, cameras, equipment, general transportation, hospitality and the locations to effectively running a large crew. I continued to do very well.”
During the time of Covid-19, Mayuri has also been part of the first film set to successfully wrap production without anyone on the team testing positive for the ubiquitous virus. Working as a production co-ordinator for the new Bollywood film, Bell Bottom which was shot in scenic Scotland, the hardworking professional elaborated: “we hired out an entire hotel for the cast & crew throughout the filming to keep everyone especially protected. There were over 100 individuals involved in this movie. The team that came across from India were tested immediately, and their temperatures regularly checked. Everyone behind the cameras wore face masks and food was ordered in by the crew for the duration. Every bit of equipment was also sanitised before use.” Setting a stellar example for wider society, such extra costly precaution comes despite the film business being one of the sectors to be the hardest hit.
However, here Mayuri went on to emphasise the importance of emotional intelligence alongside the practical smarts in skilful production. As well as being adept at budgeting and administration, she commented that “one must know how to work well with other people. Being honest, speaking well, and appreciating those around you is fundamental. You should never treat someone differently just because of their status. I have financed people on my team when they needed it, promoting a fair dynamic of give and take. You need to be gracious and be good at compromise – both when arranging the production and building a relationship with the crew. There are so many horror stories of people getting scammed and shamelessly exploited.” Indeed, many starting out in the field do not get paid and rely on the reasonable exchange of favours as ‘payment in kind’ to earn their way. “Actually, it is better to work with the same people in the industry as filming can be complex and it is easier to rehire familiar, experienced talent for smoother process overall. Having a good work ethic and being attuned to various different problems, from the needs of the team to the many demands of that particular film make the best productions. I am always on the go, responding to queries about hiring and catering, the needs of actors, and everything requiring management.”
Currently working on the upcoming Netflix series, Matilda, Mayuri finally shared her favourite type of projects, having worked extensively behind the scenes. “I love stories where you can relate to the main character, and empathise with them.” According to the soon-to-be producer, the imaginary or elaborate world of fiction is not the only mode for achieving this: “good documentaries can help you inhabit another’s mindset just as well. In fact, one of my goals for the future is to be able to write and actually produce my own film, looking into the underrepresented world of newly married Indian brides. I’d like to be able to portray their struggle e.g. moving in immediately with the husband, having to say goodbye to family and the pressure of having children. There is so much expectation and a little or no channel to be able to express that distress. So often women are judged for even feeling a conflict. It would be great to help to something about that.” And so, the medium of art itself a powerful reality, Mayuri demonstrates how good production reflects the formula for thriving at life: adapting, keeping focussed and communicative, and being able to deliver no matter what.
You started out by wanting to be an actress. Tell us a bit more on that?
I actually have a BTECH in the performing arts and started out in dance. After joining Shiamak Davar’s Dance School, I was selected to be part of their Advance group where I was training to be a professional and perform on stage. This included dancing behind Bollywood Actors such as Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma for Hero Honda held in O2 Arena. I also appeared as a background artist for Bollywood Films, such as Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal and Veer to get experience of how films are made. However, eventually I turned to the world of production as this was a more realistic goal. I also have training in accounting which has served me in this field.
What grabs you emotionally about the world of production?
You get to know everybody and everything around a particular film: you are the core of the project. Another aspect is being able to be constantly active from the time I wake up to when I go to sleep. As you’re completing a project, you don’t necessarily know what is going on in the outer world of the movie, entirely immersed in its inner workings. Every day you will learn something new, from financing to the exclusive insights being shared within the industry. There are so many variables. You learn both what and what not to do. It’s very complete.
Finally, what have been some highlight moments?
Firstly, I think meeting famous people and being able to work closely with them. You don’t forget meeting Kareena Kapoor! I’ve also had the pleasure of knowing Irfan Khan. Being on the set of Akshay Kumar’s Bell Bottom recently was a dream come true. Secondly, being able to grow so much after having been challenged. Working in big production can be overwhelming. You need to learn how to negotiate and yourself socially and manage relationships that can be very intimidating. Especially as a young person who is starting out.