Ritu Pande is a filmmaker based in New York City. She hails from Bihar, India, where her rebellious nature put the sexist cultural norms of her environment into stark focus. Her unconventional experiences as a social activist, military cadet, as well as a finalist in Miss India contest, enabled her to explore various facets of feminism, female and human identity. She left her burgeoning acting career in Mumbai to pursue acting and filmmaking in New York, studying under veterans such as Austin Pendelton, Anthony Abeson, and Terry Schreiber. Ironically, rather than finding freedom in New York to explore her passions, Ritu found herself more pigeonholed as a minority woman.
Energized by this challenge, and struck by the extent of dilution that plagues foreign perspectives, Ritu founded Durga Entertainment in 2009 through which she has acted and produced films that transcend the industry stereotypes in favor of more complex and universal stories, especially about women. As an actor, producer and writer, it is her personal sense of identity, shrouded in the paradox of race and gender identity crisis that the Western cultures pose particularly upon women of color is what inspires Ritu’s filmmaking drive: to reveal the truth behind the complex humanity and to upend cultural norms with which many are ensconced in.