Ekta Kapoor has a magic wand. She can not only change the way we look at Indian television, but even make the careers of dozens of actors who go on to become the biggest names in the industry. She isn’t called the Queen of Television for nothing. Her aura and strong personality only proves why she is proud of making the ‘saas-bahu’ sagas, bringing Naagins on the small screen, exploring subjects like reincarnation, and changing the way Indian families look at television. Ekta has been in the business for more than two decades. And over time, did she ever feel that television content has saturated?
“Not really. We don’t question on TV. We want to entertain. We give a lot of family values, we give a lot of real stories also, but they cannot be questionable stories. They have to fit into the realm of acceptability for everyone in the family. We are making shows that are progressive, where women work, they say no to dowry, they break all barriers,” Ekta said while promoting her upcoming show Kundali Bhagya in New Delhi.
So has there been any idea or show which Ekta believed in but didn’t work? “Marital rape, which was there in Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, I got criticised because it was a big shock that why are you bringing this issue out and the last thing I expected was criticism on this. I did one show called Ajeeb Daastaan Hai Yeh which showed if a marriage is not working and if the husband is a horrible man then woman should have a chance to rethink and get out of it. But that show didn’t work. I was really disappointed. Every research showed that this is how marriages are and women have to adjust. I was hoping that some people would be inspired by the show but that didn’t happen. So this made me realise that we don’t want to see such shows on television that is not meeting our family’s thought process,” the co-owner of Balaji Telefilms said.
If there has been one thing constant forever, it has been the criticism Ekta faces for taking the television far behind from being progressive. How does she cope with it? “I don’t. I just live with it. If I started getting affected with criticism I would have jumped out the window many years ago. I was panned. I have had days when a headline read ‘You are killing Indian families Ekta Kapoor.’ I have realised one thing that you have to have your own yardstick of right and wrong and live by it,” she said.
But doesn’t she think as a producer, she has the responsibility to bring about a change from those regressive shows? “I don’t mind doing that but I want to do it on a different medium. What you will watch at home will be different but that doesn’t mean I won’t create content that I want young India to watch. I’ll do it in another medium. In a house it’s also about family power. Would you want to watch a show that your grandmother doesn’t want to? No!”
Ekta Kapoor stepped into web content by launching her app ALTBalaji with a set of brand new web shows, which are finite and youth targeted, but she refuses to call it progressive stuff. “I don’t know if I will call it progressive, but individualistic content. This is your mobile, it is your choice. See what you want to watch. I was actually shocked with the response ALTBalaji got. By next month I am going to put out 5-6 big shows. I am getting some of my old favourite actors back,” revealed Ekta.
So we asked her which film actor would she like to see making a television debut? “Ranveer Singh. I love him. I think he is too entertaining. He has been a delight to work with. He and Varun Dhawan have been fun. Even Arjun Kapoor actually. So if Ranveer Singh is ready, we would love to have him on our platform,” she quipped.
And how was it catching up with her Tulsi (Smriti Irani) and Parvati (Sakshi Tanwar) recently? “When me, Sakshi and Smriti met, they asked me ‘do you think you will get actors as hardworking as us?’ and I said no. But I said I need to continue working because one is a Union minister now and another one has given a Rs 2000 crore Dangal, so I need to still work a lot! You have realise there is a certain class to these actors.”
Ekta also revealed that she has tried to get Jeetendra act in one of her shows, but failed. “It is his choice. After a point in life, you can only request your parents, not force them.” But she also agreed that she doesn’t have the time to direct any show herself. “How will I direct? If I have to be creatively alive, I’d rather get the best directors rather than getting a shitty director like myself!”