Posted: 26 March 2006 at 4:52am | IP Logged
Kya cool hoon main!
serial maker Ekta Kapoor, dramatic scenes are all in a day's work. No
wonder she's unfazed by criticism and unafraid of telling it like it
is, says Abha Srivastava
is the high priestess of high drama. The show woman who has spawned a
new genre of soap operas. A television star maker (and breaker) who has
millions of saas-bahus across the country weeping copiously into their
pallus every evening. This soap queen also resurrects screen characters
and show TRPs, gets bouquets and brickbats in equal measure and is
perhaps one of the most discussed and scrutinised television producers
ever. Love her or loathe her, there's just no ignoring Ekta Kapoor.
From being called regressive to being termed downright dim-witted,
Ekta and her serials have withstood an avalanche of criticism from the
general populace. "My TRPs have shot through the roof. The introduction
of the euthanasia track in Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi has garnered
major public interest. It has been accepted by the Indian audience, and
appreciated as well. So you tell me why my shows are termed
regressive?" she raises her eyebrows, and continues, "Look, just
because my women wear saris, it doesn't mean that they are dumb."
to her, the viewers are not ready to accept completely Western concepts
and programmes. What then about the daughters-in-law who cross over to
the dark side daily or the mothers who create month-long mayhem? Are
they accepted by the audience as readily as she thinks? "The daily
machinations depicted in my serials do take place in our joint
families. I agree that my presentation is dramatic, at times, overly
so. But I am sure that viewers are intelligent enough to see through
that and understand that, essentially, our storylines
are progressive and have a common theme, which is that every woman
wants to and has the right to lead her life the way she wants to.
Whether it is Parvati, who'll tie the knot again, or Tulsi, who'll soon
adopt an abandoned baby girl, Krishnatulsi, or Nandini who had the
strength to raise her voice against marital rape… all my women are
strong. Plus, I have tackled issues like marital rape, euthanasia,
remarriage, etc, in my shows. Why am I not praised for that?"
The tirade over, for the time being, she takes a few deep breaths, fiddles with the countless rings on her fingers, and
absent-mindedly smudges the red tikka on her forehead. "At the end of
the day," says Ekta softly, "I am no saint. I'd like my shows to be
platforms for relevant social messages. But ultimately, it is a
commercial arena, where TRPs matter the most." They sure do. The magic
of moolah is hard to disregard. Is that why the woman who propagates
till-death-do-us-apart kind of family values made what can only be
called a sex comedy, Kya Cool Hai Hum, recently? "Why was everyone
surprised with that? I made
Krishna Cottage earlier, which was a thriller, my serial Hum Paanch was
a comic caper… And I never said that I'd only make a certain kind of
shows or movies. I wanted to make a sex comedy, so I did," she reasons.
Anonymity is not in her destiny, much as she'd like it to be.
"I am paranoid about keeping my personal life personal," says the
30-year-old self-confessed workaholic, who runs her television empire –
Balaji Telefilms – from suburban Mumbai.
image, or what people think I am, is already so exposed. And I don't
want to rectify that perception. I'd rather be misunderstood than have
the whole world understand me! There's no way I am going to allow
strangers to discuss my life over a cup of chai," she states
categorically. With her chin jutting out firmly and a nononsense air
about her, Ekta personifies the head of a production company who has a
reputation of giving vent to her displeasure in a very vocal manner.
Her temper is legendary and altercations with cast members are fodder
"Oh, I have sobered down a lot now. Though at
times I wish I hadn't. I have realised that screaming just leads to bad
blood. But I try to keep the fear factor alive. Basically, I think I
just got bored of screaming," she grimaces, while glancing at some
papers in her office, where a huge statue of Lord Ganesha dominates the
proceedings. As he casts his benign eye on the massive glass tabletop,
smaller versions of the elephant god are clustered around
strategically. The atmosphere of divinity is allpervasive. And it is
from within this ambience that Ekta churns out the trials and
tribulations of Tulsi, Parvati, Pallavi, Bani, Kashish, Anjali,
Mandira, Nitya et al. Some of the aforementioned are sickeningly sweet,
while the others are devilishly diabolical. Two extremes. Much like the
reactions Ekta evinces from the general populace: There are those who
put her on a pedestal so that they can venerate her, while there are
others who would love to see her fall flat on her face, but as long as
she's perched at that height, wouldn't quite mind taking a few swipes
But Ekta merely swats away the criticism. Sure of herself
and with a nose for what will be lapped up by the audience, she just c
h a r ge s ahead where angels fear to tread. A far cry from the
18-year-old couch potato who loved gorging on chips
and harboured the ambition of making just Rs 20,000 a month, so that
she could go shopping! "Ultimately, my father got sick of me! He never
saw me attending college either, as I was a big jugadoo, who always
managed to get people to fudge my attendance record," she laughs,
adding that one of her first 'jobs' was one where she wasn't paid till
she proved her mettle. "Aarti Surendranath gave me my first job and a
special designation was created for me – associate model co-ordinator!
That was the lowest designation and I was a regular flunky…not being
acknowledged by people at work who'd fraternise with me socially," she
smiles, with a worldlywise look about her.
a relatively young age, Ekta seems to have seen the various hues
(plenty of dark ones as well) of life. She insists that this impression
is created because of her shows. Perhaps. She does think
of storylines and dialogues that gel well with people who are twice her
age… And all the carping be damned. "I really don't care," she says,
resolutely, adding, "We all tell stories. It just depends on who is
narrating them and how."
Her creativity doesn't seem to be
going through a wringer in spite of new shows, like Kandy Floss, being
churned out by her production house. Women, their independence, love
and the joint family tradition form the fabric of her serials, and Ekta
Kapoor is very proud of it. "I've always tried to show that love
doesn't have to be linked to marriage. Like in Kasauti, where Prerna
and Anurag have a past
together, still feel for each other, but are married to different
people. And no, they aren't indulging in an extra-marital affair
either! It's just that at times, social parameters far outweigh the
bonds of love…" she trails
off, as once again, she starts fiddling with her various rings. Why all
the rings? Is it to hide a basic insecurity? "Partly. And then there's
the faith I have in them. Some extra help never hurt anyone! Actually, I have never analysed why I wear so many stones… I just might hate the answer!" she reveals.
Ekta Kapoor. The queen bee of soap operas. The erstwhile aimless young girl who has displayed an astonishing head for business.
Kapoor. Jeetendra's daughter who has never harboured ambitions about
facing the camera and instead, has given soap addicts innumerable
characters' life sagas to ponder over.
Ekta Kapoor. Who can't think of slowing down as all she knows is to "eat and make serials".
And the rest of the world can eat their words, as far as she's concerned.