Joined: 22 November 2004
"I could be meeting Rupert Murdoch soon"
With media mogul Rupert Murdoch's Star group acquiring a 21 per cent stake in Balaji Telefilms Limited for Rs 1.23 billion, the production house, sometimes called Ekta Kapoor's soap factory is on a high. But what does the stake imply? Is there more than meets the eye?
TV's prima donna talks to Vickey Lalwani.
What was your reaction when the deal came through?
I thought that I'd wake up feeling different that day. But I woke up from the same side of the bed, felt very normal for a long time. I wasn't feeling special, but then... (pauses)
But then, when we were signing the papers, I closed my eyes and realized how enormous a deal it was. Then, I celebrated by taking my friends out to dinner at Zenzi.
What does this stake imply?
It implies that Star firmly believes that Balaji Telefilms is the best content provider. As for us, there will be extra financial mobility which means extra creative mobility as well.
How much creative control will Balaji share with Star?
Creative freedom and secrecy will lie 100 per cent with Balaji Telefilms.
Wouldn't they like to see the stuff you dish out for other channels, beforehand?
Why would they like to see that? Star never interfered even when they were owners of the show and when they had a complete right to. Balaji Telefilms and Star have always had a great equation, which arises from mutual faith and respect. If I am making a show for Sony Entertainment Television or any other channel, they will not interfere in what, where and how I am making any show. Today, media is so strong. Almost every show is out in the open when it is still in the conceptual stages.
But other channels might be apprehensive that you are reserving the best for Star?
I have been long in this profession for anybody to know what Ekta Kapoor is all about. Ekta Kapoor means professionalism which is second to none.
Is it possible that Balaji Telefilms might have to change its name down the line because of the Star stake?
That will never happen. If you go through the papers of the deal, every loophole has been guarded to ensure that nothing would go against Balaji Telefilms ever. We were in discussions since the past two months. Dad was doing the talking from our side. It was never a Should I do it? Should I not? kind of a deal. It was a very smooth process worked out till the last detail.
Will the Star stake now mean less work with Sony, Zee, Sahara...
(Interrupts) Definitely not. If you see my current fiscal plans, you will see that I have more work lined up with other channels. We have at least eight shows commissioned and ready to go on air in the next few months, two each slotted on Zoom and Star Plus, one each on Star One, Hungama, Sony and MTV. In fact, my real test begins now. This feeling that hereafter, Balaji Telefilms will provide the best to only Star is preposterous. I will have to erase it. In fact, I am going to increase the number of channels I work with. With every new channel that launches, I want to be a part of it. I am always full of ideas and will continue to share them with one and all (pauses). Along with myself and my company, I want the television industry to grow as well. I am extremely passionate about television.
My shows for other channels will also mean business. Why would Star like to lose on that?
Most of your shows on Star Plus tend to rock. The shows on other channels don't seem to work as well.
I refuse to buy that. It's just been incidental. Life is a long journey. As I told you, my real test has just begun.
Have you met Rupert Murdoch?
No. But I think I'll be meeting him shortly (smiles).
Joined: 19 November 2004
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