Ekta Kapoor changing the way people tune into TV
Television and film producer Ekta Kapoor turned 42 last week and feels she is growing younger with each passing year.
Starting her career at the age of 17, Kapoor is now making more youth-based shows on her digital platform ALTBalaji than before.
“I am ageing backwards. I am telling you, in my early 20s, I used to make TV series on saas-bahu (mother-in-law and daughter-in-law) sagas, and now making so many youth shows on the digital platform. But I think this happens because of the way the whole entertainment industry has changed, with new platforms, a mature audience and the demand for customised content,” she explained.
Kapoor, known for producing iconic television shows like Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi and Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki, also has backed films like Veere Di Wedding and Lipstick Under my Burkha, as well as the critically-lauded web series The Test Case, starring Nimrat Kaur.
The daughter of veteran actor Jeetendra has not only made a mark in the entertainment industry but also redefined the image of women in show business.
“Whatever I do not get to do on TV, I do on the digital platform because the audience is different, young and more receptive towards experimental content. So, I have got the opportunity to create content like Haq Se and The Test Case,” she said.
While the former show is an adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, the web series starring Kaur chronicles the Indian Army’s first female test case in a combat role.
“Digital is the medium that serves content for every age group of people with a different taste. That is how entertainment should be,” added Kapoor, who is known for discovering new talents in the entertainment business.
India’s Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani was one of her discoveries who played the lead role in Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi almost two decades ago.
Kapoor says she goes by her instinct to give new talent a chance.
Citing the example of Sakshi Tanwar, she explained: “You know I have not seen such dignity on-screen in an actor like that I have seen in Sakshi. In Kahaani she was actually playing one of the small roles. But when I saw the final pilot episode, I just realised that she is the apt choice for Parvati Bhabhi (the show’s lead character).”
“Since she was a newcomer and was not ready to shift her base from Delhi to Mumbai; I had to wait for some time for her. My unit questioned if taking such a risk was worthy. But you know what, when I see the essence of the character in an actor, ego does not come in between. I told everyone back then, ‘Just wait and watch. People will watch the show because of Parvati Bhabhi’. Now, we all know how right I was,” shared the producer.
Though in her films and web series her projection of women is strong, she still gets criticised for some of her supernatural TV shows. Does she need to make such shows?
“Why not? If people are criticising my shows like Naagin or other shows with supernatural content, I want to ask why not? Why is folklore criticised if it is Indian when the same audience is surviving on American folklore? America survives on Avengers, Game of Thrones, Vampire ... I can go on. They watch them voraciously!”
“Our Naagin is not only popular in every region of our country, but also in Pakistan. It has been remade in Indonesia. So you see, people watch!”
So, did she grow thick skin to deal with criticism?
“We have to understand that people have a perception that anything that is popular is substandard. I do not take that. You know William Shakespeare was one of the most criticised playwrights when he was alive. Today, we celebrate him.
“I look at things this way: critics will always hate populist stuff, and they would encourage anything alternative,” she said.
Perhaps, that is why Kapoor received a lot of appreciation from the same critics for supporting a film like Lipstick Under My Burkha and Veere Di Wedding that set the example of breaking the glass ceiling.
“But you cannot box me…no, you cannot do that. I will make a TV show for an audience of small town, a digital show like The Test Case and a film like Lipstick ... for a south Mumbai crowd — everything with equal conviction and will cater them to their target audience,” said the producer, who is busy with several projects, including Rajkummar Rao and Kangna Ranaut-starrer Mental Hai Kya?.