By Arundhuti Banerjee
Mumbai, June 7 (IANS) Popular producer Ekta Kapoor turned 42 on Thursday and feels that she is ageing backwards.
Starting her career at the age of 17, Ekta is now making more youth-based shows on her digital platform ALTBalaji than before.
Asked if this is her way to stay relevant with time, Ekta told IANS here: “I am ageing backwards I am telling youâ¦ in my early 20s, I used to make TV series on ‘saans-bahu’ 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 customized content.”
Ekta, 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 web series “The Test Case”.
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 âHaq Se’ and ‘The Test Case’,” she said.
“Digital is the medium that serves content for every age group of people with a different taste. That is how entertainment should be,” added Ekta, who is known for discovering new talents in the entertainment business.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani was one of her best discoveries as an actress. She had played the lead role in “Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi” almost two decades ago.
Ekta shared how she goes by her instinct to give new talent a chance.
Citing the example of Sakshi Tanwar, she said: “You know I have not seen such dignity on-screen in an actor like that I have seen in Sakshi. In âKahaaniâ¦’ 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 âParvati Bhabhi’.”
“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 betweenâ¦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 wasâ¦” shared the producer.
Though in her films and web series her projection of women is strong, she still gets criticized for some of her supernatural TV shows. Does she need to make such shows?
“Why not? If people are criticizing my shows like âNaagin’ or other shows with supernatural content, I want to ask why not? Why is folklore criticized if it is Indian when the same audience is surviving on American folklore? America survives on ‘Avengers’, âGame of Thrones’, ‘Vampireâ¦’ and I can go on. They watch them voraciously!”
“Our âNaagin’ is not only popular in every region of our country but also in Pakistan. It has been remade in Indonesia. So you see, people seeâ¦!”
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 criticized playwrights when he was alive. Today, we celebrate him.
“I look at things this wayâ¦critics will always hate populist, and they would encourage anything alternative,” she said.
Perhaps, that is why Ekta 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 meâ¦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 âLipstickâ¦’ 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?”
(Arundhuti Banerjee can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)