Ekta Kapoor moves away from the Tulsi-Parvati stereotypes to explore edgy, real characters. Harshikaa Udasi tunes in to catch up with the change
For her press meet for two new shows on Sony Entertainment Television (“Baytaab Dil Ki Tamanna” and “Pyar Ka Bandhan”), Balaji Telefilms’ Ekta Kapoor walks in a good two hours late, unapologetic for the delay. If you are looking for any signs of mellowness in her demeanour post her fall from the high pedestal as the queen of soaps, you are mistaken.
With another new show on rival channel Colors (“Bairi Piya”), this seems to be some sort of comeback for the drama queen. “No, it isn’t,” she says defiantly, as she settles down for a chat. “I hadn’t gone anywhere; so, I am not coming back. But yes, hopefully, the audiences will come back to us,” she says, giving the only hint of apprehension.
After having tasted failure with rather stiff competition coming up on the TV content front, the daughter of yesteryear actor Jeetendra and Shobha Kapoor has now changed tracks. And, even if she does not want to admit it, Ekta has been bitten hard by the reality bug. Her fortnight-old show “Bairi Piya” on Colors is about the farmer suicides in Maharashtra, while ‘Baytaab Dil Ki Tamanna’ is about human trafficking, prostitution and begging, as part of a story of two sisters who see life in opposite ways.
Her three forthcoming films are also based on real-life incidents. “No, it’s not just reality. For instance, for ‘Baytaab…’ I wanted something defiant, quirky and edgy, and I immediately locked this subject. I have realised that I don’t need to play safe now,” she says.
In her own words, “Bataab…” is a “grunge and guttural show” about two people who have different connotations of ambition. Her protagonist in this one is an ‘anti-heroine’ (her own term) who never treads the middle path and doesn’t view things as moral or immoral but as achievable or non-achievable. So, expect outrageous decisions and beeped-out foul language.
That’s quite a departure from her too-good-to-be-true Tulsi and Parvati characters. “I was very influenced by Howard Roark from Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead. When I did my earlier shows too, I would always ask myself why the heroine couldn’t ever buckle under pressure. I have met several people in real life who want to see their ambitions get fulfilled come what may.”
The highs and lows
Life’s not been smooth after the TRPs of her shows steadily climbed down in the last two years, and Ekta admits that she’s had her share of lows. Her trusted lieutenants Sandeep Sickand and Nivedita Basu had also left her, but now the former is back to beef up content.
“I can’t let my life be directly proportional to the TRPs of my shows. I’d have a very sad life then. Yes, it did happen to me for a long time. But then, I realised there’s more to life. Such as sharing a pizza with friends or watching a movie together!”
To say that she’s excited about this new phase is an understatement.
Her production house is working on three new films — the Milan Luthria-directed “Once Upon A Time In Mumbai”, starring Ajay Devgan, Emraan Hashmi, and Kangna Ranaut (based on the life of the 1980s Mumbai don Haji Mastan), “Khosla Ka Ghosla” and “Oye Lucky Lucky Oye” director Dibakar Bannerjee’s “LSD” and “A Wednesday” director Neeraj Pandey’s “Special 26” (based on a mind-boggling robbery at the well-known jewellery shop TBZ in Mumbai in 1987).
Having just started “LSD”, inspired by the ‘Borat’ series, Ekta says that it’s a subject she absolutely flipped over. “I wanted to call it ‘Love in the Times of Camera’, but there were too many English words; so, we called it ‘Love, Sex and Dhokha’, which ran into trouble thanks to the word ‘sex’, and I decided to shorten it to LSD!” she laughs.
“The weapon of destruction has changed from the sword to the gun to the pen and, now, the camera. Every Rs. 3,000 mobile has an in-built camera with which anyone can literally make or break a person,” she says, explaining her choice.
The film will be shot mainly in Delhi, and sting operations, hidden cameras, love or the lack of it, infidelity will all be part of it. “It’s not a defiant movie. It’s actually a three-part movie viewed by the camera, and I think people will love the film as they will be able to identify with all the characters caught on camera, especially the men in Delhi!”