It’s 5.30 on a Tuesday evening. My mobile was beeping with back to back text messages of Osama Bin Laden and then suddenly one text pops up that read – Come to Balaji to meet Ekta Kapoor. Now I’d be a fool not to take this one seriously. Within an hour I was dressed to meet India’s most powerful woman who has built an eponymous entertainment empire named ‘Balaji’. So what does one do with so many preconceived notions? “Ekta is very strict. Mind your move”, “Ekta isn’t easy to deal with”, “Ekta’s interview is not going to be easy”, and the many more one line suggestions started to pour on my mobile as I left for her Andheri office. I reach Balaji at 7pm. Ekta is nowhere to be seen as she was just driving back from one of the television shows where she was the guest of honour. Time is ticking and its 8pm and I’ve already gulped down a cup of green tea and black coffee. Then I was told to come on the 5th floor where she is busy changing to get ready for my interview. It’s 8.30pm and Ekta is talking with me in her fifth floor suite because both her life and her company are very much in transition. But before our talks, Ekta being Ekta introduces me to a few of her colleagues where she is surprised to know that I know a few of them already: courtesy Facebook. In her flawless Malini Ramani, she looked every bit an actress, and with her stretched smile, you definitely get drawn to her stunning symmetry of beauty and brains all intact. Ekta is one of those people who everybody knows but nobody knows much about, and apart from her occasional controversies and outbursts, it is her unparalleled track record from television to movies that has got her the labels – ‘Godmother of television’ and ‘Visionary of the big screen’. Considering that Ekta and her team are celebrating their four star reviews of Shor In The City and might pull off their first of its kind ‘the scariest date movie ever on Indian celluloid’ – Ragini MMS come May 13, I figured that now was as appropriate a time as any to ask her to share a little more about herself, her creativity, her gut instinct, her passion for new film subjects, her passion for autorickshaws, her passion for Shor In The City, her passion for Ragini MMS and above all, her passion for Balaji. All this and more in Part 1 exclusive only on Bollywood Hungama.
“My zone of thinking is that why some people think that their film will work or their script is a great script”
I don’t think I plan that well. I just go with my gut feel and then I try to support that gut with a slightly sound business plan. My zone of thinking is that why some people think that their film will work or their script is a great script. When everybody comes with their own unique conclusions, it makes an interesting read. Somebody has to think of something and tap into it and only then the research is made.
“I can watch a ‘masaledaar’ Salman movie with as much aplomb as I would watch a slightly dark and edgier Kashyap film”
I just hear scripts and I like them. I am a film goer. I go to the theatres to watch movies. I can watch a ‘masaledaar’ Salman Khan movie with as much aplomb as I would watch a slightly dark and edgier Anurag Kashyap film. So what does that make me? That makes me a young urban viewer, and if I am a young urban viewer, I’d love to cater to my taste. It’s all about having a nose and a taste, not to forget, a good ear to hear and you are well sorted.
“There are passionate filmmakers who’d love to make a small budget film with great content and there are people out there who love to hear a different story”
Unfortunately, we do not have so many opportunities given to young people because that’s where the talent lies. There are passionate filmmakers who’d love to make a small budget film with great content and there are people out there who love to hear a different story. Every film can’t be with a big star because there are only four of them. And I mean that all four can’t do twenty films a year. So what do you do? Do you wait? So you rather create some kind of body of work with which you’ll at least have some form of acceptance when you approach them. Today when I go to any actor, they take me very seriously because I have done the same.
“I am going to reveal the real Ragini soon”
Auto Rickshaw’s are super mode of transportation and they are always there on the roads. Instead of putting the cliched banners that cost so much, why not give the autowalla’s some business? Theatrical promotions and banners and posters will happen but I think I am going to reveal the real Ragini soon and that’s going to be the best marketing ever. The best part of Ragini MMS is that it’s based on a true story and when you know it’s a true story then you start to think and ask: Does this actually happen? Then it plays with your mind. I am actually going to bring the real Ragini out to the world.
“Films have a shorter lifespan than television but a more euphoric one”
Television today is no longer what it was five years ago. That euphoria for characters is dead. There’s so much of television happening. I mean it’s too much of a good thing. In films, on the other hand, because they’re three hours, they have a shorter lifespan but a more euphoric one. You see a television show and get excited to watch it but then you realise that you will have to watch two hundred more shows to finish off. It’s lost its daily dose effect. It’s there but it’s not that rampant. I think films yet give you those five minutes of fame. Earlier, television audiences were loyal but today they have more choices and they watch five different shows.
“Shor In The City has given ALT Entertainment that kind of a badge value that I’ve never imagined”
Shor In The City has given ALT Entertainment that kind of a badge value that I’ve never imagined. Clearly, I shared the mantle of a successful film with LSD and with Dibakar Banerjee. ALT made its second Hindi film Shor In The City and today I feel like a star, thanks to the entire four star reviews coming our way (laughs). But honestly, all our films so far have got four star reviews.
“I doubt if I can act”
Thank you for the sweet compliment that I look gorgeous (laughs). But I doubt if I can act because what I am looking now is thanks to my make up by Mallika. I am not much of an actress. The dress I am wearing is thanks to Malini Ramani. I look at it this way; personally, I am a very ‘pyjama and shorts’ kind of a girl. I love dressing down. I don’t like to dress up. Of course, I have to wear the ‘diva’ look and so I have to get Mallika to do my makeup and paint my face (laughs) and accentuate my look. So sometimes I look better than what I normally do.
“To make small budget films isn’t a conscious decision, it’s the only option we’ve got and I’m happy doing that”
Balaji Motion Pictures is always struggling. I really believe that we are strugglers who are climbing the ladder of success slowly. I got out of my comfort zone of television. You don’t even get to meet some actors for months and don’t even get meetings at times. That’s why one makes films on their own. This is not a conscious decision to make small films, it’s the only option we’ve got and I am happy doing it.