Mumbai: She is envied for her hard work and success but she is also given many not-so-flattering tags. A slave driver, short tempered, mistrusting and many more. Refreshingly, Ekta Kapoor admits to all of them but says she’s a changed woman today.
Ques: After enjoying huge success, your company went through a really bad phase in 2008 and suffered a loss of around Rs 14 crore. What did that phase teach you?
Ekta Kapoor: We lost more than Rs 14 crore. After a steady success for eight years, suddenly everything started going wrong. I was a wreck. Channel 9, where we had many serials running, shut down, we had this fight with Star TV, we had paid advance to a company to make films and that wasn’t materialising, ask me what didn’t go wrong. Only post Pavitra Rishta things started looking up. This is when I realised that if I took calculated proposals it would be a big risk to take. My choice was making a huge film and spend two crores over promotions or make a three crore film and depend on the content. Brand Balaji going for the brand value of Dibakar and going completely against the flavour and texture of what they have been doing itself made enough noise to launch a brand.
Ques: Also this perhaps gained you more respect as till then in spite of being called the czarina of television you were also criticised for making regressive content…
Ekta: But if you ask me, I am still more proud of my achievements in television. It is so tough to cater to that many tastes. I might not understand the financial situation of a middle class home but the middle class values I can totally identify with. In fact, there was a survey that said that women in homes got more assertive after this TV boom started. So many of my friends told me that I make regressive serials, but these were the people who wouldn’t even watch TV. They would say – ‘Oh I watched one or two scenes and I didn’t like what I saw’. I would call such people myopic. I still have far more respect for TV producers because there is no star power there; all that works is the content. Those TV producers are not lunching with Salman Khan or dining with SRK. All they have is the content that could either make or break a serial. I on a personal level just ran out of stories to tell on television, so the only other medium available for me was films where I could explore darker, edgier stories. Stories with more layers…in truth, I am bohemian in thought and conservative in action.
Ques: When you were riding high you were a short-tempered, impatient person. Did the low phase mellow you down?
Ekta: I was 17 when I started my TV career. If you have the number one show when you are 19 and at 25 the whole era on television is being dedicated to you, you are bound to grow cat’s whiskers. I made some really stupid decisions, I lost some really nice friends because I asked them to leave the company. I was short tempered because I had too much work. I didn’t know how to absorb it all. It is not the low phase but it is success, which taught me a few things. Now when I look back I have realised that no longer do I want to be a slave to success. I was in such a hurry to be successful that I simply didn’t care.
Today I know that you have to be a human being first. Tomorrow if none of my films do well, I am not going to reach the lowest rungs of depression like I used to. I know that I have many other things to be thankful for. If I am not successful maybe the world will value me lesser, but the world’s view not necessarily be my own view of myself. Today spirituality comes to me before success. In fact, it is my strong belief in God that has cushioned my failure. I have not become a saint, but I can say sorry more easily now. I am willing to accept my fault. I have killed my ego and learnt to say sorry.
Ques: And is there a regret you can’t amend?
Ekta: Yes, I didn’t have time for amma. She was my guardian and took care of us for 27 years. When she was dying I was too busy to be with her. I gave work my highest priority. She took care of me for so many years and I couldn’t spare a few months for her. Regret lasts longer than anything else and that is a karmic burden I will always carry.
Ques: You also had trust issues?
Ekta: I still do. At one point I stopped talking to people, started closing all doors and I was very wary of people in general. Now you see the much lighter me. I used to feel that everyone is after me for something.
It is then my mum told me, if you close the very first door, how would you know when a genuine person wants to enter? She said keep the door open, and then the second door let only few people enter and then slowly you can reach the trust lever with fewer people. People tell me that after a certain age you can’t make friends, but now I know that if you haven’t kept the doors open, someone out there who might share the same world as you, will not have been given the opportunity to come close to you.
Ques: If the door is open, why is your love life still not happening?
Ekta: I really don’t know why. I am very pissed with myself for that. Either I am too intimidating or it is the bad placement of stars. I don’t want to get involved with an actor…
Ques: Why? Your dad was an actor…
Ekta: (Laughing) But my mum was not a producer. That door is never open for an actor….
Ques: Are your standards high?
Ekta: No. My standards are really low. But it just doesn’t happen. Even a flirty situation has not come up. I have not been remotely interested in a guy since last one year…But my trust issues come up here too. I still think somewhere you have got to be careful. I just want to protect my heart from rejection. Also I am not sure who is approaching me for what I am. I joined a gym and I couldn’t work out because there were four aspiring actors working out only around me. I take a flight, pursers give me their numbers. If I write a story, I will have the most amusing real life incidents to narrate. How will I ever know who wants to genuinely be my friend and not use me? A friend was asking me the other day if there is anyone I trust at all, and I said yes, only my mother. I have learnt many things now. I have learnt to delegate. I have also learnt that I won’t die if I don’t continue being successful. People’s expectations of you can be killing. In 2005 I thought I can’t give a flop ever. But today I wouldn’t care less. If I fail and if you don’t want to talk to me, that’s your problem. I am on this let me be happy phase. For me spirituality comes first and then success. It can be really lonely at the top and the company you have around is not what you want. So I am not taking that risk again.