Get a child in need a pair of shoes for free
A decade-and-a-half ago, with divine grace and unmatched drive, one woman changed the way society looked at entertainment. And with her motion picture company delivering niche movies that are turning into blockbusters at the box office, there is no doubt Ekta Kapoor and her Balaji Telefilms, along with Balaji Motion Pictures, defines change in Indian television and cinema. Bollywood Hungama’s Devansh Patel recently shared a candid chat with the film-maker about her burgeoning career…
Ekta Kapoor has always been a mystery to me. But is she a good businesswoman or an even better creative head?
I think I am instinctive. If in business an instinct works, I am instinctive to a certain extent. If in creativity, too, it works, then so be it. But if it goes against you, you go wrong on both counts. Creativity isn’t against business, it’s always supportive. If there is any form of creativity that’s going against the business acumen of the company, it’s a whim. I am not whimsical; I’m instinctive at times and more creative.
So, you know your viewers’ tastes while making a film?
For any movie of mine I want to be a viewer first and then a maker. So when I am a viewer, I like to get a pleasant shock, I like to enjoy good music that’s got some quirky lyrics. So if I enjoy it, I make it. I don’t make it and then enjoy it.
People often say films aren’t working because audiences have changed, their mentality… blah blah. Your thoughts on that.
I don’t think audiences have changed. There are different audiences for different films. Why do I call my mom a different viewer? It’s the same answer. She is a different audience. We have a huge consumer market. Unless it’s a 90 crore film (multibillion rupees), why do I bother about getting the whole world to watch my films? Viewers only want entertainment. Period. Whether the entertainment comes in the form of comedy, drama, action, so be it. When I go to a theatre, I just see multiplex viewers don’t have any patience for boredom. People who enter the theatre want to have fun.
You have so much faith in your team, be it hiring new writers, directors and taking some insane decisions that no production houses take.
I put a lot of faith in my work. I don’t call it a ‘risk’ by working with new people. What works for me is a great script. It’s my responsibility to promote the film. If I fall short of doing that, it’s bad. New directors and writers put in extra effort – that’s a bonus. We have to do things we believe in and not only things that are great on paper. We’ve seen things work great on paper that got white-washed on screen.
Instead of asking what’s the secret recipe of making Balaji blockbusters, let me ask you – where does Balaji go now?
Balaji is a very young company. We have been in film production for three years now. From my viewpoint, we’ve not even scratched the surface. We are a production house claiming to be a studio (laughs). We’ve just started getting our international partners in place for various releases all over the world for various films of ours.
The studio isn’t about production alone; the studio is about how you can manage to optimise the sale and franchise of the film and how to get the maximum commercial value out of it. We’ve not been able to do that (a slight pause) yet (laughs).
Our strength as of now is production and we are getting our distribution arm in place, too. We are an in-house production team and that has helped us create a certain amount of respect in the fraternity and beyond. But for financial exploitation, we now have to start taking more risks rather than just selling out various territories, but eventually releasing films on our own. We will slowly turn into a big studio (smiles).
Let me begin by asking you, will Balaji ever work with any of the Khans (actors)?
Of course (excited). Well, it’s one of those milestones you want to cross at a point of your career. If you have a film production house or a studio and you don’t work with the Khans, it’s quite embarrassing.
We are looking at approaching the Khans in the near future. But as I said, no relationship can be built without having something that we can put on the table. We are three years old. We clearly know what they can put on the table. We need to know our strengths and then be able to shake hands with the best.
Kyaa Super Kool Hain Hum is releasing seven years after its predecessor. Do you wish you had released the film earlier?
I really don’t know if I should have released Kyaa Super Kool Hain Hum earlier. I was doing other things back then. I know it’s a long time since Kyaa Kool Hain Hum was released too, but I guess it just happened that the right script fell in my lap. I mean, it was definite that when I relaunched our Balaji banner with Alt Entertainment, I never wanted Kyaa Super Kool Hain Hum to be the first three movies to come out of the production house. This just happens to be the right time, to be honest.
Tusshar and Riteish – two mad men in one film. It’s like having a laughter attack. How did you see their potential in the comic genre?
Tusshar Kapoor and Riteish Deshmukh, they both have done some hit comedies over the past decade. Tusshar with his Golmaal series and more and Riteish with his Heyy Babyy, Housefull and more.
Now they are known in that genre as “comic boys”. I don’t think people realise the potential of bringing both of them into one film. I always tell them that together they are dynamite.
Kya Kool Hain Hum, their first film together, created historic numbers at that time. It had no publicity back then like, nothing like how we do now, but still it clearly showed the potential of having them together. We can’t create the same magic just like that. So we create fresher brands and then bring in the old brand and get the recall value.
Sakshi Tanwar is such an amazing actress. Do you think it’s time for her to jump from television to movies?
I am thinking of getting Sakshi Tanwar in movies soon. I want her to do a strong role in any of the ensemble movies I will be making soon. I think Ram is already doing films with YRF and a brilliant role in Karan Johar’s next. I am going to be doing some super stuff with both of them. They are some of the few actors who connect with the classes and the masses.
With so much being said about the most ambitious co-production to take place in Bollywood between your company and Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions, what’s the latest on the lead pair?
Casting a Dharma Productions and Balaji co-production is brilliant. It’s the most unexpected casting. Karan Johar will be taking the final call soon. It’s a fabulous positioning for any boy and any girl. The heroine is the mainstay of the film and the hero is the anti-hero. As of now, we are concentrating on the scripting of the film and Karan will announce the lead actors soon.