I met Ekta Kapoor, I knew she had vision. She may be brash,
she may be vicious, and a sadist, you may accuse her of weaving
a spell of pseudo-feministic, postlude post-modernistic regressive
trends among the way women perceive themselves; she may be
all that the media makes her to be, and more; but she has
vision. Who else, but she, could have dreamt of plucking the
modern woman out of her external world and placing her right
back where she belongs: in the kitchen, in the bedroom, in
the gossip or scheming chambers. Unthinkable in today's day
and age, but she did it. And she did it ever so smoothly that
even women lauded her for her revolutionary emancipationist
portrayals. Vision, that's what she has.
her office room, for instance. Even before you've entered
her room, you know you've entered the den of a lioness madly
in love with herself. Mind you, she has only angelic faces
of hers smiling down from all the walls and ceilings, and
up from the floor, but there's no masking the tigress with
a vision behind those deceiving smiles. The place smacks of
her now loaded famous line "life banaa doongi" (I'll
make your life), and every twitch in her body reinforces that
I was meeting her for the first time in her Mumbai office.
Looking up from her mirror, she asked me that unsurprisingly-expected
question (and perhaps the only one) that distinguishes the
prospective employer from a prospective mother-in-law, "So,
why do you want to join us?" That was just a slip, for
she quickly corrected herself, "Join me?" Just as
well, for everyone knows the one-woman empire she runs. Prospective
employers and in-laws can be of several types: autocrats,
megalomaniacs, martinets, whip-crackers, and several others
that I can't readily recall. There may be an odd exception
there, but that doesn't say much. Ekta Kapoor's natural style
of working would put her into the first two categories. I
would adequately warn my son from ever marrying into her family.
is different with employers. You cannot be that choosy. Given
my desultory interest in the idiot box in general, and the
saas-bahu sagas in particular, I really had no business sitting
with her. So, why was I there?
I have the answer to that till date, but like most interviewees
who sail through this question, I mumbled words like challenge,
passion, and so on, and she appeared taken in.
Okay. So what do you know about me?" Please link this
question with her style of functioning above.
you are King, Kempress, Kountess and Kughal of the television
world," and on a scrap of paper scribbled these sobriquets
with her trademark double K's and slipped it down to her.
ha ha! I like your sense of non sense. You are in!" Vanity
needs little else to feed upon.
hands, and she asked, "So, you say you haven't written
television scripts earlier? You think you'll be able to handle
confidently, "I have been writing for magazines for several
years. How different can writing for daily soaps get?"
see…" the far-from-reassuring tone didn't portend
well just as I was about to step into a new organisation.
As I got up to leave the room, she said, "Are you used
to working with creative bosses?"
what boss? What a dumb question to ask, I thought to myself,
didn't I tell you I've been a free lancer all my life; but
politely shook my head before her.
remember. I am there for concepts, storyline, ideas, plots,
words, the works. The rest is up to you. Of course, you understand
that you have complete autonomy here?"
Ahem. Yes boss.
me that the theme for the fortnight was lust. I didn't quite
follow that, but waited for puzzles to get sorted on their
own. It took her sidekicks just a few minutes to realise that
I was clueless about kitchen-politics plots. I was made to
sit through reels of some previous tapes to get an idea. I
saw how women suffer, whimper, whine, scowl, scare, plot,
deceive, kill, die, and are reborn to go through the same
cycle again. Tenacity is in no short supply; goodness of heart
and intent is, and warmth, even more.
a slap-special episode, where everyone who was anyone walked
up to the stage and slapped a woman standing there. The same
woman who was the recipient of this honour in each case stood
there mute, while these others had their lines to say after
their slaps, and thus managed their two minutes of fame. (Unlike,
as I soon discovered, most men characters in the soaps who
are mostly lily-livered spineless squeaks who often get by
several episodes without a word to speak on screen.) It so
happened that every other serial aired in that week had a
more-or-less similar sequence! I finally knew what the theme
for each fortnight meant! I identified several other themes
which have already been aired: kidnapping of husband, kidnapping
of wife, abduction of child, death of husband, death of child,
infidelity, first-wife-reuniting-with-third-husband or vice
versa, ghosts scaring people who aren't yet ghosts, husband
killing wife or vice versa, and many more such pulse-stopping,
heart rending plots.
the viewing gallery, where I was made to witness several parallel
shoots all overlapping in terms of sets, costumes, actors
and actresses and the props. It would have needed a complex
grid and quick planning to manage these five rooms on the
set, with shoots for five different serials in each; the actors
spoke, cried, pouted and vomited their parts in one room,
quickly disappeared into the changing room, and reappeared
on the set to do their parts in the other room for the other
serial. From Kanjivaram silks in the kitchen shot to a slinky
nightdress in the drawing room, to a heavily bejewelled protagonist
turning off the lights in the bedroom, these transitions were
quick and unmistakably un-lifelike.
How long did I survive there? Why ask, now that you know I
am back doing what I like best: being my own boss!
(R) thedailystar.net 2004