When I feel low on self worth, I channelise my inner Bachchan: Ektaa Kapoor

Last month, Kapoor was honoured with the International Emmy Directorate Award

ekta-kapoor-file (File) Ekta Kapoor

From being called a wannabe producer to becoming the first Indian woman to receive the International Emmy Directorate Award, it's been a whirlwind of a journey for Ektaa Kapoor, who considers megastar Amitabh Bachchan an inspiration when it comes to acing the "game of relevance".

It's 30 years and counting for Kapoor in the showbiz across mediums of television, cinema and streaming. Going forward, her goal is clear: either create something she hasn't before or become a "creative ally" of newer voices.

"My favourite line always has been: 'When I feel low, I channelise my inner Beyonce. When I feel even lower and low on self-worth, I channelise my inner (Amitabh) Bachchan.' I really think he is one person who has played the game of relevance so well. To be in an industry for 50 plus years and be relevant today means so much more today to me," the producer told PTI in an interview here.

Last month, Kapoor was honoured with the International Emmy Directorate Award for significant contribution to the world of arts and entertainment at a ceremony in New York.

"It has been quite a whirlwind journey. The Emmy was overwhelmingly a pleasant surprise. It's great to bring home for India, especially the directorate (award) which is really an honour that fills my heart with gratitude," she added.

Kapoor is the co-founder of production house Balaji Telefilms, known for creating long-running popular soap operas such as "Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi", "Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii", "Kaahin Kissii Roz", "Kasautii Zindagii Kay" and "Bade Achhe Lagte Hain".

The banner, which later branched out to making movies (Balaji Motion Pictures) and streaming shows (ALT Balaji), will celebrate its three decade anniversary in August 2024.

A lot has changed since she began making TV shows, says the 48-year-old producer who believes there's no homogeneity in content anymore as there is an influx of fresh talent.

"At this point, I would want the next 30 years to be either I create something which I haven't created before or ally. I want to have a creative alliance more than creating now."

The art to curate is a bigger art for her now, she said, adding priorities have changed over time because "creativity takes time, it takes a lot". 

"I have a son, work, all these things come, your personal health takes a certain amount of your day. A certain amount of your day goes to managerial parts of the business.

"You have to go from being a protege to becoming a mentor...The art of curating content is as big an art as creating content. Hopefully, the next 30 years for me will be creating a company that has made the freshest, newest voices in India that have found global acceptance. I definitely want to be part of the next 30 years, if I'm here."

Not many people know that Kapoor made about six dramas that didn't take off. It was "Hum Paanch", a sitcom in 1995 that gave her a much-needed breakthrough.

"When you are younger, you have a sense of humour. I had a lot of time. I used to watch American shows, it was a big kick. You see these really great sitcoms, of course, 'Friends' wasn't there at the time. There was 'The Fresh Prince of Bel Air', 'Just the Ten of Us', 'The Beverly Hillbillies', I was like what fun to make a (sitcom) ... 'Cheers', 'Who's the Boss?'. I was like this is the time to make something fun and then 'Hum Paanch' happened."

In the 2000s came her 'K-dramas', a string of soap operas that began with the letter 'K' and became massively popular with the audiences.

"I was no longer considered a wannabe producer. There was a little bit of credibility and that was for comedy. So, for a long time before I got my first break to do a drama which happened in 1998-99 which was a South Indian show ('Pasamalargal'), from there I got my Hindi drama a chance. Both the (Zee TV) shows 'Hum Paanch' and 'Koshish -- Ek Aashaa' started on a Tuesday and then I got 'Ghar Ek Mandir', and then I got 'Kyunkis' and 'Kahaanis'," she added.

Kapoor, daughter of veteran film star Jeetendra and producer Shobha Kapoor, later backed movies, including "Love Sex aur Dhokha", "Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai", and "The Dirty Picture". 

Over the years, what has changed in the ecosystem of entertainment is that there's no 'one-size-fits-all' kind of content, she said.

"There are these few and far between high-impact content, mostly movies, that will come once in a year or twice a year which everyone will watch. But otherwise there's no 'one-size-fits-all' anymore..."

Be it comedies in theatres like "Dream Girl" or pulpy mass OTT shows, every offering has its separate audience, she said. Kapoor, who was once branded 'czarina of Indian TV', said now the world is full of equality.

"There are enough audiences now because no longer does one content or one piece of art caters to the whole family or whole country. There's no homogeneity in content anymore. Therefore, there's no monopoly. There are many czarinas and czars. And once there are many, you are always on your feet."

The producer recently announced the sequel to her 2010 crime thriller "Love Sex aur Dhokha".

Asked which other film she would like to explore as a franchise, Kapoor said she would love to make a part two of "The Dirty Picture" (2011), which starred Vidya Balan.

"I feel there are still a lot of messy women who made a career out of people's judgement that I'd like to talk about. But I still haven't found that story. It's my most precious film, my most loved piece of art. That's one sequel I will take a break from everything else and make it."

Kapoor is backing a project with Akshay Kumar, which they will announce officially. There is also a film with Kartik Aaryan and Karan Johar, "The Crew", and Mohanlal's "Vrushabha", her first venture into south Indian cinema. 

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