Television czarina Ekta Kapoor, famous for her 1,000 plus episodes series like Kyunki... Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi and Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii, has now shifted her focus to web series. She's become one of the biggest players in the instant streaming service with the launch of ALT-Balaji.
Ekta Kapoor speaks to Firstpost about her future plans, “I want to tell lot of stories which I couldn’t have done on television through my shows. TV was getting more and more mass-oriented. Indian audiences in smaller towns are the new adopters of TV and they are consuming the maximum hours of television viewing, so they become the bigger audience. But what does the urban mass watch? There is nothing for them.”
She continues, “Family viewing is great. Films are a community-viewing experience but it gets expensive with Rs 200 ticket price and investing four hours on a weekend. Also, movie-watching is more of an outing than the consumption of content. Seventy per cent of the audience speak Hindi but there is no Hindi content for them. Not everybody is into Netflix. I wanted to tell stories which were individual for the urban audience. Everybody has a smart phone now.”
She further adds, “In a way, it is a natural step for me to get into web series, but there was lot of work involved. I had to get the investment, I had to understand the time holding power. We made the business plan, we worked out how many subscribers we would need, how much programming is out there for people to subscribe and we went for the road shows in 2015. I was out for almost three months in that year to raise finances and finally I got the money."
It appears that her confidence has got boosted with the “overwhelming” response to her recently launched web series, Romil and Jugal – a modern gay take on Romeo-Juliet.
“I was shocked with the response. The whole community sent us a bouquet along with a note. There are so many films, so many television shows, so many references of the gay community, and I don’t think they have ever been so appreciative. It doesn’t have to be about same sex or opposite sex, it is about emotion,” says Ekta, who so far has come out with six web series and also plans to produce a historical, “in my own way that the net audience would like”.
“I have done folklores with Naagin and Brahmarakshas. I am doing another folklore with Chandrakanta, I am doing historical for television and net as well,” she says, further adding, “I am enjoying the space I am in. I make mass stories on television and the relatability of urban stories which I could never tell, in the digital space.”
Explaining the scope for earning profits in her new business venture, Ekta says, “Profits will only come when we have a certain number of subscribers. But it has been a great response and we are surprised to have developed so many subscribers. We have to further build it up and give that much content so that in a year’s time when we have got 42 shows paying Rs 60 to Rs 70 a month, we would know the volume of subscription. Initially, one has to pay Rs 300 which again is not much, it is the cost of a coffee, but then, we have to give that kind of entertainment. We have worked on full finances and it will be an absolute profitable venture in three years but till then probably we have to raise the money and invest on our own.”
For her web series, Ekta's working with some of her trusted actors from television, for instance, Sakshi Tanwar and Ram Kapoor for Karle Tu Bhi Mohabbat. So how easy or difficult is it for Ekta to get good actors, writers and directors to work with her for digital?
“It is much easier getting actors for web series because it is committing for just 40 to days 60. They are not keen on daily soaps as they feel giving three years of their lives is like bonded labour. Actors who get regular work don’t mind TV soaps, but real talented actors prefer short term commitment. Even Sakshi (Tanwar) won’t agree to do TV shows that will go on for a year. For the web series, I conned her saying that I need her just for 40 days and she was on. Also, I am getting to meet better writers than me. I can either fight them or I can learn from them. You take the situation and turn it into your favour,” says Ekta, who has now decided to leave her television shows to her team.
“I have left TV largely to my team, they are doing better job than me,” says the multi-tasker and a self confessed schizophrenic. “But whenever I am needed, I contribute to TV shows and I enjoy that, too. I think I am almost schizophrenic. I get up in the morning and start with television and then go on to digital. We released Naagin (that rules the TRP charts) and Udta Punjab the same year and people wondered how could we think such dramatically opposite themes simultaneously and I am proud of both. It is very tough to make something that half of India likes,” she says.
Published Date: May 03, 2017 07:50 pm | Updated Date: May 03, 2017 07:50 pm