'There's something quite fantastic about the limitlessness of Balaji Telefilms, about how defiantly they refuse to box themselves into a type.'
'If Kapoor sees something in a film, or an idea, she will ensure it reaches the most eyeballs -- by any means necessary.'
Raja Sen decodes Ekta Kapoor.
Most producers have a type. Some make romances, some specialise in action movies, some make sleazy horror for a quick buck, some work on buddy comedies. They identify a market, find their audience, and develop a system of catering to their crowd.
It is a situation beneficial to audiences and filmmakers because they know what to expect from the banner, and to the producer because they have a system in place for making and marketing a certain kind of movie.
Most producers are not Ekta Kapoor.
In the last decade, Kapoor has supported the most bizarrely eclectic cross-section of cinema, supporting directors as varied as Dibakar Banerjee and Milan Luthria (for Love Sex Aur Dhokha and Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai.)
She has flown the indie flag with movies like Shor In The City and Ragini MMS, but constantly alternated these films with giant hyper-commercial releases like Ek Villain and Shootout At Wadala. Anything, it appears, goes. (Yes, even in terms of quality.)
There's something quite fantastic about the limitlessness of Balaji Telefilms, about how defiantly they refuse to box themselves into a type. Just this year, they funded the hideous Azhar and the sensational Udta Punjab, and up next is the decidedly bizarre Tiger Shroff starrer, A Flying Jatt.
'People thought I only knew about sarees and jewellery and high-power dramas. They assumed I'd make only those kinds of films,' Kapoor told Filmfare.
'I knew I wouldn't be taken seriously. So I joined hands with someone like the talented Dibakar Banerjee for Love Sex Aur Dhokha. Also, this place is full of 'the big boys club.' All actors belong to a 'clique.' A new person has problems getting in. I had no clue how I'd manage. I approached many actors and they were patronising, like "Of course, you should do films." They were encouraging but no one actually said yes to a film.'
One of the ways Kapoor broke up the 'big boys club' sensibility she mentions is by walking the talk and making sure Balaji Telefilms brought a different level of professionalism to first television and then film productions.
Balaji remains a massive creative gateway for young people to enter the industry, a company that makes them work enormously hard but is uniquely applauded in the business for being a company that pays well, and on time.
Say what you will of Kapoor's long-running soaps, but they upped the bar in terms of television production and professionalism.
Now, as a producer who is game for absolutely anything, Kapoor enjoys a unique position at a time when so many bright talents are trying to get off the ground. Her style has been criticised by those who have worked with her as fascistic and overbearing, and while she may not be the kind of producer who lets directors do their own thing without creative interference, she is also not the kind of producer who will let a film die.
If Kapoor sees something in a film, or an idea, she will ensure it reaches the most eyeballs -- by any means necessary.
Kapoor's next productions include Mohit Suri's Half-Girlfriend, Tigmanshu Dhulia's Milan Talkies, Anurag Singh's Super Singh and Shashanka Ghosh's Veere Di Wedding.
Sure, there's a chance none of these films will actually be good -- but even from the titles its clear that they are certainly going to be drastically different from each other.
You can say many things about Kapoor -- and the buzz in the industry is venomous enough to guarantee she's ticking people off -- but the fact is that she gets results, and she gets them by tearing up the conventional rule book. This we must applaud, for it is fascinating to watch a leader who refuses to play it safe.