Ekta Kapoor, the television mogul and ace producer, turns 46 on Monday (June 7). The boss lady is known for breaking many barriers and ruling the television industry for over two decades. Ekta has also demonstrated her abilities as a film and OTT show producer. This, however, was not her original plan. In an interview, she admitted that she wanted to marry at the age of 22 and “live a very mediocre life.”
“When I was 17, my father [yesteryears actor Jeetendra] told me that instead of partying like I wanted, I should get married or work. He told me that I would only get pocket money and that I should work for an ad agency to supplement my income. I was perfectly content with my situation, believing that I would live a mediocre life, marry at the age of 22, and settle down to a life of leisure. “Unfortunately, or fortunately, nothing we plan ever comes to fruition,” Ekta tells Outlook Business.
Hum Paanch aired when Ekta was just 19 years old
Jeetendra Kapoor, Ekta Kapoor’s father and veteran actor, was approached by his friend Ketan Somaia about developing software for the London-based channel TV Asia. This task was assigned to Ekta, a young woman. However, the company was sold to Zee Channel before she could sell the software. “I made the decision to create five or six pilots based on the concepts I had in mind. Meanwhile, Zee TV purchased the channel. Here I was, trying to sell software that no one wanted to buy, and our partnership had crumbled. We had lost everything and were down to our last Rs. 2 lakh. I decided to film the pilot for the show Hum Paanch and sell it to Zee. “It was on the air by the time I was 19,” Ekta explains.
The show was an instant hit and helped Ekta taste success for the first time.
‘I married television’
Ekta fell in love with the production business once she got started, and there was no turning back. “I began to enjoy production. Some shows made a lot of money, while others did not. However, once I began to enjoy the challenges, I became obsessed with production. I ate, drank, slept, and fell in love with television. It wasn’t for the money; I was just pleased with the content I was producing,”m explains the boss lady.
‘When Rajinikanth calls, people listen’
Early in her career, Ekta Kapoor decided to take her show to the South, but she recalled encountering stiff opposition from the local industry. “When we (Ekta Kapoor and Jeetendra) met him (Rajnikanth) at a party, he told my father that I was very bright and would go far. When I went to Tamil Nadu for a slot, I discovered that there was a bias against north Indians, making it extremely difficult for me to get the slot. But when Rajinikanth calls, people pay attention,” Ekta explains.
Her show Kudumbbam was an instant hit in the South and was later remade in Hindi as ‘Ghar Ek Mandir’ in 1999.
Ekta Kapoor’s mentors
Ekta Kapoor intends to give back to society and mentor others, just as she was guided and supported when she was younger.
“I’m sure people saw something special in me and became mentors to me. People like Makarand Adhikari and Rajinikanth have been instrumental in my success. Sameer Nair and Uday Shankar, who gave me the opportunity to return to Star; Subhash Chandra, who gave me Pavitra Rishta in 2009 when I didn’t believe in myself… there are so many people I could thank. Giving back entails mentoring. Give it a shot if you see a spark,” says Ekta.