Ekta Kapoor may still be the queen of soaps on Indian television but her throne is showing a bit of wear and tear.
For long she has made news for her high-handed ways and has been accused of holding the strings of the television industry in her hands. However, there have been setbacks of late.
Channels have dropped a couple of her famed K-serials and other producers have shown signs of catching up, slowly but surely.
The current situation may be cause for concern for Ekta, though her production house is putting on a brave front. Falling TRPs To begin with, Star Plus, which was the main domain of Ekta’s K-serials, is planning to take Kavyanjali off air since its TRPs have been overtaken by Zee’s Saat Phere.
Sources claim that Ekta is looking for an extension, but Star Plus, for the time being, isn’t willing to indulge her. Balaji’s Kesar, on the same channel, too, is soon going to make its exit.
Balaji brushes off all this a tad too casually. “TRPs can show a little drop at times. But it is the channel’s call if they want to keep it on air or not. We cannot do anything about it,” says Nivedita Basu, creative director at Balaji. Voices of dissent Small screen actors earlier shied away from talking against Balaji, because of its clout.
Now, a few who have earlier worked with Ekta, are more willing to speak out about the way they were treated during their stint. Take what happened to Amarr Upadhyay, for instance. Although he was the star of Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, that did not spare him from the boss’ whims.
“It was the most humiliating experience of my life. I was also the main lead in Kalash (Star Plus) at that time.
One day I walked in for the shoot only to discover that I had been replaced. There was another actor doing my role right in front of me and no one even had the courtesy of informing me about it,” says Amarr.
The latest victim is Barkha Bisht. The actor had left the Balaji camp in order to play a lead in Rajshri Productions’ Pyaar Ke Do Naam - Ek Raadha Ek Shyaam. This did not go down too well with Ekta — although Barkha only played small roles in the K-serials — and she is now suing the actor for breach of contract.
Actors, however, say that Ekta herself feels free to ignore all contracts. As Apara Mehta points out, “I was under a two-year contract with Balaji when Ekta decided to kill Savita’s character. Then she didn’t think about any breach of contract. I had to abide by her decision.” The earlier ‘reverence’ seems to be missing.
Ekta has accused the media of spreading rumours about her domineering ways to malign her image. The revelations by these actors indicate that the internal strife on the sets of the K-serials is as damaging as any saas-bahu tussle. Rivals arise. Business, too, has not been as usual.
“Other production houses are catching up with Balaji. If this continues, then there could be a new leader at the end of this year,” says Ashish Kaul, senior VP, Zee Network. While it’s too early to write Ekta off, one thing is clear — for as long as it takes for Balaji to bounce back — there’s trouble in paradise.