It’s Saturday, and Hindustan Times’ No TV day. And how does India’s famous soap queen, Ekta Kapoor, plan to spend her day? As she puts it, “I actually don’t watch TV anyway.” For work and leisure, she watches a lot of American shows.
“But my father (Jeetendra) is a television buff. He likes to watch news in the morning, my mother likes her soaps and my brother watches music channels. So at any given time of the day, we have three separate mediums of entertainment going on in our house, but through this one television,” she insists, before listing her favourite shows, “I love Brothers And Sisters, Mad Men, One Tree Hill, Gossip Girl, and Two Brothers.”
So how does someone who produces so much content for TV channels manage to do so without watching it? “I understand the medium. I do watch some of my own shows, because it’s my form of entertainment and it appeals to the audience that we cater to. It’s clearly not for me, but it’s meant for the Indian mass viewer, who likes simple, sweet, entertaining programming. They like watching traditional and rural issues. Television caters to a different India. Though we, as viewers, form a small proportion, we have to have the intelligence and understanding of the rest of the country, because that’s how we can cater to them,” she says.
HT’s No TV campaign has got wide support from every section of society in the city. In such a scenario, what happens to Ekta’s Balaji Films if people just stop watching TV, given a hypothetical scenario of course? “If that happens, I’ll be personally coming to your office for a job. You will have to feed the rest of us too. And since just 20 per cent of the entertainment business is films and rest is TV, we would have a lot of unemployed people in the country. In Balaji itself, we would have a lot of very rich unemployed people,” she jokes.
But does she feel the average housewife would get past her day without a dose of daily drama? “I don’t think so and No TV day is on a Saturday, so none of the main TV soaps would be affected,” says Ekta, adding that on any other day, soaps just tell stories. “It’s like peeping in to somebody else’s home. It’s actually very voyeuristic and housewives love that. Most soaps are made in a way that make viewers want to watch them the next day. They are character-driven and are like a slow addiction. I don’t think women can stay away from TV, because of the writing that’s involved. It’s sticky content.”