Ekta Kapoor on her love-hate relationship with the censors and the need for an adult slot on TV
She is known as the czarina of television and a bold filmmaker who loves pushing the envelope and dealing with subjects that most of her compatriots avoid. Ekta Kapoor’s Shaadi Ke Side Effects has just released while she has two more projects — Ragini MMS 2 and The Villain coming up. The women in her cinema are in stark contrast to her bahus in her TV shows. Like or hate her serials and films, Kapoor can hardly be ignored. Excerpts from an exclusive chat:
Why are the women so unconventional in your films?
The female character in Shaadi Ke Side Effects is probably the most conventional heroine we have got. She is an urban working woman, but very conventional in her thought process. In the past we had Paakhi in Lootera, who was shy and submissive, while Silk, a woman of the ’80s, was unabashed about her sexuality in The Dirty Picture. However, we don’t confine our women in conventionality as I have shown a lot of conventional women on television. In the films, I enjoy the flexibility to go beyond that.
You have often got into trouble with the Censor Board due to the bold content in your films. They must have caused financial setbacks?
I would like to say that we have a problem with sexuality in our country. The moment we see a woman showing a little bit of cleavage we want her to cover up. We don’t tell the man to stop staring at her. That is a big problem with our country. So, if a woman is dancing in a short skirt and is looking gorgeous, it does not mean it’s an invitation to physically assault her. If someone eve-teases her, they will say, “Ladki ne short skirt and low-cut blouse pehna tha isiliye aisa kiya.”
So this is a larger issue?
This mentality starts from the way we view our films to how we view our daughters. We straight away have a problem if the girl is showing her cleavage and allegations are made that her dance moments are provocative — for me that itself is a wrong statement. It clearly shows that you are not looking at sexuality and sexual crimes as two different things.
You are going to tell women what kind of clothes to wear. When are you going to tell the men to keep their hands in their pocket? The problem is that you are constantly taking the blame away from the perpetrators and putting it on the victim.
What do you suggest the Censor Board do about this?
I want to ask the Censor Board what problem do you have with sex. You should have a problem with sexual crime. If a movie shows a man running behind a woman and pulling her dupatta, stop that. If a woman is dancing in a low-cut blouse, don’t stop that as you are creating a mentality in the mind of the viewer that a woman should cover herself. We, as a country should not have a problem with two adults having any kind of consensual relationship.
Somebody once made a remark that ours is the only country when two people are stopped from kissing, but they don’t mind people defecating on the road. And that is also the problem as the Censor Board is encouraging a thinking that stops anything that shows a woman as sexual objects. This is also the reason we made The Dirty Picture, where the woman says that she’s okay with her sexuality, but you are not okay with her. I have no problem about my film being called bold or adult film, and you have the right to censor it. But when we are not going into your homes, why do you have a problem?
I have never made adult content for TV as a country we are not equipped enough to handle it right now.
Are you okay with an adult slot on television?
I think it is very important to have that slot. You should not show adult content during movie time. And even after 11 pm, there needs to be self censorship. These adult shows need not always have sexual content. Internationally too, people have to censor the TV content that they are watching.
You have done a lot of horror films. Has horror as a genre always attracted you?
I love horror. And trust me among all the genres, making a horror film is the most difficult. Your satellite rights are stuck overseas, sales suffer, but one does not have to think about all that while making cinema. It is a date movie and highly popular in America. People love to watch horror with sexual content. If a certain product does not get pre-sales, it does not mean we don’t make those films. I take the risk and use my good offices in distribution and satellite sales of the film or else, we will end up only making films with those seven stars, which will be the end of our careers. And to top it all, stars take all the money too.
The year 2013 was not really good for you...
It wasn’t really good for me professionally, but I think a year cannot be written off as bad based only on how you did professionally. It’s a part of my growing up. I made a serial like Jodhaa Akbar and went abroad to Harvard for a short course, which a lot of people felt was difficult, but I did it. I really don’t know how my films will fare this year, but I’m back doing shows with all the channels. I call it a giant leap after a gap of five years.
You have made a film on the subject of marriage, but you continue to remain single?
Marriage is an important institution and I completely believe in it, but that cannot be forced on you just because it’s the right time to get married. You have to find your mental space with the person you to share your life with. I have seen friends with horrible and good marriages, and I hope to have positive side effects of marriage.
So when do we get to hear the news from you?
When I do, I will scream out loud that I am getting married.