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Ekta Kapoor Shattering the Glass Ceiling From ruling television to films, business, and much more

By Puneet Kapani

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Ekta Kapoor

Ekta Kapoor has ruled the TV space for over two decades with the ever-so-famous "K"-initialed daily soaps. Her content on television has been cherished by generations and even criticized by some, but definitely never ignored. Ekta has never been shy to breach boundaries and break shackles to venture into territories that were never explored before. Her stepping into films and further taking the plunge into entrepreneurship has been no different!

Entrepreneur India talked about her content, businesses, and much more, and Ekta was candid with her opinions on each. Talking about ALT Balaji, being a female boss, and an entrepreneur here's what she has to say!

The Contrast in Television and Film content

Ekta talks about the contrast between her television content that is often termed regressive and her films that tend to be more modern. "It's not about television and films, regressive and progressive are just names given by people to typecast women. If you create women characters who wear a saree they call you regressive, if they wear a swimsuit then they call you modern. There's a term for every woman and those who use these terms, I call them judgemental," she said.

She emphasizes - "I really believe if you actually start reacting to every reaction, you will not have an internal journey with your content. I'm the only one who has been criticized for being sexual, progressive, and overtly out there and at the same time regressive and conservative. I can only be one of the two but people always will criticize and that's good." Being unphased by these adjectives, she takes criticism with irreverence.

Surviving the OTT Competition

In the age of Netflix and Amazon Prime, ALT Balaji has still managed to produce shows and novel content that has a vast audience base. She has a clear opinion on surviving competition with OTT platforms - "I would say every streaming platform has its own audience. In that way, ALT Balaji has found its own target audience. The content we show is closer to home and connects with the audience. Also, I have always believed that TV is meant for family viewing and OTT is for individual viewing. Hence OTT as a platform provides the freedom to push the boundaries and to explore bolder concepts."

Being a Woman Boss and her OWN Creative Individual

As a woman who runs an entire creative empire, Ekta Kapoor repels the idea of any gender influence in the kind of content her studio produces. "I green light content, not because it is specific gender-friendly, but only when it connects with everyone who is involved in making it. It can be a story about a man or a woman. As long as the character is living his/her life, going through his/her journey, telling his/her narrative, and has a story to share, I am good with it," she says.

Being a woman with strong opinions and a creative individual of her own, she has always challenged boundaries and brought innovation with her content. Ekta believes - "Creativity is not something that one can just get. In order to be 'creative', you have to keep reinventing and pushing yourself to cross all boundaries. I've never shied away from learning or even unlearning, for that matter. I make sure that pre-conceived notions don't hinder my process of intellect."

Business in COVID and accolades in Entrepreneurship

Talking about the backlash of COVID on business, Ekta believes that COVID-19 pushed digital consumption to a new level. "From the initial days of the lockdown, we displayed a high sense of proactiveness and foresight, in each of our endeavours and strategies. While consumer engagement, subscriptions, and watch time escalated substan­tially last year, one of the major content consumption trends that we witnessed was the digital adaptation from Bharat, in terms of entertainment consumption," she shared.

With big plans to expand in the future, her business always prioritizes teams. "Be it any platform of televi­sion, big screen, or digital, massifica­tion of content has been our primary goal from the beginning, and that shall see us lay further impetus towards the same. On ALTBalaji's front, we will focus on building a content catalogue that serves inclusive and individu­alistic viewing, for which, we have ramped our production machinery to create at least 40 shows a year. In terms of movies, we have a lineup of almost 4-5 films for this year. We have also launched Cult Movies - a new division under Balaji Telefilms that will produce edgier, unconventional, and clutter-breaking content," she says.

Ekta passionately feels her success is owed to her audiences - "I'm filled with nothing but gratitude for all the accolades and appreciation I've received for my work. All of the love from the audiences just fuels me to work harder."

Breaking barriers and shattering glass ceilings

From breaking barriers in the entertainment space to her business achievements in the past years, Ekta's experience has been one to look up to. She talks about her struggles as a female in the industry and how she preserved to breakthrough. "When I started the business, I was told that entertainment is a male-centric medium and women are the sidekicks who add only the glam quotient. I had to take my father along with me for the meetings so that people would take me seriously. Because back then, the concept of a mother-daughter duo running a production house was unheard," she recalls.

Ekta reminisces some tough lessons learned throughout her career. She says - "I learned the art of going against the tide, very early on in my life. And that is one of the reasons that Balaji Telefilms has always focused on putting out female narratives and has backed women-led stories. Whether it is through our television serials or movies or the OTT content, I am glad that we have often broken the barriers and finally, after years of constant efforts, the perspective is changing."

Puneet Kapani

Former Features Editor

Puneet Kapani, former features editor for Entrepreneur India, is self-driven and passionate about happenings and nuances of the world. She writes on lifestyle, gadgets, beauty, wellness, entertainment and technology updates around the globe. She has previously worked with L’Officiel India magazine, FHM Magazine and Times Internet. 

Catch a glimpse of her work at @PuneetKapani on LinkedIn and @puneetkapani on Instagram.

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