Idiot Box Scores…And How?

It was more or less expected. Those days are gone when a Bollywood star will look down upon telly stars as children of lesser god. The under privileged type!  But, not any more! Television has grown in stature. It is no longer a pale shadow of mainstream cinema. Today, TV stars boost a big image and are more popular than Bollywood biggies themselves. During the BR Chopra produced ‘Mahabharata’ days, Doordarshan recorded the maximum viewer ship and at 9 am on Sundays prime time slot, not a single soul was seen on the roads for an hour. Irrespective of all caste, creed and religion, people crowded around television sets and savored the dialogues knitted with ” Kintu, Parantus”,  the bejewelled male and female characters and the ambience of sets which were a visual treat!! But, still TV did not attract Bollywood.

It all started with a satellite TV channel called ‘Zee TV’ in 1993, and went on strongly attracting the Bollywood knights and damsels with Sony and Star TV, setting foot in Indian Air space.  The TV software companies had their imagination running riot. UTV, SAB TV, Balaji Films , Nimbus etc created new shows and were racing against each other to shoot up the TRP ratings for their respective shows and the TV star brigade were all also divided.  Dates went haywire. Continuity marred the serials with regards to ego hassles and star tantrums of TV stars and uncalled for infighting among them.  Mean while, Sridevi Madhuri, Hema Malini, Madhoo have already tried and have got the boot from TV. Yesteryears starlets, today’s failures like Reena Roy, Shoma Anand, Anita Raaj, Poonam Dhillon, etc. have embraced TV to a huge extent to see their kitchen fires burning!

Ekta Kapoor, the creative head of Balaji films struck upon a new idea.  She killed the characters in an accident or by sickness. She taught the serial producers, that no production house needs to bow down to telly stars’ whims and fancies.  Either kill the characters, or like the “Kyonki Saas Bhi kabhi Bahu Thi” show, She advertised in the show itself that Mihir Mirani’s role would be played by ‘Ronit Roy’ in future and not ‘Amar Upadhyay.’  That set the ball rolling. She showed the star who is the boss. Even though Amar’s ‘Mihir’ was very popular among the audience, especially females, still a stubborn Ekta did not relent.  She stuck to her guns. And she was right. Over a period of time, the audience forgot about Amar.  They welcomed the new ‘Mihir’ with open arms. The chemistry between Ronit Roy and the female lead Smriti Irani (Tulsi) was well received. Now, Amar was totally forgotten! Also, his movies, which can be counted on fingers, turned out to be astounding flops.  There was no go for Amar, but reconciled with Ekta.  So he fell to her feet and a beaming Ekta welcomed him, but could offer a miniscule role in the same serial.  No wonder she is called the TV Czarina by the media.

Ms. Ekta Kapoor, today, dictates terms to stars and advertisers alike. She started the pay roll system for Balaji stars. She herself works throughout the night.  A self confessed workaholic! She sits through the story sittings and supervises shoots.  Now, KSBKBT has taken a 200 years leap!!  Still, I have personally witnessed many a people dying to catch the next episode of the same.  Smriti is more popular as Tulsi.  She has become a demi-god for all women in India.  She can kill her tyrannical son, she can rule the house like a dictator ruling a nation, still the male, female folk in India and abroad watch it and discuss among themselves at functions.

Ekta used to run around with the pilot shoot cassette in one hand and her mobile in another hand to various producers’ office until her ‘Hum Paanch’ became a hit. Thanks to Zee’s Subhash Goel saab, she saw her dream of becoming a Telly producer true!  There was no looking back for her hence.  Jumping Jack’s daughter is really very courageous.  She has not studied any brands. She does not come from a business school, but has got business acumen like an opera house diamond merchant.  Her maternal uncle is Ramesh Sippy, the famous distributor. Shobha, Ekta’s mom, is his younger sister. Shobha Kapoor sits on the first floor with Ekta at Balaji studios in next to each other cabins.  They fight like cats and dogs, all for the sake of their shows!! Weird, isn’t it? But, Star Tv, Sony, Zee are all laughing all the way to their respective banks!!  She does not have a personal life of her own today.  The owl like life style has made her restless. Daily shows and their shoots have taken all the energy out of her.  In her own words, her mom used to worry about her in her childhood awfully.  When asked about her children’s future, Shobha would go like ” ??..Tushar will be a hero some day.., but I do not know about fatso(Ekta was a fat ugly duckling then!)?what she will be doing!  But, today the fatso has proved every one wrong.  She has become the TV Czarina whom every one admires and everyone hates as well!!

 Like Kalpana Lajmi, the Producer ?Director of ‘Rudaali, Daayra and recently released ‘Chingaari’ has already stated that she is going to produce her new movie and a TV show, based on her life itself.   Fat and beautiful woman!  Why are men not so keen to get into a relationship with cute, but fat women?  She is still wondering!  It is funny, but true.  She happens to be our great Guru Dutt’s neice.  She is yet to receive a love letter and also is waiting to be propositioned!!  Shedding kilos is a painful job and Ekta, ex WWF wrestler knows it well!!

Today, the reality shows like ‘Indian Idol, Sare- Ga- Ma, Laughter Challenge, etc. have actively gained audience participation.  The TRP wars are on.  More and more stars will jump onto TV shows.  The pay packet is extremely good.  There is no risk factor of losing credibility unlike a movie becoming a flop.  If the show fails, the responsibility is of the producer of the show.  The head of the production company is taken to task.  He or She will discontinue the show; the sponsoring Brands will pull out from the show, and the actors will have no bearing at all!  It is indeed good news for them.  No actor is carrying the show on his shoulders.  More and more Bollywood stars are queuing up at show producer’s doors.  The race is on??.Welcome idiot Box!!

Author: Donald DSilva- Mumbai