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On Her Birthday, Ekta Kapoor Reveals Her Business Plan That Make Her Super Successful

  • IWB Post
  •  June 7, 2018

The media calls her the Undisputed Queen of Indian Television and we second them. With daily soaps that attract a huge audience and bold movie storylines challenging social barriers and taboos, Ekta is unquestionably a one-of-a-kind entrepreneur in the entertainment industry.

During a recent interview, she opened up about crucial matters like the future of digital entertainment in India, identifying a niche with serials like ‘Naagin’ for those who love folklore drama, and taking a financial risk with female-oriented films like ‘Veere Di Wedding.’

Excerpts below:

On venturing into the digital world with Alt Balaji

My learnings have been that we always imagined digital to be small, snacky and we imagined it to be only for the youth, which is a big myth. This huge digital world is for anyone with a smartphone who can access content. What was actually liberating and what our biggest learning was – we think people are of a certain type and that we can box them with a certain type of entertainment. There are 100s of stories that slip between movies and TV.

Movies need very big stars and so many times you can’t tell a story because you don’t have those stars. In television, you can’t do anything radical because you are reaching a million homes at the same time. This liberating medium that we got into made us realize that the ability to cater to polarised tastes only exists in this medium.

Fighting competitors like Amazon, Netflix, and Hotstar

Netflix is great, so is Amazon, but how much of an idea do they have of the local content? They have come in with big bucks, they have a great e-commerce business and Netflix has its set audience, but there is a whole world out there that doesn’t speak English. Ours is a homegrown app with a high understanding of the local taste. I definitely don’t give you what you are getting on TV, I am giving you something that you would never get on TV and it’s personalized taste programming.

Revealing her break-even point and business plan

Break even, according to our initial plan, was year 4. We aren’t looking to break even before that. We have a revenue model that is pretty decent. I can’t give you numbers but it’s been an overwhelming ride, let me put it that way.

On managing film production along with Alt Balaji

We are a company of limited resources, we do not have the financial backing of an international giant. We are not an Amazon, we are not a Netflix, this is the money we created out of selling our episodes on various TV channels. Luckily, we got a great investment to start the app, knowing that it is a business that will grow. At that time, to take such a high risk with movies was not on. Especially because we had a spate of flops, so our board did do a knuckle-rapping but we then have set up the app, it is doing well, we’ve got another set of investments from Reliance, we are not using any of this money to make anything but the business that we think will have the highest amount of scalability and valuation.

We previously had a bad year, 2 films back to back from the same producer being pirated – it never really happens. We were like the Titanic, we had everything go wrong. The only 2 films that don’t have a satellite or digital sale were the ones that were affected by piracy and it was terrible.

On taking a plunge and financial risk with a female-oriented film ‘Veere Di Wedding’

During the time when I was making Veere Di Wedding, I was pretty much down in the dumps financially, as far as movies go. TV was giving us enough to sustain, and we had just about raised money to make content for the app and I was to focus on making a big business out of it. I had already heard the script of Veere Di Wedding from Rhea Kapoor, it was lovely but for everyone it was a bad proposal because it was women, it was expensive at that time, so the question was why are you putting your finances out there for a film which is all about women and anyway you’ve given 6 flops and you’re again going to invest into something that doesn’t look like a sure shot hit. But the year where I thought I was making sure shot hits was the year everything went wrong, so I thought maybe I was making proposals and not films, so let me just take a creative call. But it got into a roadblock.

I remember my mom came to me and said, buy a car, you’ve been using the same car for years, and I told her – I want to buy a film, I don’t want to buy a car. I requested her saying that all these years you’ve backed my creativity, do it once more and we will make it financially viable, which luckily for me, my film team did. We have already sold Veere Di Wedding to Zee for a great price and now we only have a certain amount to cover. But at that time it was a big decision and my mother was like – if you are so sure about this, then we will go ahead with it. We will not jeopardize our investors, we will try to make it financially viable, we’ll do pre-sales far far earlier than otherwise. We won’t look at selling the film to make a profit but we’ll sell it at the right time and not make a loss. So I went ahead and picked up the film. I think it’s a sassy film. It may initially make you a little uncomfortable, but it later makes you live with the fact that women don’t have to be fitting in. That’s the beauty of this movie.

On tapping the interest of people with the TV show ‘Naagin’

We as Indians and even Americans in their own space love folklore. I would love to see a great typical love story in a typical world where there are a vampire and a woman and they are crazily in love, the bad boy just gets big teeth and he can kill you and he can love you. To me, ‘Naagin’ is a retro drama; it’s like a great film out of the 80s which we don’t make anymore. It brings to life India’s most famous shape-shifting folklore of a snake woman and it’s always about vendetta, so the story doesn’t get predictable ever because there is nothing that has to stem from logic or end at logic. No one picked up the idea, we did it.

h/t: The Quint

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