By Subhash K. Jha, Indo-Asian News Service
Mumbai, Oct 16 (IANS) "We got past the censors without a single cut," chuckles the irrepressible Ekta Kapoor about her latest film, "Koi Aap Sa". She calls it her most mature film to date.
She's also in the throes of four more serials including the much-missed "Hum Paanch".
"While 'Kya Kool Hain Hum' was targeted strictly at the youth market, 'Koi Aap Sa' aims at a more mellow market. It's the story of single parenthood, about two friends, played by Natassha and Dipannita Sharma, who bring up an illegitimate child born out of rape."
Ekta admits it's a bold subject.
"But not sensationalist. And you won't see the hero doing funny things to the cat this time," the TV tycoon laughs uproariously at the memory of her brother Tusshar's unmentionable antics in the inspiring company of Riteish Deshmukh in her previous film.
Why no Tusshar in "Koi Aap Sa"?
"Very frankly I'd love to have him in all my films. He's my brother and a good actor. But Tusshar could spare dates for only one film. And I preferred to have him do the naughty 'Kya Kool Hain Hum'. He hadn't done anything like it before. Aftab Shivdasani stepped into this one."
She is woman enough to admit big stars weren't willing to work with her after a series of feature film fiascos she fashioned.
"This was before 'Kya Kool...' became a surprise success. I may have been a name on TV. But I was a nobody in feature filmmaking. I guess it was my mom who got me out of my horror fixation. She gave me an ultimatum. If I insisted on making one more chiller I'd have to leave the house."
"Koi Aap Sa" is directed by Partho Mitra who directed many of Ekta's most important soaps.
"Like Santram and Anurag Basu, Partho is trained on television at Balajee Telefilms. He has an eye for detail and a very clear understanding of what he wants to do. He also understands the differences between the home medium and cinema."
Mom Shobha Kapoor is also openly opposed to Ekta's little fracas with her best-buddy Natassha who stars in "Koi Aap Sa".
"Yes, we fought like kids," Ekta grins sheepishly. "Natassha had been shooting 18 hours a day for our serials. After that when she was asked to do promotional interviews for 'Koi Aap Sa' she protested. I fired her, saying I worked round-the-clock. I sometimes forget my colleagues needn't and cannot match my unrealistic levels of workaholism."
To Ekta's surprise and, ahem, horror, her mom openly sided with Natassha.
"My mom fired me. She told me it was all my fault... Natassha and I have made up, though not entirely."
One difference of opinion Ekta isn't willing to iron out is regarding her film's second lead Himanshu Malik's grievance about his lack of publicity.
"What is he talking about? He was never promised anything. If you see the film Himanshu is just not one of the main characters. It's a three-character story and they are played by Aftab, Natassha and Dipannita."
More reconciliation ... this time with Rakhi Tandon, the enfant terrible in the serial "Hum Paanch". Apparently Raakhi gave Ekta hell during "Hum Paanch".
Laughs Ekta: "All that's part of the past. We're returning with 'Hum Paanch' and we felt no one but Rakhi could play her original role. In fact the entire cast is the same except Chutki who has grown up since we last saw the serial."
With the return of "Hum Paanch", Ekta's professional life seems to have come a full circle. "Yes, my first successful serial was 'Hum Paanch'. Now I'm back doing it. I hope it doesn't mean anything ominous."
About her series of parties recently, Ekta laughs: "We just had a couple of parties. But that's it. I'm certainly not turning into a party animal. My only passion in life is my work."