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20 years of Balaji Telefilms’ dominance

Thakur

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MUMBAI: “My company works on two
principles. One, nothing is bigger than the
programme, not even the company. Two, if
you believe in me and really want to share my
goal and vision, please join me; else don't
show me your face. I have never told this to
anybody before, but seriously, the company
needs an attitude. No company which does not
have an attitude can ever be successful,” are
the words of the woman who turned the small
screen into big!
India's largest fiction TV producer Balaji
Telefilms which redefined Indian television
and made Ekta Kapoor a household name can
be credited for the satellite boom in the
country as well.
Like many of her counterparts, she too started
her career very young. From being just
yesteryear’s superstar Jeetendra’s daughter,
today Ekta Kapoor is the woman who rules the
hearts and the minds of many. She started off
at 17 and since then, has loved, eaten and
slept only television. Always thinking about
concepts, casting, styling, selecting technicians,
shooting and scheduling, marketing and
acquiring the new skills required to succeed.
Set up in 1994, the powerhouse has completed
20 years of entertainment. It all started with a
comedy show on Zee TV, ‘Hum Paanch’, in
1995 and today it has an array of shows to its
name.
Satellite television began in the early nineties
with the launch of Zee TV, followed by Sony
Entertainment Television later in the decade
and finally Star Plus as the millenium ended. It
wouldn’t be unreasonable to say her TV shows
have played a pivotal role in each one of their
successes at some time or the other. Even the
latest major entrant Colors - from Viacom18 -
is relying on her new show Meri Aashiqui Tum
Se Hi to give it an injection of TRPs. One after
the other, the production house has created
blockbusters on the small screen. ‘Kyunki Saas
Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’ and ‘Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki’
made everyone switch on to Star Plus every
night from 10pm to 11 pm; people cried and
laughed with the characters. So much so that
the death of the character Mihir Virani on
‘Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’ lead to fan
protest marches to bring back him back. The
shows also garnered unheard of TRPs for eight
long years.
Then, came another slew of superhit drama
series like ‘Kabhi Souten Kabhie Saheli’ (Star
Plus), ‘Kutumb’ (Sony), ‘Kuch Jhuki
Palkein’ (Sony) and ‘Kohi Apna Sa’ (Zee), ‘Kahin
To Hoga’ (Star Plus), ‘Kasautii Zindagi Kay’ (Star
Plus), ‘Kkusum’ (Sony) which took the company
miles ahead from its competitors.
Some of the company’s on-going popular
shows like ‘Jodha Akbar’ (Zee TV) ‘Bade Acche
Lagte Hai’ (Sony), ‘Pavitra Rishta’ (Zee TV), ‘Ye
Hain Mohobbatein’ (Star Plus), and ‘Kumkum
Bhagya’ (Zee TV) hold strong in their time
band.
Balaji, which possesses 23 modern sets and 37
editing suites in India, also helped enhance the
primetime slot on GECs.
The company has produced more than 15,000
hours of television content since its inception,
including content in Hindi, Tamil, Telegu,
Kannada and Malayalam.
Filmy business
If television dominance wasn’t enough, the
company soon entered the Indian motion
picture business in 2002.
Till 2009, the company through its wholly-
owned subsidiary, Balaji Motion Pictures , had
produced and/or acquired 12 films, including
hits like Bhool Bhulaiyaa and Sarkar Raj .
It set trends here as well when it co-produced
and distributed India's premiere digital film
Love, s#x aur Dhokha, released in March 2010
under its ALT Entertainment banner. The film
emerged as a sleeper hit receiving critical and
commercial acclaim from audiences,
worldwide.
The company continued the LSD success story
with its second production, Once Upon A Time
In Mumbaai, which broke ground at the
worldwide box office. Other films to its credit
are Kuku Mathur Ki Jhand Ho Gayi, Main Tera
Hero, Ragini MMS 2, Shaadi Ke Side Effects,
Once Upon A Time In Mumbai Dobaara, Kya
SuperKool Hai Hum, Dirty Picture and
Shootout at Lokhandwala.
With an impressive slate like that, she has
earned Balaji a position amongst the major
film studios in India.
Other ventures
But that hasn’t stopped her or the company
from venturing into other spaces.
Over the years, from a television content
provider, Balaji Telefilms has evolved into a
media conglomerate with organisational
divisions responsible for television, motion
pictures, internet and mobile.
Being the largest player in the industry and
after having creating larger-than-life
characters, it understands the skill sets
required to be successful.
Balaji Telefilms took an initiative to bridge the
gap between demand and supply of
professionals/actors, by launching its ICE
Institute of Creative Excellence. The institute
trains tomorrows’ players by teaching them the
various skills needed to make a career in the
Media and Entertainment industry.
What next for Ekta and Balaji? She is going
back to her roots: television. For the past
three to four years she has been absolutely
focused on making Balaji a force in the film
industry, leaving the running of the television
productions to mother Shobha Kapoor, Tanusri
Dasgupta, Ketan Gupta, among many other
professionals. But just last month she was
quite clear when she said: "I am a TV producer
who works 24 *7. It’s just that I am focusing
more on television as I am getting a chance to
explore myself.”
As one philosopher said: "Life is a journey, not
a destination." And for Balaji and Ekta, it
seems like a never ending dream journey.

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