Ektaa Kapoor’s Reality CV


Ektaa Kapoor’s Reality CV

Presumption is a such a bad strategy when it comes to interviews. If one needed any reminder,it came with the moment soap queen,sop enthusiast Ektaa Kapoor walked into The Indian Express office last week. She was late. It was an Idea Exchange meeting and my colleagues,both senior and junior fretted and fumed in varying degrees that the agony of impatient guesswork lends to people.

Ektaa may be late but her reputation had arrived long back. An overweight Bollywood kid who morphed into Indian TV’s Tiger Miss,Jumping Jack Jeetendra’s spoilt daughter,an ogre at work,a raging,angry boss,a girl crazy about astrology,about Ks against names of her serials and A’s against her own name and then,her stupendous success. Few have done so much for what few of us call regression: women in big bindis,mangalsutras and glitzy saris playing violent,infectiously disabling kitchen politics.

So in walked Ektaa Kapoor. A quarter size compared to the ogre of presumptions we clung to about her; she looked enviably slim (saying enviable with slim is another presumption but let’s go on). She wore a non-descript top with trousers,rubbery looking platform heels and her hair slid down past her shoulders,nicely blow dried. I am glad I will never remember her for her clothes. She carried a tan-coloured Birkin bag and held it through the Idea Exchange like a baby deer. The lady was confident,cool,composed. She had perhaps played the act so many times that the ball was really in our court on how to interview her differently. You read the piece that came out of that Idea Exchange ( https://indianexpress.com/news/%E2%80%98TV-is-no-longer-exciting-because-I-have-done-all-that-I-had-to-do%E2%80%99/784110 ) while we debated after she left whether she was just extraordinarily smart or intelligent.

I carried the overlap of the two adjectives back home. Over my ritualistic Saturday evening single malt,I tried to encapsulate Ektaa Kapoor’s smartness vs. intelligence. Intelligence is compelling,it’s colour is dark grey,it doesn’t need a debate over it,it just comes and stares at you. You can’t look away from it. Ektaa was smart,not intelligent,I said a bit breathless by now,just the way you feel when a poor argument has spiked your drink.

Here,assess this for yourself. She apologised profusely and candidly for being late. She admitted to having a lot of issues in her life; weight just being one of them. She took on questions gamely,some even cockily and responded with a dusted sense of surety. She enacted a few anecdotes and brought a lurking sense of relief to the room which was chilly otherwise. I asked her why her characters didn’t have sex in the serials; why wasn’t there even a bra hanging somewhere to symbolically suggest a sexual dialogue between the two sexes? She answered with clarity,saying she believed that Indian households were not comfortable talking about sex.

Entertainment was aspirational she felt and what she had doled out was aspiration (those few of us who had gone to town feeling intelligent when we had critiqued her regression could chew our nails for all she cared). Some criticism hurt,she agreed,but she had learnt to move on. She had caught the pulse of the nation,if it was saris and bindis stirred in family intrigue,why should we from the Indian women’s intelligent press corps argue?

I liked Ektaa Kapoor’s strategic smartness after the first five minutes. Those first five minutes,I blame on the set of presumptions that I had carried,exactly as she carried her Birkin. I let my presumptions glide to the floor,even as she held on to her bag. She looked me straight in the eye when I asked her about her diamond and platform heels. Shouldn’t she be wearing stilletos with all those diamonds I asked? “I do not conform,” she responded,and even more candidly added,“The diamonds are for astrology; the platform heels are for comfort. I am not a fashion victim.”

For all her smart answers,go back again to her interview but her most intelligent insight? Here it is: “I still have the pulse of the TV serials,but I no longer have the passion to watch them myself. My serials do not interest me anymore.”

Candidness,even if rehearsed is a rare talent; weight loss (which means serious focus and discipline) is no light issue either. Then there is her empire,her money,her Ks,A’s,LSDs and MMSs,a shrill vocabulary of success. “After all that,who are we to say that she is smart,not intelligent?” a friend asked me that Saturday evening,suggesting I pack my argument and have another drink instead.