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"Smriti deserved a break": Ekta Kapoor

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Soap queen Ekta Kapoor takes yet another gamble with her long-running family drama on television -- Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi. Along with a format change, she has introduced a new character in the show to take the story forward. Here's what she had to say about her serial strategy.

You have got actor Ram Kapoor to play the role of J R Thukral, the new character in Kyunki. Is he here because his wife Gautami is in the show?
See, we generally make an outline of the story for a 100 episodes in advance. When we decided that we would switch to a different story altogether Thukral's character was born. All we needed to do was cast somebody suitable, someone with a strong persona. I brainstormed with Nivedita (Creative Head, Balaji) and worked out some spare dates for Ram since he is already there in Kasamh Se.

What kind of a character is Thukral?
Thukral is obsessed with cats. He is a man who believes in his instincts and completely taken up by himself. In his opening scene he has a dialogue where he says: "Why should I go to a hill station for cold weather when I can switch on the air conditioner in my room." So you see, there is a madness in this character which cannot be subdued or put at the back of one's mind. This character has the potential to be given a flamboyant exit from the show or can be killed later on to take the story forward. Ram's character will add 100 times more appeal to the show now and will take it ahead.

Did you ever think of casting a totally new face for Thukral?
There had to be a huge amount of credibility attached to such an over-the-top character. I needed a person who knows the fine art of presenting a character who is extremely edgy, slightly comic book stripish, yet not a caricature. So we selected Ram for it.

You had even said that for Smriti Z. Irani...
I'm still saying so. Smriti is still Tulsi for me. The day she wants to be back, my doors are open for her. I have been used to seeing her as Tulsi for the past seven years. I'm missing her too. Gautami had even called Smriti to tell her that the day she wants to step in, she would hand the baton back to her. Gautami is only securing Tulsi's place. Smriti has only taken a break due to genuine health problems which I do not want to talk about since it is personal to her. We had dinner and discussed things over. Even I thought that she deserved a break.

There were two other contenders for Tulsi's role. Why Gautami?
Actually Gautami was my only choice, but since she had some problems with dates, we had considered Poonam and Padmini as well. Ever since I had seen Gautami in Ghar Ek Mandir I had been asking her to work with us. It's after such a long time that she is finally doing that.

Gautami's character is not as strong as the Tulsi Smriti played..
Gautami is playing the Tulsi who has been suffering for months in an asylum. She had been severely tortured. So when she is back she is a little doubtful as to whether the family is going to accept her back or not. However, in the coming weeks you will see that Tulsi will teach the other bahus a lesson in her own way.

Was there a showdown between you and Smriti as reported?
I have not been on the sets of Kyunki for the past one year. I want to meet the reporter who had come up with such a report. Actually, it may not be the reporter's fault; it could have been some well-wisher of mine. Smriti had called me and said that she had been informed that we have had a fight (laughs). After that report, Smriti and I had given interviews to newspapers clarifying the situation. I don't understand why people do not see that.

Many things that you are showing in your shows are unacceptable to Indian culture.
Even we are trying to show in our serials that many things that are occurring in our society are not right. Our culture doesn't just mean wearing sarees and doing puja. Our culture teaches us to be extremely respectful to our grandparents and elders. I think I had to show the negative situations so that I could highlight the solutions for them.

The TRP of Kyunki seems to be dropping.
I'll tell you how TRPs are calculated. Suppose you have 100 people watching television at one time and 20 per cent are watching Kyunki, the serial gets a TRP of 20. Now the audience has increased, so today's TRP of 20 is more than the past year's TRP of 20. So ultimately, I have more viewers watching my show.

Read more about: ram kapoor, ekta kapoor, smriti
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