If you are on Twitter, or in general live on the internet, you wouldn’t have missed the fight between Youtube star Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg (popularly known as PewDiePie) and Ekta Kapoor, after the former watched and mocked a few scenes from Kasamh Se, one of the shows produced by Kapoor.
Kapoor lashed out at the Youtube star by comparing him to one of the junior artists that they hired when they tried to create Paris in Aarey (a suburb in Mumbai). Kapoor also went on to call him ignorant for mocking Indian popular culture. Twitter, as we all can guess, reacted. Some called her racist, some criticised her for turning this into a patriotic issue when it was not; but most went on a tweet binge to call Kapoor’s work trash and regressive; they called her money-minded and the destroyer of Indian TV and said she has no work ethic – and as is the norm on Twitter, based it on extensive research and thought.
Now let us think. Is Kapoor really trash, regressive, money-minded, the destroyer of Indian TV, breaker of chains and mother of dragons?
On paper, Kapoor and her mother started a publicly-listed company from scratch (yes, she is Jeetendra’s daughter and was born with a silver spoon, but she made this), shaped Indian TV into what it is today, has continued to rule it for more than 20 years, is one of the ONLY female producers in the country and has made films like Love Sex Aur Dhokha, Shootout at Lokhandwala, Once Upon a Time in Mumbai, The Dirty Picture, Lootera, Udta Punjab, and the upcoming Veere Di Wedding, amongst many others; and she started Alt, India’s biggest video-on-demand platform, which is streaming over 20 shows just over a year in. We can all agree that’s impressive.
But let’s go back to how ‘woke’ Twitter reacted. They have called out Indians for being ignorant about PewDiePie, but have chosen to remain ignorant about Ekta Kapoor themselves. It’s easy to be an armchair feminist in 280 characters, it’s MUCH harder to run a successful company.
The outrage on Twitter feels ignorant and selective. You can look for examples of strong women, or you can mock them if you are staring right at them. In a world which does it’s very best to cripple women emotionally, mentally and financially; where most women are not allowed to work, where female producers are usually wives and mothers, where there are such few stories about women in general, do you on Twitter find it easier to ridicule a success story rather than acknowledge it? Because you don’t like the content?
But dear woke millennial, when was the last time that you sat and actually saw the content properly? Or gave some thought to the fact that different kinds of content attracts different audiences? Have you ever acknowledged that maybe, just maybe, there’s a slight possibility that the audience for Naagin will not enjoy BoJack Horseman just because you enjoy it? Why are you so superior to the audience that diligently watches TV from 5:30 pm to 11:00 pm every night? If the stories and saris of Ishita, Akshara and Sandhya, don’t excite you, why are you mocking those who do care?
We can discuss how much effort it takes to shoot every single shot – the number of people behind every shot, the number of hours and days that the Indian TV industry puts in and the reach that TV has every single day of the week, but that is not what this is about. This is about your scorn, and your ignorance, and the fact that women have enough to fight against every day, without meeting the new woke 280-criteria. Oh, and let me add that Ekta Kapoor is a badass.
Jayanti Jha, 23, is a former TV producer, who is currently trying to navigate life in the capital with her cat, all the while reminiscing about Bandra. She tweets @JayantiJha7.