Roshni Olivera (BOMBAY TIMES; June 23, 2017)

It's a subject close to her heart and producer Ekta Kapoor has gone all out to make it gripping and visually attractive for the audiences. As her magnum opus Chandrakanta premieres on Colors tonight at 8 pm, the czarina speaks about her love for folklore, the new trend of seasons on TV and what makes her Chandrakanta so special. Excerpts:

This subject has been on your mind for a while. What is it about Chandrakanta that's so alluring?
I have always been excited about doing something which is related to Indian mythology or folklore. It was a natural step forward to do a show like Chandrakanta after Naagin. Chandrakanta is one of the most widely read books; every year, lakhs of copies are re-printed. It's ingrained in our psyche, so I definitely wanted to make this show.

And what better than to have it in the same time slot as Naagin 2?
Yes. India clearly has an appetite for folklore, so I wanted to take that forward and do another folklore, which again is as famous and as ingrained in our psyche as Naagin.

The story of Chandrakanta has been told in the past. Currently, another show on the same subject is on air. Does that bother you?
My story is very different from what aired in the past and what is airing at the moment. Along with the name Chandrakanta, what we we have adopted from the book is the world around it. But as far as the storyline goes, or the visual creation, the imaging and even the characterisation, it's very different. I have played up the folklore, but created my own storyline around it. The fact is that each one uses his creativity to build his own new world. I have built my own new world, the makers in the past built theirs and the producers of the current Chandrakanta have created their own world.

What do you think about the slowly emerging trend of seasons on Indian television?
I think it's great. Financially, it's quite tough on producers because you only have a certain number of episodes to make your turnaround happen. But on the creative side, it really works well because you have a start-to-finish storyline. You don't have to extend your storyline and you can give your audience an enriching experience instead of fake dramas. And if it works, you can always come back with another season in a few months, during which you have enough time to work on it. You are not time-bound here.

What can viewers expect from Chandrakanta?
It's this whole magical world. As kids, we used to hear about jaadu nagris; we heard stories from our dada-dadis. Then there were Vikram-Betaal tales, so it's in that space and world where you have flying carpets, where every other man is a magician. It's like the Indian version of Arabian Nights. Yahan story se zyada interesting would be the world that you create around it.

What is the USP of the characters Chandrakanta, Veerendra and Iravati?
Chandrakanta is spunky and there is not much difference between her and the girls of today. She is a go-getter, who sees positivity in life. Magic just happens when she is around, which happens with anyone who is a positive person. I would call her a retro creation of today's girl. Urvashi Dholakia plays Iravati, a queen who uses magic for all negative purposes. She only wears black on the show, and stands for everything that's dark. Veerendra, her son, is the balancing factor on the show. While everything is positive in Chandrakanta and everything negative in Iravati, Veerendra will have to walk a tightrope of not knowing what his mother is all about and yet, having to believe or wanting to believe the woman he loves (Chandrakanta). So, storywise, we have tried to contemporise it with modern-day dilemmas.

It's touted to be a grand show. Which are the aspects you've focussed on the most?
For television, it's the imagery that matters. It includes conversations, the language, the characterization and the colours. It's going to be something that you've never seen before.

You are busy with films and your web series. Are you able to personally look into your TV shows as well?
For me, it's very important that anything that carries my brand name has a certain amount of quality attached to it. I won't put it out with my name if I don't have the time or the bandwidth for any work that I do. Yes, I have a great team and they take it forward to the last point, but at that point, I do come in and give it what I call the final touches.