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TV doesn't need stars!

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lakshmim_84

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lakshmim_84

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Posted: 07 September 2009 at 3:28am | IP Logged
TV doesn't need stars!
MUMBAI MIRROR 6 September 2009, 08:46am IST
 
Film stars may have short shelf lives, but TV is tougher. And actors are finding it tough to cope with the changed rules of the entertainment game. Lekha Menon reports...
 
 
Want to know what direction the draught is blowing in tellyland currently? A recent study on the most popular TV characters conducted in five cities - Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Indore - by Ormax Media, a research and consulting firm for media and entertainment industry, gives some interesting pointers:

Little Anandi (Balika Vadhu, Colors) was the most popular character across cities with a 16.8 per cent audience share.

Akshara (Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, Star Plus - 11.9 per cent), and Rajeev Khandelwal (Sach ka Saamna, Star Plus - 7 per cent), came next.

Rajeev was the overwhelming favourite for male audiences (15.8 per cent) beating Anandi to second spot (14.8 per cent). Among females, however, the child bride ruled the hearts (17.7 per cent).

Akashdeep (Iss Jungle Se Mujhe Bachao, Sony - 2.5 per cent), and Rakhi Sawant (Rakhi Ka Swayamwar, NDTV Imagine - 5.8 per cent), made it to the Top 10 favourite characters among male viewers.

The verdict is out: The old has given way to the new even as reality shows give dramas a run for their TRPs. In the last few months, names like Akshara, Laali (Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Hi Kijo), Sadhna (Bidaai), Dadisa (Balika Badhu) etc. have edged out icons like Tulsi, Parvati, Mr Bajaj, Jassi and Jai Walia. While a change of guard - be it in cinema or television - is always expected, the changed TV scenario has caused one big casualty - the superstar actor.

Film stars always had short shelf lives, but in TV, it appears, the going is tougher. Making it worse is the fact that more than the star it is the character he/she portrays who enjoys the real fame. So if the soap ends or the character is bumped off (with no hope of even a plastic surgery reincarnation), it spells the end of the road for the star as well. With sensation, controversy and fights (real or staged) being the new eyeball winners, no wonder a long list of names - Sakshi Tanwar, Rajiv Paul, Sangeeta Ghosh, Apurva Agnihotri, Amar Upadhyay, Bakhtyar Irani to give a few random examples - have been more or less faded in the last few months.

Young and younger
"TV has no such thing as a star now," says Shailesh Kapoor, director Ormax, analysing the trends revealed by the study. "Most viewers don't even know the real names of the actors. Unlike cinema, there is no craze about their personal lives either. Viewers are more interested in the character they play."

Ironically, while soaps, not so long ago, would take generation leaps and make 20-something actors sprout grey hair, the present buzzwords are "young, fresh faces". "TV is all about your image; if the image is too strong, it's all the more difficult to break them," says Sandeep Sickand, former Balaji creative head. "One can't be judgemental, but for new characters to create an impact, they have to be bigger than a Tulsi or a Mihir."

Which seems unlikely in the present scenario where suddenly channels have begun spouting the 'story' and 'concept' mantra, leaving the star far behind in the pecking order. Subsequently, increasingly new actors with no image or baggage (and tantrums) are being preferred to portray central characters. Most of the recent fiction shows on Sony, Colors and NDTV Imagine have newcomers in the lead.

Recession too has taken a toll on big budgets and salaries. A Smriti Irani, Sakshi Tanwar or Ronit Roy could demand upto Rs 40,000 or more per episode during the 'high' phase. But now the cost-conscious producer, whose only objective is to maximise profits in the given time-slot are turning to freshers who come for as less as Rs 5,000-Rs 10,000 per day.

Then there are other factors at work. Such as the popularity of the channel, the time slot, the promotional activities and so on for a role to be remembered. Little wonder that the space is getting increasingly crowded for the TV star, despite the proliferation of GECs (general entertainment channels).

Survival tactics
Naturally, out-of-work actors, say sources, are turning to other sources of income to keep the kitchen fires burning. Like turning party crowd pullers for a sum. A popular TV star who had participated in a dance show for couples two years ago, helped out a restaurateur friend pull in the glamour crowd for an event held recently. A senior programming executive of a leading GEC reveals how surprised she was to receive an SMS from a star offering some "commission" for a role in the next serial she was planning. "It was almost an open offer for a bribe. Their insecurity is shocking at times," she says.

Others try to stitch up relationships of conveniences. A recent marriage between two middle-level TV stars, say some, was more a plan to participate as a couple in the next season of Nach Baliye. "Often, big stars find it below their dignity to approach coordinators or casting agents. They try to send feelers to channel executives instead," says a source. Also, with their market value diminishing from the metros, small towns have become huge destinations for former stars to attend events as chief guests.

Some time back, when the going was good, a number of TV actors also tried to make the transition to cinema. But not everyone was lucky as Rajeev Khandelwal (who got noticed in Aamir). Case in point being the 'big' Dharmesh Darshan film Bhanwra, starring Manav Gohil, Sangeeta Ghosh, Eijaz Khan and Shweta Salve that has yet to see the light of day. Or Kkusum's Nausheen Ali Sardar whose Three released last Friday after a lot of delay, to bad reviews.

Good roles are hard to come by, whether in films or TV. But an actor will survive, it's the star who is bound by trappings - Smriti Irani

Going with the flow
Sweta Keswani, the delicious vamp of Des Mein Nikla Hoga Chand and Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii, who is now currently seen in Ba Bahu Aur Baby puts it candidly, "Accept it, fame is short-lived on TV. The ribbon-cutting offers have gone down! Out of sight is out of mind here."

Similarly Hiten Tejwani admits to missing the dizzying heights of fame he saw with Kkutumb and Kyunkii...a few years back. Currently seen in Palampur Estate and Kitni Mohabbat Hai, Hiten believes he was lucky to get his big breaks during boom time. "The scope is limited now; if you have a show on air, which has a decent role, that's good enough." While the talented Varun Badola says, "When I started acting, I used to replace top stars. So you have to be mentally prepared. At least there are a few serials with good characterisation these days. So a good actor will find a decent role."

But Ronit Roy, whose Bandini is one of the few soaps enjoying high ratings these days, brushes off the allegation that TV stars are out of work. "If you see TRP charts, drama shows are still on top. Basic emotions are the same, what has changed now is the packaging. Just make a mark in the shows you are doing and you'll never run short of roles. I have been lucky Ekta (Kapoor) has given me strong roles to play - Mr Bajaj, Mihir or even Bhishm Pitamah." But wasn't the last mentioned role in the flop Mahabharat? "Some things work, others don't," he shrugs. "But you can't deny the popularity of Mihir, Tulsi or Jai Walia even now. They are revisited even on YouTube."

Acting matters
Interestingly, for an industry that vouched by the speed with which production houses churned out serials, now swears by acting, script and sensibilities. TV's most famous bahu Smriti Irani believes there are "no icons today". "That's because it's the channels who define the programme, not the actors. Good roles are hard to come by, whether in TV or films. But an actor will survive, it's the star who is bound by those trappings," she says.

Survival game
Ultimately, what sets an actor for a long innings on television is reinvention and multi-tasking. Ashvini Yardi, programming head, Colors says, "In TV, the channel will always define the parameters. There's a whole strategy involved behind the success of a show where concept, character, brand positioning etc matters and then comes casting. But actors need not be one-serial wonders. The minute they get something strong, they should build on that. Public memory is short but they will accept an actor in new roles."

Sickand advises stars to not look at TV as an "office job" - where you do your work, collect the cheque and pay your EMI. "Look at it as a creative profession. For this is a transition phase where actually quality work is happening."

Actors themselves advocate the "acceptance" mantra. As Sweta quips, "In my two year-stint as a vamp, I did everything there was to do. Kill people, make the lead pair's lives miserable ... Thankfully then I discovered my passion for photography and painting. So branching out, doing new things and travelling has helped me remain grounded. The higher you go, the more sorted you need to be. Why mope over non-happening roles?"

Easier said than done maybe. But there's hope. When the juicy roles in never-ending soaps dry up, there's always the odd game show, anchoring or judging stint and theatre to turn to.
 
 
 
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maggie131984AreYaar

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aish_punk

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Posted: 07 September 2009 at 3:30am | IP Logged
Wow!..tats kewl..i'm glad Anandi is so popular..n even Dadisa..!

RockChicGirl

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Posted: 07 September 2009 at 3:55am | IP Logged
the article also means that maybe in a couple of years we will be saying avika...who?

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AreYaar

disha_sen

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disha_sen

Joined: 19 April 2009

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Posted: 08 September 2009 at 11:00am | IP Logged
Originally posted by kshreya2002

the article also means that maybe in a couple of years we will be saying avika...who?
 
heheLOLLOL

zorrro

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zorrro

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Posted: 10 September 2009 at 3:58am | IP Logged
Hey we still have TV stars likre rajat tokas who played the young prithviraj & veer in dharamveer. He is still very popular long after his serial ended. lot of interest amongst fans about his personal life too ...

RockChicGirl

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RockChicGirl

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Posted: 10 September 2009 at 4:46am | IP Logged
yep thats true...but he's still sitting at home preparing for bollywood where getting a break is really tough for a guy not from a filmi family.
instead i wud have preferred to see rajat in more serials like jai shri krishna where the grown up krishna is of the same age as rajat but a new face. wudnt it be great to have rajat there. this actor somehow doesnt work for me.

snowwhite30

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snowwhite30

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Posts: 3481

Posted: 10 September 2009 at 8:52am | IP Logged
thanks for d article.........

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