Years may have passed since they last appeared on screen, but some television characters are still fresh in public memory. They have become iconic and we remember them only by their screen names.
Here are some examples: Khopdi (Nukkad), Basesar, Nanhe and Chhutki (Hum Log) and Lajoji (Buniyaad) in the 80s'; Mihir and TulsiVirani ( Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi), Parvati (Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii) and Prerna and Rishabh Bajaj (Kasautii Zindagii Kay) in the recent past. "Even after a decade, people still call me Mihir Virani," says Amar Upadhyay, who played the role. But how many telly characters today have made such an impact? Well, not many.
Samir Soni may be a popular face, particularly after his appearance on Bigg Boss last season, but his character, Kunal, in Parichay Nayee Zindagi Kay Sapno Ka, hasn't established an identity even after a year. "These days, we have more drama-driven shows rather than character-driven ones. One fine day, there is a 20-year time leap, but even the clothes do not change. Anything happens. The mother looks younger than the daughter. The audience can't relate to such characters and forget their names," says Samir.
Agrees producer Rajan Shahi, "In most cases, the characters, their looks, acting style and costumes are similar. When you cannot differentiate, there is no recall value. Today, we don't discuss characters." Anas Rashid, who plays Sooraj in Diya Aur Baati Hum, says, "We are killing characters to generate TRPs. Iconic characters on TV are dead."
Producer Ekta Kapoor blames superficial characters for the problem. "My earlier shows like Kyunki... and Kahaani...had a lot of drama, but people still remembered the characters. These days, the characters are usually superficial. Also, the shows don't run very long," she says. "Today, there are many channels and shows. When they see Samir in Parichay..., they identify him with Bigg Boss. After Manav and Archana in Pavitra Rishta, none of Ekta's characters became popular," says Anas.
According to Rajan, characters played by actors who debut in landmark shows become popular as they don't carry any baggage. "Parul Chauhan and Sara Khan became popular as Ragini andSadhana, respectively, their characters' names in Sapna Babul Ka Bidaai. Mona Singh is identified as Jassi from Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin, though she did many shows after that," he says."It was easy for me to replace Mohnish Behl with Sharad Kelkar in Kuch Toh Log Kahenge,because the character of Dr Ashutosh was larger than the actor," he adds.
Larger-than-life characters are more memorable, says actress Sakshi Tanwar, who played Parvati in Kahaani... and currently plays Priya in Bade Achhe Laggte Hain. "The attention an actor got from a single character is divided now — the same actor can be seen in reality shows and various news-based programmes. This makes the audience get to know the actor as a person. This was not possible 10 years ago, when actors had to make public appearances in their screen avatars. Once, when I was playing Parvati, I went out in a T-shirt and jeans and people were shocked. But this time, I visited Lalbaug Ganpati as Sakshi and not Priya Kapoor (her character in Bade...)," says Sakshi.