Joined: 06 May 2012
In the last few years, there have been plenty of cases where actors have had to quit their daily soaps because their channels weren't allowing them to participate on a rival channel's reality show.The GEC (general entertainment channel) that airs an actor's show stakes claim on them, but after a certain point, actors want to move on and experiment.So, are exclusivity contracts a hindrance to an actor's growth? We speak to pro ducers and actors to decode what signing an exclusivity contract means in the industry .
THE EXCLUSIVITY CLAUSE CAME AFTER THE GIAA MANEK INCIDENT
Giaa Manek, who played the docile Gopi bahu in Saath Nibhaana Saathiya, was shown the door after she opted to do Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa because the channel felt that her bahu image would be affected if she was seen on a dance show. In order to ensure that such incidents don't happen again, many producers started including the 'exclusivity' clause in their contract, which necessitates that till the time the show is on air, the actor will stay committed to the show and not take up any other assignments. An actor, who did not wish to be named, tells us, "The character of Gopi bahu had given Giaa an identity . But on Jhalak, she was seen wearing western outfits and dancing to Bollywood numbers. The producers didn't want a situation to arise where people would stop relating to her character, that's why they replaced her. After the incident, several producers started including the exclusivity clause in their contracts.If you look at the participants on reality shows, you can see that most reality shows have those actors who're currently not busy with another show. But the exclusivity clause doesn't prohibit channels from using their own actors to participate in their nonfiction shows."
EVEN PRODUCERS, WRITERS HAVE TO SIGN EXCLUSIVITY CONTRACTS
Industry insiders say that nowadays, even writers, directors and producers have to sign exclusivity contracts. A senior official from a leading GEC says, "For actors, there are several dos and don'ts that come with the contract.Such as if an actor is hosting a show that talks about having faith in God, he cannot go and sign a mythological show on a rival channel, because that would mean that the other channel is trying to take advantage of his already established status. Also, he cannot do a show that negates superstition on any other channel, because that would be going against his image. Nowadays, channels even get new producers and writers, who are coming on board with them, to sign exclusivity contracts."
ACTORS SHOULD BE MORE CAREFUL WHILE SIGNING CONTRACTS
Last year, Divyanka Tripathi had to forego Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa because she was in an exclusive contract with her channel. The actress, who plays the lead role in Yeh Hai Mohabbatein, says, "We have to be very careful when we sign a contract. Sometimes, out of desperation, when there is no work between shows, actors sign contracts without reading them properly. But if you're still not convinced about any of the clauses, you shouldn't sign them. We should get more used to the corporate side of this industry . Actors are paid more handsomely when they sign an exclusivity contract, but they need to gauge whether the amount they are being offered for not taking up other work, is enough. Some actors, like me, are already established. So when we do a show, we bring our own fan fol lowing. The same clauses cannot be applicable to all actors. I've had to leave reality shows, but I don't regret my decision. At times, producers have to be flexible with their actors. That's be cause sometimes, when ac tors sign contracts initially , the channel on which the show will air is not fixed, the time slot is uncertain, and one doesn't know how popular the show will become. One doesn't know what kind of profits the show will be earning. If the show is ending within a year, it's fine if you get a 5-10% increment, but if the show is gaining unprecedented popularity , the actors have to be reimbursed accordingly ."
CONTRACT CLAUSES DEPEND ON THE ACTOR'S STATUS
Karan Kundra, who is working on Roadies and Yeh Kahaan Aa Gaye Hum simultaneously , says, "Let's say you get a reasonably famous actor to do a show for your channel. The minimum money the channel would be spending on promoting the show can be anywhere between '4-5crore. There will be billboards in India and abroad, and a lot of PR work is done from the channel's side. They start building a character and the actor becomes famous. That's why the channel wants to have an exclusivity contract, so that the money , effort and time spent is tak the money , effort and time spent is taken seriously . These contracts are a norm in the industry , especially for daily soaps. So, if I am doing a youth show like Roadies, it means I cannot do another youth show on a competing channel. But that doesn't mean I can't do a daily soap with a channel that's not in direct competition. When I do a daily soap, that means that I won't do a daily soap on another channel. For certain actors, you have to pay extra money if you sign them on exclusively . It all depends on your status in the industry . You can't be popular in the industry without the backing of these channels. The contracts I've signed this year don't have the exclusivity clause, but that doesn't mean I can throw my weight around. There are other things that need to be taken into consideration, like have you made the show popular, or has the show made you popular? If somone's playing a bahu on a show and has become popular only after playing that role, it's obvious that that person shouldn't breach the contract. But if an already established actress says that she's doing a reality show, she cannot be told that the show made her what she is. There are shows that have been going on for seven years, where the leads have been replaced three-four times. If the audience is drawn to the show because of the story , you can't say much.But if the audience is drawn to the show because of the actor, heshe can say , 'I'm not what I am because of your show!'"
UNETHICAL TO DO SHOWS ON DIFFERENT CHANNELS?
Vivian Dsena, who is currently seen on Khatron Ke Khiladi, says, "Personally , I find it less hassling if you're working for one producer and channel. I'd rather focus on one thing. Doing a fiction show on two channels is not possible, but if someone does it, I feel it's unethical, because someone has invested a lot of money in you. I think for fiction, exclusivity should be a mandate. When I was doing Madhubala Ek Ishq Ek Junoon, I was offered a non-fiction show on a rival channel, but I have this oldschool way of thinking of being loyal to the channel I'm working for. I had the option of doing that show, and there was a point when I was non-exclusive with the channel Madhubala was aired on, but my ethics came in. Being exclusive is not a hindrance, it all depends on how far you want to take it."
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