Have TV actors broken the Bollywood jinx?
Purva Desai, TNN | Apr 5, 2013, 02.08 PM IST
Have TV actors finally broken the Bollywood jinx? While there are big names like Shahrukh Khan, Vidya Balan, Ayushmann Khurana, Sushant Singh Rajput, Irrfan Khan and Prachi Desai who have managed to do that, does this hold true for many and all or only for a select few? Films like Udaan, Student of the Year and the recent hit Kai Po Che have proven that there are no barriers or career limitations for TV actors. But do they get a fair chance and equal exposure or are they seen only in cameo appearances?
Actor Ram Kapoor of Bade Achhe Lagte Hain fame, who has played diverse roles in films like Student of The Year, Agent Vinod, Udaan and Mere Dad Ki Maruti, is of a different opinion. "I take a lot of projects that other actors may not take. That's because I love challenges. People would ask me why cameo roles in films when I was playing great characters on TV. It's because I did a small role in Ek Main Aur Ek Tu, Karan Johar offered me Student of The Year. Besides, you don't get to experiment much with roles on TV. Look at Irrfan Khan. He started with television and then took a sabbatical. He started with smaller roles and see where he is today!" says Ram Kapoor.
Mona Singh played a key role in Raju Hirani's 3 Idiots as Kareena Kapoor's older sister. Although it was a significant role, she has not been seen in films after that. And why limit her to playing the sister only? Renuka Shahane too played a pivotal role in Hum Aapke Hain Kaun for which she got noticed. But a career in films was not the same as Television in terms of fame, reach and recognition.
Sayantani Ghosh has popular serials to her name including Kumkum, Mrs. Kaushik Ki Paanch Bahuein and Naaginn. She was also recently seen doing an item number in Sajid Nadiadwala's Himmatwala. But what's next for her? Even Leena Jumani who played Mala in Kairi — Rishta Khatta Meetha, debuted in Himmatwala as Ajay Devgn's sister. But this again was a short role.
While many actors do not categorize themselves as TV actors who are doing films, the distinction seems to be there. Moreover, how many survive and thrive in Bollywood? Are TV actors as successful on the big screen as they are on TV and do they match up to their Bollywood counterparts?
Sushant Singh Rajput as one of the lead protagonists in the super successful film Kai Po Che seems to have caught everyone's attention. But Sushant does not believe in distinguishing between the two mediums. "I've never looked at myself as a TV actor. I've done theatre for five years and television for two, so I just see myself as an actor. I dint know I was going to do films", says the actor.
Sushant's fellow actor from Kai Po Che, Amit Sadh has also been garnering very good responses and after a seven year struggle, he's bagged another film with UTV. He echoes Sushant's sentiment while giving full credit to his TV background. "I'm very proud of my background. Television gave me guts, money and it made me. Film makers don't categorize TV actors. They see us as talent and I'm just an actor and people should see us like that. We have great talent and why wait for someone to come from a specific background to be an actor. I think the perception about TV actors is changing in Bollywood. It's about talent", says Amit.
For Ayushmann Khurrana, another popular name on TV who started his career with MTV Roadies, the world's turned over post the success of Vicky Donor. Ayushmann dabbled in TV for a while before signing Vicky Donor. Describing his journey from TV to Bollywood, the actor states, "I'm glad that it has been a gradual transition from TV to cinema. It was not overnight success and that's what I like. Life has changes post Vicky Donor. People have started seeing me in a different light. Earlier they used to see me as someone coming from television. Cinema is huge in India and I'm glad that I'm getting the respect. I have broken perceptions but it's not just me. Even SRK and Vidya Balan have done that. All this doesn't matter".
Irrfan Khan believes that it all boils down to acting, irrespective of the person's background. "I came to be an actor in cinema. Though I didn't think I'd become one, I had a humble desire. I was fortunate enough to get a chance in cinema. There are no rules in the industry. You can be from any background. You should have the desire to do what you want to do", says Irrfan.
But is everyone that lucky? Amar Upadhyay at one time ruled the roost. He was a popular name on TV and a heartthrob for many. But he did not meet with the same fate in films. What Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi and Bigg Boss (5) did for his fame, even films could not do. Then there was Aamna Sharif, who catapulted to fame almost overnight as Kashish with Balaji Telefilms' Kahiin toh Hoga. But films like Aloo Chaat, Aao Wish Karein and Shakal Pe Mat Ja seemed to dampen her Bollywood aspirations. Says Aamna, "I have no regrets about the films I did. Experience teaches you a lot. I selected a few wrong projects but will be more careful from now on. It wasn't easy to shift from TV to films".
Same was the fate for Ragini Khanna seen in Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's Teen Thay Bhai. The film was a complete dud. Considering Ragini's popularity on TV, where does her film career take off from here remains to be seen. Hanif Hilal, who hails from the world of television, had no dialogues in Table No. 21. Says Hanif, "A silent character is interesting. I knew it was not about me. I have never had any experience in acting. My fame and recognition has been through TV and I don't know if I can put myself into that bracket because I have not done any soaps on television". Actor Ridheema Tiwari last seen in Sony TV's Love Marriage Ya Arranged Marriage, feels there is a distinction. "One requires a lot of patience for films. You have to wait a lot. There are many barriers in Bollywood and the industry has typical norms and you do get typecast as a TV actor. Though the trend is somewhat changing."
Raj Singh Arora, last seen in The Serial feels TV actors are judged. "People mentally judge you on your looks. I wish we had the western scenario where you audition, deliver and get selected. 4-5 years back, I was poisoned because of my TV background. No one wanted to touch me. Hats off to actors like Ronit Roy, Ram Kapoor, Rajeev Khandelwal and Sushant who have changed that mentality".
But what is it about the movies that lures everybody to it? Does a jump to Bollywood mean a goodbye to television?
Says Ram Kapoor, "The time has come to focus on films. Television has given me too much. I can never turn my back on it. It's just that the time has come for me to achieve in films. With television, I've already done that. Let's see how far I can go. A lot is happening in my life currently so I am trying to compartmentalize things".
For Rajeev Khandelwal, it's about experimenting and work satisfaction. "I work for acceptance and want to do roles that are more satisfying. Otherwise I wouldn't move from TV. I have just moved on in life. I'm the same actor who is experimenting".
Will the audience accept these actors on celluloid in the same manner? Will the equation and perceptions change or have they already changed? It still remains a topic of debate.
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