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Cruel Intentions

With long working hours and exclusive contracts,TV actors are always tied down. Is the industry too cruel and tough to its actors?

Rajan Shahi

Producer and Director

Unlike films where everyone needs a godfather to begin,TV gives maximum opportunities to fresh faces. The exposure that new actors get from TV,making them household names is unbelievable. Also,no one forces anyone to become an actor on TV shows. It’s always their personal choice.

And unlike films,where a lot of actors come trained at acting institutes,TV gets the highest share of newcomers minus any training. Even from my experience with multiple shows,I have seen people facing the camera for the first time during auditions. Still TV has groomed many new faces on the job,making them aware of the craft. I have trained many newcomers. Also,thanks to daily soaps and reality shows,people have started taking acting seriously.

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I think TV industry has been highly fair to the actors. Unlike films where non-payment has always been an issue,TV industry is much more organised and payment is always swift in most departments.

Every medium has its good and bad sides,and television,as a medium,is no different. I wouldn’t use cruel in this context. And I also do not agree that actors are being victimised on TV sets. Yes,there might be specific cases but that’s a thing of the past,when industry was learning the ropes of adapting to a condition of producing more and more daily soaps. But things have changed over the years. Now producers and the federation keep a check

on time limit and working conditions on the sets. We are more organised and professional

in our functioning.

We always have fixed working hours,such that longer shooting schedules are an exception to the rule. There’s always a method to the madness. And television is a goldmine of creative freedom that can reach every household in the country. It has a far wider reach than films and I don’t think there is any other medium that can provide that kind of access to actors.

Shashank Vyas

Actor

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Firstly creativity demands time. And television has no time at its disposal. When you have a paucity of time,you have to compromise on creativity,which essentially affects the character,detailing and the overall story.

Next,obviously,are the long hours of shooting. Every day I shoot for almost 14 hours,and that is excluding my time of travelling back and forth,which also takes away a few hours. To add to that,I’m an actor and my profession demands me to be physically fit. So,I have to take care of my diet,exercise regularly and also get proper sleep so that I can get up early in the morning to look fresh on the set. This has become my life. Actors who are playing supporting roles are still better off since they are not required to shoot every day. But I’m the lead of my show and I’ve to be present in most of the frames,which basically means I’ve to be on the sets almost all the time.

It wasn’t so earlier. The demand of the daily soap culture is too much. If you go by the labour laws,the number of hours that we devote exceeds the limit. And we also don’t have a healthy employer-employee relationship culture either. As a result,actors don’t have any personal life. Forget dating or going around with someone,I didn’t even get time to celebrate Rakshabandhan this time. So after returning from work,I tied a rakhi on my wrist. I’m never sure of my routines and I might be suddenly informed that I am shooting tomorrow. In such a situation,it is impossible to even plan a holiday.

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Certain actors also have exclusive contracts with the channels,which prohibit them from working with any other channel or reality show. I’m grateful for the kind of exposure that actors get thanks to TV. But rules and contracts should be a little lenient for us. I’m not saying they should be lenient at the cost of the show,but there can always be a balance. Once we achieve that,creativity will show.

— Debate conducted by Ranjib Mazumder

First published on: 30-08-2013 at 05:09:06 am
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