Smriti Irani,Rajeev Khandelwal and Nausheen Sardar Ali entertained telly viewers as Tulsi Virani (Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi),Sujal (Kahiin To Hoga) and Kkusum (Kkusum) for years. But gone are the days when television actors stayed put on a TV show for a really long time. With the recent number of actors quitting shows going up,the shelf life of a popular actor on a show has now reduced to two years. Television actors prefer to move on to the next show,irrespective of the popularity and fame they gain as a face of a particular television show. The most recent example being Shoaib Ibrahim,who played the lead in Sasural Simar Ka on Colors. Or even Sanjeeda Sheikh,who was popular as Sejal on Sahara Ones Piya Ka Ghar Pyaara Lage. Or for that matter even Kavita Kaushik,who became the face of FIR on SAB TV as Chandramukhi Chautala. Actors quit TV shows because of two reasons,personal and professional, says Toral Rasputra,who took over as the new Anandi on Balika Vadhu. How much can an actor go on and on as the same character for years together? One eventually gets bored,facing the same dramatic situations and giving the same reactions on screen. The actors ultimately give up and quit, she explains.
Writer Kamlesh Pandey had to tweak his script to fit Sharad Kelkar,who had replaced Mohnish Bahl as Dr Ashutosh in Kuch Toh Log Kahange. Television industry has grown over the years,and so has the demand for actors. When an actor becomes popular on one show,he or she gets deluged with offers in no time. Be it as movies or other shows that offer fatter pay cheques. Television as a medium has become a hungry monster. Loyalty has come to an end and actors are busy chasing fame, he says.
Bringing in a new face to play a popular character can take a toll on the TRPS. At such a time,channels have witnessed a fluctuation in TRPs. The fluctuation depends from show to show, states Gul Khan,whos currently producing Qubool Hai. It matters if a show revolves around a love story. When one of the lead pair quit,then it is surely going to affect the shows TRPs, she explains.
Twist in tale
Vikas Seth,producer of Saubhagyavati Bhava on Life OK,believes that it is better to change the track of the show than change the actors. When the lead actors of my show,Harshad Chopra and Sriti Jha quit,I introduced a whole new track with fresh faces. Since the story was new and the characters were fresh,we were able to grab the audiences attention. Surprisingly,we were accepted so well that the TRPs picked up from being 0.6 to 0.7! he states. Echoes Prashant Bhatt,Weekday Programming Head – Colors,New track and actors can turn out to be a positive thing for the channel as it gives an opportunity to recruit and retain viewers. A new entry can attract new viewers and generate a curiosity in the existing viewers to know what will happen next.
Go going gone
In some cases of actors exiting a serial,the TV channels have shocked producers and audiences by pulling the serial off air. This happened with my show, recollects Khan,whose Iss Pyar Ko Kya Naam Doon? on Star Plus went off air soon after the lead hero,Barun Sobti called it quits. It was an inappropriate decision by the channel. If someone like Mihir or Tulsi can be replaced on an epic show like Kyunki… then I feel that even we should have been given a fair chance, says Khan,who adds that the frequency of celebrity exits is going to go up in the near future and taking a show off air is not going to help. The working conditions in the Indian television industry are extremely bad. From writers to actors everybody is required to work for 12 hours. Paying huge packages to actors is not going to stop them from moving away from gruelling working conditions here. Films are becoming a reason to break away from slavery, she says.
Season by season
Pandey pinpoints that the only way to avoid abrupt inclusion of new actors as established characters is to adopt the international television format of seasons. The format of seasons should be introduced for Indian daily soaps. There should be limited number of episodes per season,and if the show works,newer seasons can we introduced. This way,the actors too can commit to one season and three months before the new season starts,make a decision to stay or move on. This also helps the writers to come up with fresh ideas for the show, he explains. Khan and Rasputra root for the season policy too. Interestingly,the television industry has been gradually moving towards the western format with shows like Na Bole Tum Na Maine Kuch Kaha and Gutur Gu. The popular Zee show Punar Vivah too is slated to go the same way.