Ali Asgar, who will be seen next in Bollywood horror film Amavas, spoke to indianexpress.com about being typecast on the small screen. The actor is best known for playing Daadi in Comedy Nights with Kapil and The Kapil Sharma Show.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
Q. Do you think it is the right time for you to make a comeback on the silver screen?
Definitely. There are ample avenues now. The best part is people are accepting everything. Earlier, films used to receive backlash for being ahead of its time. Now, there is no such difference. With digital space and exposure to foreign content, I think the audience has just woken up, and perhaps, that is why now we do not necessarily see the “Khan” phenomenon working on celluloid. There is room for everyone. If you have a story, you shoot and put it on YouTube. You will notice that even that has a viewership.
Q. Content has become king but do you think television needs to up its game?
Content was always there, but the audience and even the filmmakers have become brave. I have been part of a serial like Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi that has remained unbeatable for a decade or more. Now, we see shows like Naagin getting accepted because it has something new to offer. Have you seen the VFX of that show? Naag (snake) looks more like an earthworm.
If you see the kind of success Badhaai Ho is receiving, will you believe if I tell you that the same idea was suggested for television some two decades back? At that point, we were made fun of. I was there when the narration was happening. To an extent, Marathi films have always challenged themselves and tackled concepts that were taboo then and are now becoming a trend in Bollywood.
In television, if you take a script to the makers, they will say “kuch alag lao” (bring something different). Their demand is always the same. Sometimes, the subject gets accepted and then forgotten. Definitely, I want to see a change in the content that is being shown on television, but as an actor, I have limitations.
Q. You rose to fame after you played Daadi in Comedy Nights with Kapil and The Kapil Sharma Show. Do you think that has somewhere limited your opportunities?
They (channel producers) have a research parameter. Often I am asked why do I do only women characters on television. I have to let you know that this is not what I am doing by choice and that is why the film Amavas is special because it is to remind people that I am capable of doing everything. It is a shout out that ‘hello, mujhe aata hai (I can do it.) Ab aisa hogaya hai ki mujhe batana padta hai ki main mard hoon. (Now, I need to remind people that I am a man.) I am extremely thankful to Bhushan sir and Sachin sir. I swear, if they would want me to be a ghost in the next installment, I am ready.
Everyone needs variety. I am not bored, but I am tired. No matter what I do, I am put into the same clothes, similar characters. The research team showed me figures that people want to see me doing female characters only. Now, I really want to know who are these people?
Q. So, you mean breaking the typecast is difficult on television?
The moment your character becomes your identity, know that you are slotted and the journey ahead is going to be tougher.
It is very hard to break the mould in television. In films, I can wait for something to come my way or can do away with small roles or small budgeted films, but on television, there is a lot of confusion. I have no issue in doing what I am doing. The audience loves me. I have got a lot of popularity but let me do something else as well. You start with something else thinking it will be different, but soon it falls into the same old loop.
In television, you cannot be creative. If you try to bend rules according to you, it is you who suffer because ultimately you have to earn bread and butter. Also, if I do not want to do such characters and say no, it will go against me in the media. It is a risk.