FICCI Frames for the first time introduced a panel dedicated to stars of television. Moderated by Viraf Phiroz Patel, the ‘Being that TV star in India – is all that glitters gold?’ panel saw popular actors Nakuul Mehta, Vivek Dahiya, Drashti Dhami, Iqbal Khan, Kritika Kamra and Namita Dubey having an insightful discussion.
Apart from talking about how they entered the industry, Viraf also touched upon the popular notion that actors on TV earn big fat money. While for Namita the system is fair as television provides only seasonal employment to actors, Nakuul had a different take to it.
The Ishqbaaaz actor started by sharing how he feels disturbed that actors are categorised as per medium. “It is only in India that we say TV actor. It’s strange as we all are artistes. Most of us have dabbled in all mediums and there is no need for any classification.”
“As for your question, at the end of the day, it is business. And we are not paid for just the day but also the months of waiting. Just like a doctor goes to school to educate themselves, we wait and polish our crafts for years. And it is only fair that we make money worth our hard work. Today, I still don’t own a luxury car even though I can easily afford it. And it is only because I don’t want my EMIs to ever come in between my choice of work,” shared Nakuul.
Viraf said he knows an actor who earned Rs 3.5 lakh per day but still left the show because they reached a saturation point. To this, Nakuul added, “See, if it is a good project, the budget is around Rs 15 lakh per episode. What is the harm if an actor is taking 10-15 percent of that. To be honest, I feel I am highly underpaid. For three years, I have worked continuously for Ishqbaaaz. I have barely seen my wife and my family. As an actor, you are also emotionally invested in a project. So even if they take more than three lakhs, they are bringing something to the table.”
Sharing that the television industry functions in a bizarre way demanding 15-16 hours from an artiste, Nakuul said, “I have made it clear that I will never follow that. It doesn’t let me bring the best out of me. So I work only for 10 hours and I don’t work on Sundays. Money is the third point of conversation, the first is that I ask for 15 days of leave in a year. I am okay settling for less money but not less of human experience. I need to also live a normal life. I have made the choice because television tends to get mechanical, unlike other mediums.
“And as the lead, it’s not just about you but also the 150 lives that are involved in making the show. So actors on television are not just paid for the skill that they bring but also the attitude. It is a huge responsibility if you want your show to run for a long time. The kind of professionalism and value I bring to any project is unique and I have no qualms in saying that I am quite underpaid based on that,” concluded the actor.
Nakuul Mehta wrapped up his shoot for Ishqbaaaz yesterday. The daily will air its last episode on March 15.