True Review

True Review Television -  Television’s Talent Lure

True Review Television - Television’s Talent Lure

by Piroj Wadia April 2 2016, 5:57 pm Estimated Reading Time: 2 mins, 51 secs

Much of the early television actors came from the stock of overlooked talent of Hindi cinema during the 1980s. Television gave them recognition, work and visibility, so long as they embraced the small screen with an open mind. Some continued their quest for good roles in films, while they took on the challenge television put before them; others wisely preferred the small screen, where they got stellar roles, recognition and their kitchen fires were blazing.

Take for instance, Kiran Kumar, who attained a cult status and the title The Bachchan of Gujarati Cinema. He may have won accolades later in Bollywood as an antihero, but it was his jump from cinema to television in 1992, with Cinevistaa's Ghutan, which ensured him visibility and recognition. He was one of the first mainstream actors to make the switch. Today, he is one of the highest-paid actors on Indian TV, and has over 6800 episodes, to his credit.

As television started growing, producers still looked to Bollywood for stellar talent for out of the box content or to grab TRPs. Hema Malini was one among them. She has appeared in television series such as Jai Mata Ki as goddess Durga. Her other television appearances include Kamini Damini on Sahara One, where she played twin sisters and Noopur which she herself directed, in which she played a Bharatanatyam dancer. Last year, Amitabh Bachchan moved from KBC to Yudh, a psychological thriller. In both cases, the shows were star driven. Was it that the content providers needed top actors to boost their off-beat ideas with a stellar presence? For instance, a Yudh wouldn’t have been accepted without a stalwart actor, who would attract eyeballs.

Now, however producers are more confident of their content, even if it’s off beat, purely because there are new channels who welcome fresh ideas which will challenge the stale fare still hovering around. Newbies Life OK and &TV have claimed their stake as hunting grounds for freshness. They do use known faces, who themselves must be happy to be working on different storylines and characters. Some producers see it as the right time to bring in Bollywood actors for specific roles.

&TV’s new Prime Time challenger and channel diver is Meri Awaz Hi Meri Pehchan Hai, a music drama produced by The House of Originals a new content provider helmed by Nivedita Basu an old hand. The freshness of the content notwithstanding, this music drama features stalwart actors in the lead roles -- Amrita Rao and Aditi Vasudev along with Deepti Naval and Zarina Wahab and Pallavi Joshi. The story encompasses three generations of two sisters whose lives revolve around music. Believed to be inspired by the sibling rivalry between Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle, Meri Awaz Hi Meri Pehchan Hai is the first serial to place music and songs as a character and using it to enhance the plot and a value add-on. The new addition to the narrative is Salma Agha, who plays the formidable singer Narayantara Devi. If on one hand, the producer has chosen film actors of standing for important roles, they have retained musical authenticity by picking Salma Agha and her music. It’s not just Amrita Rao who’s making her debut on television; Salma Agha is the other one.

Could it be that Bollywood talent too will be open to work on television, as they do in the US?

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