Their picture perfect onscreen appearance gives one the impression that TV actors have it easy. All they seem to do is don colourful costumes, wear make-up and deliver lines. But contrary to popular perception, their job is fraught with occupational hazards.
Besides working long 12-14 shifts under stressful conditions, lack of basic amenities on the sets, unavailability of healthy food, no breaks and over-exertion are some other issues that they face daily.
Newbie Rupal Tyagi, who stars in the hit show Sapne Suhane Ladakpan Ke, says, “When my show went on air, I shot for 90 days in a row. When I finally got my first day off, I spent it visiting various doctors, as my immunity had reached an all-time low.” Recently, for a car crash sequence, Rupal had to brave a three-night shoot that required her to be trapped in an awkward position inside a toppled vehicle.
Seasoned TV actor Hiten Tejwani, who has been juggling multiple serials, says that he’s learnt to prioritise. “When I’m at home, I give my family my 100 per cent. I plan outings with my wife Gauri; whether it’s a quiet dinner or a brief vacation,” says Hiten.
Although TV shoots are more or less regulated today, there have been cases when actors have shot non-stop for their shows for three days as the episodes have had to be aired on the same day. In an industry where talent supply exceeds its demand and there are actors willing to work for the minimum possible wages, it is competition and insecurity that forces them to put up with unfavourable conditions on the sets.
An insider says, “Many sets don’t have an AC. When an actress demands a cooler or AC, she is labelled as a tantrum queen. Food is another issue. Since actors have to stay fit, they can’t eat the oily food that’s provided on the sets. Many caterers put soda in their food as it gives you the feeling of being full for a longer duration. Most actors are forced to carry food from home.”
The long commute to work and back is another problem that actors face. Most TV sets are located on the outskirts of the city and actors end up spending two to three hours on the road. The most common illnesses they face are fever, heat stroke and gastric problems. Recently, Kunal Karan Kapoor of Na Bole Tum Na Maine Kuch Kaha fainted due to the extremely hot conditions on the set. Devoleena Bhattacharjee of Saath Nibhana Saathiya slipped and injured her back while shooting for her show.
Night shifts bring out other problems. “Work continues at a slow pace as everyone is sleepy. Also, it’s tough to look good and perform well at the same time,” says Angad Hasija, who recently shot the entry scene for Amrit Manthan in the night. He had to pump iron before the take to flaunt his six-pack abs.