When TV star Barun Sobti signed a film called Main Aur Mr Right, he became the latest small screen actor to attempt to get the best of both worlds of entertainment. Not so long ago, actors had very specific choices — either work on TV or work in films. They couldn’t do both. Today, however, actors are doing it all. Ram Kapoor of Sony’s Bade Achche Lagte Hain, for instance, has done numerous films including Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu.
Ronit Roy has a hit courtroom drama, Adalaat, as well as three films in hand. Gaurav Chopra did a blink-and-you-miss-it role in Blood Diamond (2006) and now will be seen in the film Rangbari even as he hosts the TV show Savdhan India. Others who have been there and done that are Juhi Parmar, Narayani Shashtri, Chetan Hansraj, Manav Gohil, Shaleen Bhanot, Sakshi Tanwar and Shweta Tiwari.
Working in both mediums means hard work. Typically, an actor in a daily soap works 12-16 hours of work a day, 20 days a month. Add films to the portfolio, and work-life balance could suffer badly. But that doesn’t faze today’s TV stars. Where once actors like Amar Upadhyay and Aman Varma had to quit TV altogether to do films, today’s stars seem to straddle both mediums with ease. And that’s because the actors want a challenge.
“I do films as I want to work with experienced filmmakers and grow as an actor,” says Ronit Roy. Ronit’s performance in the film Udaan (2010) was highly acclaimed and, in the last 18 months, he has shot for Deepa Mehta’s Midnight’s Children and Karan Johar’s Student of the Year. Now, he’s working on Sanjay Gupta’s Shootout at Wadala.
Eijaz Khan, who has Sony’s Shubh Vivaah and the film Zilla Ghaziabad, says, “We have new age directors who want actors, not ‘stars’, which is why TV actors are a good option. Work on TV gets monotonous, and film roles are a good change.”
Money has little to do with a TV actor’s decision to step onto the big screen. Ragini Khanna, who juggled her show Sasuraal Genda Phool with the film Teen Thay Bhai (2011), says: “Small budget films don’t offer good money. You need to be a Shah Rukh Khan to be paid in crores.” Eijaz Khan adds, “TV has great money, but films are more about your own satisfaction as an actor. I am happier with a show and film, rather than one film a year.” He cites the example of his role as a Sardar in Tanu Weds Manu (2011), which he claims he could never do as a recurring role on TV.
Is a TV star’s criterion for signing a film its budget or the role? Ronit explains, “I look for a challenge and a chance to work with someone talented.”
How do the TV show’s makers adjust dates? “Both sides have to make adjustments for everything, from shooting overtime to altering the story to explain the absence of the lead,” says Barun.