Television actors are often required to work at a stretch, as they shoot for episodes that are released on a daily basis. In the past few months, there have been several reports of actors falling prey to illnesses due to hectic timelines. This year, Aanchal Khurana, who acted in Meri Sasu Maa, was in the news for suffering from Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia (PSVT). In this state, one experiences a faster than normal heart rate. Madirakshi Mundle from Siya Ke Ram also fainted on the sets due to exhaustion. What are the reasons for the failing health of actors and the possible solutions to deal with stress on the sets?
No fixed hours
Aanchal admits that she fell ill due to work-related stress. “There were days when I worked for 30 hours at a stretch. To keep my energy levels high, I drank lots of coffee and energy drinks. With such a lifestyle, I was bound to fall ill,” she says. She adds that her former show’s production team did not plan the shoots in advance. “At times, I spent 20 hours on the sets, but shot for two scenes. If things are planned, every actor will get time to rest,” says Aanchal.
Madirakshi, too, says she has worked for 32 hours at a stretch to meet telecast requirements. “The lighting on the sets can drain the energy out of actors. There needs to be proper ventilation on the sets, as they can get crowded,” she says. Most television sets are in Film City, Goregaon or Naigaon, which are located nearly an hour or two away from the suburban areas of the city. Actors spend a great amount of time in travelling. This too, leads to exhaustion.
Room for improvement
Gautami Kapoor, who fainted during the outdoor shoot of her TV show Tere Sheher Mein last year, says that apart from working hours, “a lot of things” lead to illnesses. “There needs to be an improvement in the infrastructure. If we spruce things up, in terms of hygiene and provision of food and water, actors will lead a healthier lifestyle.”
She, however, adds that the production teams have “limitations” when it comes to providing these basic facilities. “Since the unit is large, they do not cater to just one or two people. Actors have to equip themselves with food, umbrellas (for outdoor shoots), caps, etc., because these facilities are not provided on the sets.”
Aanchal adds that the food that is available is “horrible”. “Production houses need to look into the quality of food,” she says. Meera Deosthale from Udaan, on the other hand, says that actors faint as they don’t eat their food on time. “This is a lack of responsibility on our part. We are more focused on our work,” she says.
However, Gautami and Meera speak positively of the medical facilities provided on the sets. “The production teams are aware of the situation and provide us with basic medical facilities.” But Madirakshi says that there is room for improvement. “Apart from on-call doctors, there needs to be more medical supplies for actors and other unit members who fall ill,” she says.
Several actors resort to activities that help them deal with the stress. Rubina Dilaik, Deepika Singh, and Hina Khan practice yoga and often post pictures of their routines on Instagram. Radhika Madan, had told HT Cafe earlier, that she dances to de-stress. “When I’m at home, I wake up 15-20 minutes earlier, and dance. It refreshes me.” “The actors and the production team should collectively create an environment that is healthy to work in and has proper medical assistance,” says Madirakshi.