For decades now, many have considered television a stepping stone to Bollywood. As a result, the big screen has seen several imports from the tube over the years. While initially, TV stars looking for their big break would mostly do supporting roles in films, that trend seems to have taken a backseat of late. The new generation of TV actors is now aiming to bag lead roles in movies, and many, such as Barun Sobti, have even succeeded. Manish Paul, Jay Bhanushali, Karan Kundra, Karanvir Bohra, Hussain Kuwajerwala and Sara Khan are some of the TV actors who have all made their Bollywood debuts with lead roles.
However, the common thread linking these films, unfortunately, seems to be the fact that they haven't performed too well at the box office. While most of the films featuring TV actors have flopped, including Manish's Mickey Virus (2013) and Jay's Hate Story 2, a few, such as Karan's Horror Story (2013), have only been average grossers. Nonetheless, there continues to be a steady stream of actors still vying to make it big in Bollywood.
Patience is key
Insiders from the TV industry blame the TV actors' lack of patience for their poor performance on the big screen. "Many rush in to sign whatever is offered to them instead of waiting for the right break. They don't look at the producer, director, story or budget of the film," says the insider.
Gurmeet Choudhary, for instance, has been receiving offers to do films since his hit TV show, Geet, in 2010. But he decided to make his debut with producer Mukesh Bhatt's Khamoshiyan (that releases next month) only a few months ago. "A TV actor needs a good producer and director to back him to be able to deliver a hit; I waited for the right break," he says.
The other TV stars who are also set to make their Bollywood debuts soon include Karan Singh Grover (with Alone, opposite Bipasha Basu), Kapil Sharma (Abbas-Mustan's next with Elli Avram) and Jennifer Winget (with Phir Se co-starring Kunal Kohli).
Karan Kundra thought he had a hit formula on his hands when he was offered the lead role in Vikram Bhatt's Horror Story (2013). However, the film turned out to be an average grosser. Now, he is juggling his film career with a few TV projects. Commenting on the trend of TV actors starring in Bollywood films, he says, "A decade ago, beauty queens were cast in every other film, these days it's TV actors. Producers are looking for the next big thing to bet on."
(From left) Jennifer Winget, Kapil Sharma, Sara Khan, Manish Paul, Gurmeet Choudhary and Karan Singh Grover
One would imagine, then, that a film's scale could have a role in this gamble. But that doesn't seem to be the case. TV actors like Siddharth Shukla and Karan Wahi made their debuts with supporting roles in big-ticket films, but their careers didn't take off as expected.
Rajeev Khandelwal, who made his film debut with the hit, Aamir (2008), never managed to recreate that success. Hussain Kuwajerwala was launched with a small budget film, Shree (2013), which, too, didn't perform too well. At that time, Hussain had said, "It didn't work, but you learn from your mistakes. Next time, I will be more careful about choosing projects, but that won't stop me from trying."
Eijaz Khan, Anita Hassanandani, Aamna Sharif, Amar Upadhyay and Nausheen Sardar Ali are some of the other TV stars who have been immensely popular on the tube, but failed to make an impact in films.
However, Karan Kundra feels that TV actors can't always be held responsible for the poor performance of their films. "Most newcomers haven't been able to deliver hits. Not everyone makes it (in Bollywood)," he says.
It might seem like fame and popularity would transcend mediums, but that clearly isn't the case.
TV stars' lukewarm Bollywood debuts