Shaleen Bhanot: I was never so big on TV, so I could get a good break on OTT
The actor talks about why it takes time for TV stars to penetrate into OTT and how the struggle helps them
A number of actors, who have made a name for themselves on TV, are looking to transition to the digital platform for better roles and opportunities. But often they face casting problems or their TV image becomes a hurdle in the path. Actor Shaleen Bhanot has another point of view on this.
He reveals he didn’t have to deal with any of these while being cast for his OTT debut. He says he met a casting director in 2020, and after an audition, he was cast for the web show, Inspector Avinash.
Elaborating the possible reasons, he says, “Maybe, I was never so big on TV, so I could get a good break on OTT. If I had done a TV show which ran for years, then I would have left a stamp. And getting out of that image takes time. This is not the case on just Indian TV, but something that actors who do TV face across the world. Like the Friends cast tried other roles but it took them time to break out of the image of the one much-loved character they played for years. When the audiences love to see an actor in one character, they don’t easily accept you in other roles. Maybe that’s why it takes time for actors of TV to penetrate into OTT.” Bhanot began his career with a reality show in 2004 and since then has been a part of many TV shows including Saat Phere, Kulvaddhu, Naaginn (2008), Nach Baliye (2008) among others.
He calls TV “a learning experience”, and adds that while it also depends on the sensibility of the makers during casting. “OTT demands another level of commitment from actors. You have to be real onscreen and for that you shouldn’t have an identity as an actor or the last character you played. I understand why it takes time for TV stars to penetrate the digital medium. The struggle is good for actors as it will make them stronger as a performer,” he says.
Bhanot shares that he has been shooting for his debut web show Inspector Avinash for over a year as it has been an “enriching and exhausting” experience. He says, “The series has been a school for me. My experience has been unlike what I thought or expected. My role was challenging and emotionally draining and spent days not talking to anyone which was needed for my role. One has be real on screen and that takes hard work.”
Other than working with director Neeraj Pathak, working with actor Randeep Hooda was “marvellous” for Bhanot. He shares, “I think no average actor should work Randeep. It is a bad experience as one feels as an actor, you know a lot but when you work with such talent, you realise how much they prepare and the level of their passion. Randeep taught me a lot. I felt such an average actor in front of Randeep. I would ask him about his process and after a point, he got fed up of my questions.”