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Old 02-02-2011, 04:54 AM
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Default Where have all the good actors gone?

Last week I saw a play titled Bas Itna Sa Khwaab Hai starring Shefali Shah and Kiran Karmarkar. Ironically, the title could just be what most actors are wishing today – to get a dream role. The play, a socio-psychological thriller talks about the purpose of life and how reality is replaced by illusions. Though the subject has been dealt with years ago by the director in a Marathi play the Hindi adaptation is very watchable. The hugely talented Shefali returns to acting after a decade and Kiran who is hardly seen on the small screen is a delight. So why have these two gifted actors been hiding for so long? And not just these two but dozens of such other equally gifted artists who have almost disappeared from acting. MIA (missing in action) is how I would describe their current status.

Often people lament the fact that TV is devoid of good actors. I beg to differ. TV does have very fine and committed actors but it’s the want of good scripts and good roles that edges them out of the race. They would rather wait in the wings and if the wait gets too long, move to alternate mediums like theatre and cinema. In fact television has given us so many good actors that it’s a sad state of affairs that not many are around any longer. Let me jog your memory a bit.

Recall the Buniyaad couple Anita Kanwar-Alok Nath? Whilst Alok Nath capitalized on the super success of the serial, Anita vanished only to return as a CBI officer in Saboot. After which she almost never re-surfaced. As Alok Nath who has been seen in a lot of TV serials very succinctly puts it that acting in TV soaps is like downing fast food. Working hours are very bizarre but the money is good. TRPs force channels to evolve the story line as they go so we rehearse minutes before the shot.
And those who cannot conform go MIA. Joining that rank and file are actors like Mita Vasisht, Tanvi Azmi, Renuka Shahane (she came back, albeit only to do a dance reality show), Pankaj ‘Karamchand’ Kapoor, Satish ‘Indravadan Sarabhai’ Shah, Ratna Pathak Shah, Shefali ‘Savi’ Shah and so many more.

Television content has drastically changed and looks have taken precedence over talent. Good roles are hard to come by. And now that producers are redefining their strategies by signing on new actors, seasoned actors have been edged out. What works in favour of the newer lot is the fact they come cheaper and offer bulk dates. This works in both the interest of the production house and the actor. With neither experience nor any formal training what the actor wants is just a foothold in the industry. Left with no other option but to bow out or wait in the wings until some good role comes their way, good actors are often left out in the cold. So when you get to see a Shefali or Kiran back in action albeit on stage (which only a fortunate few can literally afford) one is thrilled. When you see them emote on stage one wonders what was Kiran doing in Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii and probably that’s the reason why Shefali was not seen in anything exciting post Hasratein. She is arguably one of the best in the business today.

Very few actors are as fortunate as say a Swapnil Joshi or a Dilip Joshi to be offered some challenging work on the small screen. Swapnil who plays Vinay Chand Parekh in Papad Pol is a dark, obese man who had to put on oodles of weight and paint himself black for the role. The actor is happy doing this as he thinks it’s a nicely etched role in a good show. As for the talented Dilip playing Jethalal may be a cake walk but at least he gets to play a good part.

Yet all is probably not lost as yet another talented actor called Deven Bhojani who may be recalled as one of Aamir Khan’s friends in Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander fortunately struck gold in television with Dekh Bhai Dekh, Sarabhai Versus Sarabhai, Baa Bahoo Aur Baby and now the soon to go on air Mrs Tendulkar. He says he is fortunate to have producers who still trust his acting abilities and of course the viewers who love him some more every time he digs into a meaty part!

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