Saumya Tandon, who is better known as Anita Vibhuti Narayan Mishra from the serial Bhabhiji Ghar Par Hai, unlike other television actors believes in quality content, and she rightly so also considers herself to be a thinking actor.
But much to her disdain, her recent experiences as a television actor has been quite unpleasant. Hence she decided to write an open letter, where she boldly speaks of how television actors are looked down upon compared to Bollywood actors.
This is what she wrote:
“I am a TV actor”, I told this makeup artist I wanted to hire for the Quiz show I was hosting for a leading TV channel. He was not pleased at all, he told me that he doesn’t work in TV shows he works in films. I tried to convince him, “It was a 20 days job and good money with on the spot payment without credit.” But I gathered with his hesitation that receiving peanuts on a film set was acceptable to him over the ’stigma’ of working on TV! I didn’t react, I was stuck with no choice as my regular makeup artist had fallen sick and I needed a good makeup artist badly. He was so ashamed to accept that he was ready to work with a TV actor that he really tried hard building a story around how it was because of his fondness for my co quiz master that he will take up the work. It was disturbing but then I thought maybe he doesn’t have the intellectual capability to understand me or my work. I know who I am and it should not affect me. Honestly it did affect me, I realized I couldn’t work with someone who is more consumed by ‘stereotypes’ than passion towards his art.
And this was not the first time I got this reaction, I got the same or probably worse feeling when I hired a photographer known to be the best along with his team of filmy and fashion savvy stylist and makeup artist. Complete disdain and scorn and substandard result is what I got in return of an exorbitant amount I shelled out for the best in the industry.
This is the reaction I have got from the biggest producers and most creative directors, “I liked your screen test, but you are too exposed on TV”, some also have this one, “You are good but you will have to unlearn what you learnt on TV”, and oh yes this one I can’t forget, “If people see you every day on TV why will they pay for a ticket to watch you on big screen”
Well I wouldn’t defend TV, no I wouldn’t, I am the first person to complain, about the poor content on Indian TV and lack of good work for thinking actors like me. Instead of reinforcing the voice of ‘New India’ TV is usually drumming the archaic and regressive concepts that women of today have fought tooth and nail to get away from. ‘Plotting’ Saas to ‘crying’ Bahu and ‘chauvinistic’ husbands to ‘witchy’ vamps, titles and channels might change but the themes by and large remain the same.
But the real question is
-Are the Indian films really that original and great in content? Honestly, 90 percent of films spin the same yarn of ‘foreign locations – bubbly girl bumping into the prince charming’ to ‘techno heavy but no story cool dude thriller.’ Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between one dance number from the other, they all seem to come from the same manufacturing unit trying to sell each and every other film project as the next 100 crore hit. Stars are scared to experiment, producers and directors are scared to cast different faces they rather pick up a niece or nephew of the star if the star is not available. Between this two and half hour trash and half hour daily trash is just the ‘mullah.’ One does it in 50 crores and the other in 10 lakh an episode. There seems to be no difference between TV and film world here, except in the minds of those who believe one ‘trash’ is superior to the other.
But yes the film world is seeing a change its seeing good scripts honest attempts to make good stories, actors who genuinely want to give in to the character without the fear of success or image. Sometimes we do see fearless work on big screen. And very interestingly in this new wave of cinema, the maximum people who are bringing about this change are people who come from different places from TV, theatre, small towns, people with no film background, small time Ad films makers to writers who have written all kinds of stuff, actors who have done blink and miss roles to typical TV saas bahu leads. It’s a fun and rich mix of talent. It is this cinema, which is bringing return on investments, taking Indian cinema to the next level, it is this cinema we are all proudly trying hard to represent internationally.
Thank God for that, it finally happened because someone on the other side of the table had the sense to not have the stereotypical thinking, and not say,” Yeh sab nahi chalta filmo main”.