Why Have Seasoned Actors Faded Away from TV?

By Priyanka Sharma

New Delhi, March 5 (IANS) Many seasoned Indian TV actors have been edged out by the influx of high pressure daily soaps and a younger lot who, some say, are chosen more for their looks than talent.

Actors Anita Kanwar, Mita Vashisht, Tanvi Azmi, Renuka Shahane, Pankaj Kapoor, Jayant Kripalani, Benjamin Gilani and Firdaus Dadi are some of the popular faces who have almost disappeared from Indian television.

"Our industry is full of actors with immense acting potential, but unfortunately today scripts are not written the way that can help them exhibit their talent," Shruti Ulfat told IANS.

The actress has worked in hit shows like "Love Story", "Thoda Hai Thode Ki Zaroorat Hai", "Mumkin" and "Gharwali Uparwali".

Supriya Pilgaonkar, who has been in the industry for 25 years and is known for her potrayals in serials like "Tu Tu Main Main", says she would love to do challenging roles but rues the limited opportunities for women her age.

"Everyone wants to make a character of my age a mother. There's no experimentation. I would love to play a detective or an adulteress, but who will give me a role like that? Not on the small screen and not even in films. Roles for us are very limited," she said.

According to actress Bhavana Balsavar, daughter of yesteryear actress Shubha Khote, television content has drastically changed over the years and looks have taken precedence over talent.

"TV bosses are giving a lot of importance to looks rather than how young actors perform. Only once in a while things come up when they really need actors and then they approach veterans," she said

But Purnendu Shekhar, writer of series like "Jyoti" and "Balika Vadhu", begs to differ. "It's not that there is a dearth of roles for veteran actors. But sometimes actors have their own reasons for drawing away from serials. For instance, Renuka Shahane got married, some went into films. In such situations, priorities for these actors change," Shekhar told IANS.

"Also, these actors were used to doing weekly serials and with dailies the pressures are completely different. Some of them are not ready for the daily pressures of shooting at all.

"There are some actors who are away by choice. Otherwise, Mita Vashisht was seen in a long stint on 'Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii' and Alok Nath is never out of work on TV. He is still doing good TV shows.'

However, there are some old hands like Neena Gupta, Surekha Sikri, Alok Nath and Sooraj Thapar who continue to be around and argue that the TV industry has space for everyone.

On being asked about whether youngsters were dominating the TV screens these days, she said: "No, I don't think anybody is dominating. Everyone is getting work, whether young or old, and they are doing it also." Neena made her mark in the industry with serials like "Khandan", "Saans" and "Dard".

Sooraj Thapar, popular for his role as the bespectacled Mr.Saxena in the comedy show "Shri Sifarshilal", is all praise for young stars.

"They are doing a wonderful job. I look at them and take inspiration for my scenes. I believe whether an actor is young or old he or she should be given due importance," he said.

There may be the lucky few. But many pivotal actors seen in popular serials like "Hum Log", "Buniyad", "Khandaan", "Kashish", "Gul Gulshan Gulfaam", "Banegi Apni Baat", and "Tara" have almost faded out - and their absence is felt on television even today.

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