It is a known fact that TV actors are one of the most well-paid professionals around. What with the big bucks spent by production houses, proliferation of channels, sheer number of shows being launched, and the booming digital space, small screen actors are raking in the moolah like never before. And it’s not money alone. In a country as obsessed with celebs as India, TV stars enjoy all the perks associated with stardom. Name, fame, adulation- you name it, they have it.
Why then, in spite of having it all, do these very same actors chuck it all for the lure of the big daddy of entertainment, aka, Bollywood?
Granted, Bollywood is the reigning Badshah of entertainment. But, in today’s time, TV is not small fry either. It’s where middle class India finds its paisa vasool of entertainment. It’s where small town India dreams its multi-hued dreams. Add to that, the massive launches, lavish sets, big ticket episodes, meaty roles, drool-worthy clothes and what-nots, and one is compelled to agree that TV is where all the action is.
However, despite this, Bollywood continues to draw in top-rated TV actors in droves. Gurmeet Choudhary, Karan Singh Grover, Barun Sobti, Mouni Roy, Gautam Rode- the list of TV A-listers, trying their luck in Bollywood, is endless. Most actors give up wildly popular leading roles in successful serials, to settle for second-rung roles in small budget movies, made by relatively unknown film-makers, or B grade horror movies, and the like.
Worse still, if we were to try listing the names of actors who have tried their luck in Bollywood and failed miserably, we would have to use up our entire quota of words for this article to accomplish it.
The fact remains that TV stars who do manage to make the cut in big budget productions are few and far between. Only Sushant Singh Rajput, Ayushmann Khurrana and Yami Gautam, in recent times, have found success in significantly large productions.
Why, then, do these superstars of the small screen, kings of their realm, settle for being deprived paupers in Bollywood?
The answer lies in the age-old perception that success in Bollywood is what separates the contenders from the pretenders. For most artists, Bollywood is where the real action is. For them, Bollywood is the key to recognition on a much grander scale than TV. It is the holy grail of their profession, which must be sought with single-minded fervour.
Success in Bollywood means one has arrived. It means being on first-name basis with movie stars and breaking bread with Bollywood biggies. Sigh, who wouldn’t want that!
Success in TV-land is like the rainbow, which is often within reach, but success in Bollywood is like that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow- unreachable, yet, unbearably tantalizing. Bollywood is the lure that beckons our battle-scarred TV warriors. They may have the oasis, i.e. small screen stardom, and yet, when given a chance, rush towards the shimmering mirage that is Bollywood.
The call of the big screen is so captivating that TV artists seldom think twice before chucking their super-successful careers on the small screen- that haven that gave them hope, in the nascent stages of their acting career. From being stars of the small screen, they end up being strugglers on the big screen.
Then, one fine day, these very same actors realize that Bollywood is not really the golden goose they thought it to be. It is the place notorious for its many camps, its prejudice, its favouritism and nepotism (don’t hold it against us for using that word, folks!).
And they come back to the world of TV, which, invariably, welcomes them back with open arms. After all, its beloved stars have come home to roost.
(Written by Rashmi Paharia)