It’s not a new thing, but it’s making a real comeback. 22 years after Shah Rukh Khan broke the barrier by making a successful transition from the small screen (Fauji, Dil Dariya) to the big screen (Deewana, Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman, Baazigar), the trend has finally resurfaced.
Over the last two decades, it seemed this trend had died a natural death. Gracy Singh (Amaanat) made a transition, but her film stint was short-lived, though she managed to star in two iconic films – Lagaan and Munna Bhai MBBS. More recently, Rajeev Khandelwal flattered to deceive, with his film career failing to take off after a promising start with Aamir.
Vidya Balan also had a brush with television, but her film career started more than eight years after her sole TV show (Hum Paanch), making it less of a transition in the conventional sense. Raghu Ram (Roadies) tried his luck with cinema, but poor choice of films (Jhootha Hi Sahi, Tees Maar Khan) let him down.
Besides these and a few other relatively inconsequential examples, the TV-to-films transition has been limited to ‘character actors’ like Alok Nath, making SRK’s fantastic story look like a clear aberration. Until this year!
Only time will tell how big a star VJ-cum-anchor Ayushmann Khurana turns out to be. But with Vicky Donor, he has managed to create a mark many of his colleagues from television couldn’t. Not conventional ‘hero material’, Khurana’s talent, including singing and lyric writing, holds him in good stead, with Rohan Sippy’s Nautanki Saala coming up next. His co-star Yami Gautam too made the transition from Yeh Pyar Na Hoga Kam to Vicky Donor. But how her film career shapes up remains to be seen.
2013 will see action heating up, starting with Sushant Rajput, the much-loved Manav from Pavtira Rishta, debuting with Abhishek Kapoor’s Kai Po Che. Barun Sobti left his lead role in the popular romance Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon for a film that doesn’t seem like a good launch pad – Main Aur Mr Riight. The immensely talented Manish Paul is also set to make the transition in a film titled Mickey Virus.
Ram Kapoor has been making a sporadic impact in cinema over time, including his pitch-perfect role in Udaan. But with Mere Dad Ki Maruti, television’s most popular male star will finally play the lead in a Hindi film.
You can be rest assured that the list won’t end with these names. Several film studios are aggressively chasing TV stars for their medium budget ventures. Established film stars come with their baggage and price tag, and not more than half a dozen of them can ensure a good opening anyway. The economics of a good script begin to fall in place much better when you cast a ‘newcomer’. Like theatre was in the 70s and the 80s, television is the lead medium to identify such talent today.
However, it is known that most producers and directors in the film industry don’t watch too much television. In fact, there is a certain condescending view of the TV business that majority of them hold, especially when it comes to daily soaps. But with the media becoming increasingly inclusive, it is not very difficult to find out about new talent on television. It’s only a matter of time that promising talent like Drashti Dhami (Geet & Madhubala) is lapped up for plum film roles.
Of course, everyone can’t make the cut from TV to films. Acting is not necessarily the foremost qualification while casting for a TV serial, because you can ‘learn’ to be a character that you will eventually play over 500+ episodes. But those who can actually act have the opportunity of getting noticed in the more aspirational medium of cinema today.
But most young TV stars are not the best marketers of their own talent. They are not represented by professional talent agencies, and generally end up taking career decisions on their own, or (arguably) even worse, with their parent’s help! The fascination with cinema exists across their tribe, and if left unguided, they can commit the mistake of taking up the first offer that comes their way.
The opportunity is bigger than ever before, as a new age, liberal Bollywood is set to embrace television stars. Ayushmann’s success has provided the much-needed impetus to this trend, so much so that I’d like to call this new wave ‘The Ayushmann Effect’. Producer John Abraham deserves full credit for making the right choice and accidentally sparking off a wave.
I only hope that the young guns choose their offers carefully. If that happens, you can be assured that 2015 will be see a fair share of cinema led by TV stars of today.
This post first appeared on mxmindia.com, on my weekly column ‘TV Trail’