Small screen too small for Bollywood's A-listers

New Delhi, Jan 8 (IANS) With desi channels adapting international shows like "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" and "Got Talent", fans in India are quite used to stars such as Amitabh Bachchan or Madhuri Dixit popping up on TV screens as hosts or judges. But will Bollywood biggies ever take up acting in fiction series seriously?

Hindi film stars have generally steered clear of the small screen. Quite unlike their Hollywood counterparts, who have taken to the small screen in a pretty big way and happily feature in sitcoms too.

Julia Roberts, who will be seen in TV series "The Normal Heart", is the most recent case in point. Other popular Hollywood A-listers like Ashton Kutcher and Charlie Sheen were seen in the sitcom "Two-And-A-Half-Men". And "Grey's Anatomy" features Katherine Heigl.

But Indian TV screens have mostly been devoid of such participation from known cine-stars.

There have been some exceptions of course. In 1998, Om Puri and Naseeruddin Shah played the lead roles in the successful serials "Kakaji Kahin" and "Mirza Ghalib", respectively, for Doordarshan.

Bollywood's Dreamgirl Hema Malini did the successful dance-based show "Nupur" in the 1990s. But after that there was a lull.

In early 2000, Hema and Karisma Kapoor tried to revive the trend with "Kamini Damini" (2004) and "Karishma - The Miracles of Destiny" (2003), which also featured Arshad Warsi and Sanjay Suri, respectively. But their efforts failed to yield the desired results.

If the Karisma-starrer went off air after a few months, Hema's show couldn't replicate the success story of "Nupur".

Superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who took a big leap from TV to films, raised hopes of a turnaround in that trend when he expressed a desire to return to his roots.

"I had a discussion with late Mukul Anandji and since then we have been thinking that all the big stars of Bollywood should come together and make a TV series.

"It will be interesting if Bollywood people would come together and make a 10-part or 12-part series, just like 'Buniyaad' and 'Hum Log'... I am open to doing it if there is a good story to entertain the audience," he told reporters recently.

Apart from Shah Rukh, actors who have made a transition from TV soaps to films include Irrfan, Vidya Balan and R. Madhavan.

Salman Khan feels that television is too much of hard work. "Reality shows are about one season, but when you do a serial you are stuck in it for 10 -15 years," Salman told IANS.

Aruna Irani, who is known for her dance numbers and character roles in films and has also been quite active on the small screen, tries to analyse why Bollywood actors haven't taken to fiction shows on TV.

"Silver screen is silver screen. TV serials are considered a step down as compared to films. People have always considered it less than a movie," Aruna, who continues her association with TV through "Parichay-Nayee Zindagi Kay Sapno Ka", told IANS.

Another hurdle is that money and fame are shortlived on TV, says film critic Vikas Mohan.

"There is more money and fame on silver screen. With television, fame is limited till the show is on air. Once the show is over, no one remembers the artists. So, (film) artists prefer to keep themselves connected only to the big screen," he said.

Time constraint also stops stars from taking up soaps, adds Samir Soni, who has long balanced TV and movie roles.

"Actors in films don't want to take that time off. They can do hosting, but for a daily soap you have to make a conscious commitment. In movies, the gestation period is so long... It may take a year to come," he added.

If Samir did films like "Lajja", "Fashion" and "I Hate Luv Stories", he also featured in daily soaps like "Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahi" and is currently seen in "Parichay-Nayee Zindagi Kay Sapno Ka".

(Yashika Mathur can be contacted at yashika.m@ians.in)

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