"Actors' remunerations will only worsen in the near future" : TV Actor Mahesh Thakur

If there is one distinguishing feature in Mahesh Thakur's personality that hits one instantly, it's his confidence.

Needless to say, this confidence stems out of his intelligence and education and keeps him supremely reassured at a time when the TV industry seems to be on a roller coaster ride.

Mahesh currently plays the lead in two serials - SABe TV's sitcom
Doli Leke Aayee Hai Dulhaniya and Siddhant Cinevision's family drama - Kudrat. Excerpts of an interview he gave to correspondent, Amar.

How did you start off as an actor?

I was based in Panama, US and had completed my MBA after which I decided to give acting a shot. I came back to India in the late 1980s and soon got my first movie - Meri Janemaan, which was released in 1990. The movie flopped and my career in movies never really took off. A couple of years later, I started getting offers for TV serials and from there, it's been a smooth journey.

Are you a trained actor?

Not exactly. I've done a crash course at Roshan Taneja's acting school but attended about eight classes in two months (laughs). Otherwise, I've done some theatre but that was mainly in college.

"Acting in 'Hum Saath Saath Hain' was a dream come true"

In hindsight, do you regret not having been trained?

No, not at all. I believe the ability to act is something you either have in you or you don't. There can't be two ways about this.

Do you follow the method school of acting or do you go by your instincts?

I have not known what method acting really is. I go purely by my instincts.

Have your instincts ever failed you? Are there any weak areas in your acting?

More than good or bad actors, I really feel there are good and bad scripts. More than the actors, I feel the onus for a good or bad performance should be on the writers. In India, most of the times the scripts that we get are very poorly written and quite a lot of re-writing is done on the shoot. This really hampers an actor's performance. Moreover, a good performance is all about fitting into a role. The best actors look out of place when they are not cast in suitable roles.

Why do we not have good writers?

Our industry is basically not geared up to pay writers well and so most writers we have today are phased in or makeshift writers.

Who are your favourite actors? Which are the stylistic elements, if any, that you've imbibed from them?

Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan are my all time favourites. Among the present lot, I admire Aamir Khan for the perseverance he puts into his roles and Shahrukh Khan for his sheer energy.

I haven't picked up any of their stylistic elements because I'm not at all image conscious or role conscious.

What are the factors you take into consideration today before taking up a new assignment?

Two things. First and foremost, I find out whether a role is interesting enough. Secondly, whether it is going to get me good money.

Does TV acting pay well?

Well, it used to pay well some two years ago when new channels- Channel 9, B4U , Sahara and SABe TV had come up but lately, there has been a major cash crunch and salaries have gone down by at least 25 to 30 per cent. I see the situation only worsening in the near future.


"I believe the ability to act is something you either have in you or you don't. There can't be two ways about this"

Have you planned or phased out your career, say you're going to shoot for a given number of days a month or a given number of projects at a time?

Yes, I don't normally shoot for more than 20 days a month. I'll tell you how it goes. I'm doing two serials- Doli Leke Aayee Hai Dulhaniya and Kudrat. Both of these take up about eight days each. In the remaining four days, I do miscellaneous stuff like shooting an ad-film or a new pilot. Then again, if I am shooting the 12 hour shifts four days simultaneously, I like to take a day off after that or at least limit the fifth day's shoot to an eight hour shift. Since I play lead roles, I don't act in more than two serials at a time.

Doesn't TV get too monotonous and taxing for a senior actor like you? Is acting in movies a solution?

Well yes, it does become taxing but movies is not a solution. Movies are okay if you are a star, not otherwise. At least on TV, I am the king. I wouldn't quit TV for bit roles in movies. For a TV actor even the economics of acting in movies is far too bad. Recently I was offered a movie where they were paying me for a 20-day shoot what I get in 5 days on TV. Why should I then take up movies?

On a scale of 10, what would you give yourself as actor?

I don't know. That's something people should decide.

"More than the actors, I feel the onus for a good or bad performance should be on the writers. In India, most of the times the scripts that we get are very poorly written and quite a lot of re-writing is done on the shoot"

Who are your favourite directors?

I've been really lucky to have worked with some of the finest directors on TV. Lekh Tandon, Ravi Rai and Rajesh Sethi are among my favourites.

Do you follow any regimen for self development?

Well, frankly at this stage I don't really need to, nor do my schedules give me the time for it. I feel presence of mind and experience are more effective tools that help me in my acting.

Which has been the happiest moment of your career?

When Rajshri Films offered me Hum Saath Saath Hain. It had always been a dream to act in a Rajshri Production movie because of the entire ambience it carries in it. Acting in this movie was a dream come true.


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