"If Indian television was a disorganised sector, it would not have been as huge as it is now" : Aman Varma

There are no two opinions about this one: Aman Varma is a household name today. He leaves a mark no matter what he does. His portrayal of Aditya Pratap in the average serial Kehta Hai Dil won him an award at the Indian MTR Telly Awards 2003.

He emphatically says he does not wish to outline his struggle period. All he says is, "It's a myth that I was always at the right place at the right time. I haven't taken the escalator. Like the rest, I too have climbed the stairs."

Recently, he hosted the Laureus World Sports Awards with John McEnroe and Rachel Hunter at Portugal. That too second time in a row. Last year, he had hosted the same event at Monte Carlo. Read on for the telly icon's t?te-?-t?te with indiantelevision.com's Vickey Lalwani:

Open Sesame (khul ja sim sim)!


'Kum Kum- Pyara Sa Bandhan' shot up to be the No 1 position in the afternoon slot after you joined the cast?

(Blushes) The protagonist, Kumkum, has appealed to viewers right from the very first episode. The storyline, the look of the show, the stars, everything makes the show a complete viewing experience.

The Kumkum-Sumeet pairing has become very popular among the masses. There has never been a dull moment in the storytelling, which keeps the viewers wanting more. That it has become No 1 only after I entered is purely coincidental.


What attracted you to play a devil in Sony's serial 'Devi'? The show is obviously not doing well...

I am at that stage of my life, where I am trying to figure out the newer things that I can try. I think, I have done almost everything that I could on television. I want to go to the next level, but I am still figuring out what that next level is.

I will have to claw my way around. I need to do different things. I liked the fact that I'll be playing negative in Devi -bluish eyes, long hair.... That's it! As for you saying that the serial is not happening, well, there are many other serials, which are not happening either.


You replaced Rajesh Khera (Maddy in 'Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin') in this serial?

I know. I think they needed someone with more hair (laughs).


But aren't these dime-a-dozen replacements, which keep happening on TV, unfair to the viewers?

(Shrugs) What to do? Indian television has become the survival of the fittest. But mind you, no production house or channel changes an actor without a concrete reason.


Are you aware about the length of your roles in 'Kumkum…' and 'Devi'?



What's up with your character in 'Kyunki…'? You have disappeared from the scene…

(Interrupts) You should be asking that question to Balaji Telefilms.

"Many good actors have disappeared from the small screen because they did not evolve; they allowed themselves to be straitjacketed"

Haven't you reached at that point in television where you can demand the protagonist's role?

I would never do that. In fact, I would hate it. I have always made a conscious effort not to get trapped in any image. I always wanted a special character, who would come and twist the story, in other words carry the story forward. I don't want to hang in there for trivial matters.

As it is, Indian television is largely woman oriented where men squeeze in some frames to just say a right line or two at the right time. I don't want to drag in any show for three or four years. I want people to know me as Aman Varma. I don't want people to know me by the name of a character that I portray. I want people to know me as someone who has the range and capability to do different roles.


Go on...

An actor, who does not take up different roles on TV will burn out in no time. Many good actors have disappeared from the small screen. One of the main reasons why this happened is because they did not evolve; they allowed themselves to be straitjacketed in the same kind of roles.


You said that you are clawing your way. Care to elaborate?

I am meeting people, who do films and different stuff on television. But of course, my basic work continues. Else how will I continue to keep my kitchen fires burning? Mumbai is an expensive city.

"Indian television is largely woman oriented where men squeeze in some frames to just say a right line or two at the right time"

Where would you place 'Kyunki...'- the show that made you a household name?

Yes, KSBKBT made me a household name and I would be lying if I didn't say that. But Khulja Sim Sim was the true turning point in my career. It happened in 2001. KSBKBT happened just a little before that.

Actually the anchor role was designed with a well-known film star in mind, but he unfortunately was more comfortable in English. That is where I came in as I could converse in both Hindi and English.


Your last film 'Tum' didn't do well. What had attracted you to the role initially?

The fact that I was playing a cop excited me. Ratanji (Ratan Jain of Venus) had someone else in mind but the talks with that actor had failed. He is a well known actor....


But critics said that you hammed a lot in that film...

Critics are meant to criticise, I guess. But I did just what my director Aruna Raje told me to do. Just like I did exactly what Ravi Chopra asked me to do in Baghban. Plus, I think Tum was not marketed very well. The songs too left something to be desired. But has there been a little bit of me in the promos...


Were you happy with the feedback you got for 'Baghban'?

I am not going ga-ga about it since I knew that the role could have been done by anybody. I wanted people to realise that I was doing a biggie. It was a marketing strategy; an attempt to market myself at the film level. The strategy, unfortunately, did not work.


"I don't want people to know me by the name of a character that I portray"


We all take some good decisions and bad decisions. Hmmm... I wouldn't say that it was a bad decision. Let me say that it did not work as I wanted it to.



So how are you keeping yourself busy these days?

I am doing a film opposite Juhi Babbar (Raj Babbar's daughter), which would mark Rajesh Khanna's return. The film is titled Paigaam. The dates have not been finalised. We are basically waiting for a go-ahead from Khanna Saab. There are a few others, but it would be premature to talk about those now.


Do you think that you are a better anchor than an actor?

I feel that I am a better actor.

Actually, anchoring is also a part of acting. You just have to be yourself. I still remember the day I was offered Khul Ja Sim Sim and I was skeptical if I'll be able to pull it off. But Star Plus was sure. I even asked them whether they were sure of the decision they were taking. They said that my plus point was the language.



Your language indeed is your plus point. How is it that you never fumble with your lines?

I read a lot. I see some television whenever I can. I keep myself abreast of the current scenario. That keeps me with the present scenario and I feel confident.



Its' said that Aman Varma comes with an attitude baggage?

(Smiles) I do not wish to stay back beyond the stipulated hour, simply because I don't arrive late. There have been instances where I have been told to stay back, but I have picked my bag because I have to report to another set. There is not a single person, who can say that Aman Varma comes late on the sets. And yes, I want my money on time. If that is attitude, then well... (shrugs).



Then how do you fit yourself in the confusing working environment of Indian television- chaos, speed, last minute glitches, et al?

I don't think there is any confusion. If Indian television was a disorganised sector, it would not have been as huge as it is now. Yes, its lots of hard work 'lekin bahut logo ke gharon ke chule jal rahe hai aur (but many light their home fires thanks to television)...


Aur kya?

'Aur kuch film walon ke dil bhi jal rahe hain' (and some film stars have a heart burn) (laughs).

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