Television

"Films have their share of confusion, but none during production stages like the small screen"

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Year: 1990. Director: Mahesh Bhatt. Co-star: Top model Anu Agarwal. Music: Nadeem Shravan. What more could Rahul Roy want? Yet despite an excellent launch pad- Aashiqui, he couldn't make an impact.

What went wrong? Where does he stand now? Last we heard is that he shifted his focus from films to television. Some time back, he was seen in Sahara Manoranjan's Karishma- Miracles Of Destiny. Soon, he will be also be seen on the pubcaster in a new series Ehsaas.

indiantelevision.com's Vickey Lalwani caught up with Roy at Jaipan Studio in Goregaon, where he was shooting for Raman Kumar's Ehsaas. Taking time off between the shots, Roy bared his heart. Read on, for the candid interview...

 

'Aashiqui' was a resounding hit, despite that you started fading away from the scene. Why?

I cashed on my success. I signed several films post Aashiqui. I took more on my plate than I could handle.

People did appreciated me in Junoon and Phir Teri Kahani Yaad Aayi, but rest of the films that I had signed did not go well with the audience. On hindsight, I say that most of those films were crap.

But no one realises his mistakes when the times are good, do they? We all realise our mistakes in our bad times. Plus there was another reason.

 

And what was that reason?

Those films could have fared better, if the Indian cinema hadn't been in a transient period. Those were the days when Indian cinema started changing. Crossover films, small-budget films started making their first appearance.

I had signed some formula films- plain love and action ones. I got trapped. I found myself in a catch-22 situation. If I did those films, I would be doomed and if I opted out, I would be damned.

 

Then?

Within some months, offers trickled down. The entertainment industry had nothing to offer me.

But now, I am looking ahead for a second innings. I have no regret for the period when I went without a film/ serial/ advertisement. I am not sure if I would have managed it differently.

I decided to try my hand at family business. Few years down the line, I got married (to model Rajlaxmi Roy) and today, I am a contented man.

 

How did television happen?

It would have happened long back, hadn't I refused some offers. I had a few wrong notions. I thought that television was a smaller medium for a film actor to enter. Fearing a backlash of comments from the public, I kept away. But then, I saw that top personalities from tinsel town had no qualms about entering television. I began reading their interviews and understanding their perspective. I decided to follow suit. I took up a serial - Kaise Kahun? by Sati Shourey for Zee TV.

 

How many episodes did you do?

Don't ask me that! I am not too keen on going back, checking what I did and trying to improvise. Neither, do I have the inclination to watch Hindi serials. You will rarely catch me on the monitor. That's the director's job isn't it? (laughs).

 

So what do you feel about television in general, now that you have done some episodes of Sahara's 'Karishma- The Miracles Of Destiny'?

Two things:

A. Television does not pay in proportion to the hard work it extracts, not only in terms of effort but in terms of time as well.

B. The producer and director want to control the show but the channel is the king.

 

Could you elaborate a bit on that?

There should be a method. I understand that you can't possibly know if the audience will like your character or not. But if they don't, then the channel either changes the story line or chops off the part, but in the bargain the focus is lost. The actor is confused about the path, his character is required to take and therefore he rarely does homework.

I understand that a good actor needs to adjust and adapt but the need for adjustment and adaptation is alarmingly and undesirably high. Believe me, it gets terribly frustrating at times. Having done films, I am used to an orderly way of working. Even films have their share of confusion, but that happens during the planning and pre-production stages, none during production stages like the small screen.

Television is a very long drawn out commitment. You have to keep coming to the sets without asking too many questions and better not change your dates as the serial has 25 other artistes, who are doing more than one serial. You need to work with like-minded people, else survival is difficult.

 

How do work in such an environment?

I will ensure that I work with like-minded people. Else I won't take up the project. I wouldn't mind sitting without work, rather than working for a serial where I have to drag myself out from home every morning.

There is nothing worse in professional life than getting up in the morning because you "have to" reach your office despite you not liking it.

 

So how about doing a few films at this juncture?

Why not! But the offers that are coming are not really exciting. Someone will come up and say, "Aapko isko pyaar karna hai," while another will say, "badla lena hai," I have done these roles!

The ones that I want to do- the Farhan Akhtar types are already written with an established star in mind. The budget of such films demands established stars. So, I am waiting? I am sure a few good things will come up.

 

Going back to 'Karishma?' specifically, why were you disappointed? You role just spanned to 20 episodes.

I am aware how Indian television functions. You can't get into any role with a definitive path or destination in mind. Come to the shoot, can your portion, get out and don't think about it, that is the way actors have to function. I can't change the system.

From day one, I don't know why, but I suspected that it wasn't a long role. I played a plastic surgeon, who was in love with Sheeba. She changes her face to impersonate as Karisma and grab the empire. My role did have the potential of continuing but I don't know what the creative were thinking. They just called me and told me that I was no longer needed.

 

You think the serial suffered a lot due to the Barbara controversy?

It had nothing to do with me. I came in very late (laughs). On a serious note, honestly I wouldn't be able to analyse this.

 

We have heard that the serial is unlikely to extend for another year.

Even I have heard this. But from outside sources and not from the horse's mouth.

 

Going back to what you said about Indian television, if the system shoot, get out and don't think- is changed will we have a better tomorrow?

Of course! Serials abroad go on for 10-15 years. Every actor is satisfied with the remuneration. So, the actor doesn't really feel the need to take up five to six shows.

Everyone involved with the show attends the story hearing, and are given the script in advance. If all these steps are taken here, you will seldom get spasmodic TRPs- five episodes doing very well while the next 20 falling flat.

 
"The responsibility of a government headed channel is far more than a private channel, that makes them slightly conservative"
 
Sometime ago, there was a buzz that you were taking to direction?

I am thinking on those lines. I am currently in talks with some producers and financiers
 

So how are you keeping yourself busy these days?

I am doing a Marathi film Chaava. Plus a couple of Hindi films, if they materialize in the next two or three weeks. And of course, Ehsaas on DD. I play an obsessive lover and I will be for more than just 20 episodes (smiles).

I am also currently in talks with the makers of Agneepath. I should be making a grand entry in the DD show soon.

 

Both these serials are on DD?

(Interrupts) But the reach of Doordarshan is incomparable. I need to reconnect with a large number of people. Plus Raman Kumar, who produces both these serials, is an old acquaintance since Ashiqui days.

He knows what I am looking for and I am sure that I won't be shortchanged. Financial aspects are important, but an actor really requires a lot of creative freedom.

 

But wouldn't you have preferred if these serials had been either on Star or Sony?

Why not Doordarshan? Just because the packaging of some other channels is better. Don't get me wrong, I am not running down the packaging. But you see, I have been to Delhi and met some Doordarshan officials. The responsibility of a government headed channel is far more than a private channel, that makes them slightly conservative. They can't have alcohol on the table, they can't show girls in short skirts. Take away the sheen from those other channels, the content is pretty similar. I always look at the content.

 

Will you reject a Star or Sony show if the content does not appeal to you?

Why not? I have rejected them before. Why won't I reject again?

 
Going back to 'Karishma?', did you really like the content when you signed up that plastic surgeon's role?

With Sahara, there were some additional reasons which came into play. I have done two or three films with Sheeba. I know Akashdeep very well. But to tell you the truth, I haven't been disappointed. I was treated very well. And after knowing the Sahara Parivaar, I am sure that if I get an opportunity to work with them next time, it would be something good and big. Let's sign off on this optimistic note (smiles).
 

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