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Characters overtake actors

Monday, July 30, 2007
Smriti Z. Irani, Hussain, Ronit Roy, Ram Kapoor, Sakshi Tanwar, Juhi Parmar, Sangeeta Ghosh, Hiten Tejwani – all big names on the small screen. The audience accepted them wholeheartedly as the popularity of the characters they played and the serials increased. But does that mean that the actors command the TRP ratings, and not the serials? Recent trends dismiss this probability.

Smriti is still referred to as Tulsi by many, even though she is no more part of Kyon Ki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi. But viewers are still hooked to the serial, with Gautami Kapoor playing the lead role. When the character of Mihir died, there was a nationwide hue and cry forcing the producers to resurrect the character. In the span of seven years, Mihir has been played by Amar Upadhyay, Inder Kumar and now Ronit Roy. And the show still goes on.

The response to change of actors in popular soaps is proof that the Indian television audience has matured over the years. Their focus remains on the story instead of getting distracted by a new face. The box-office results of big-budget multi-starrers further establish that famous actors don't necessarily rake in the moolah. Karan Johar's Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, Yash Raj Film's Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, Nikhil Avani's Salam-e-Ishq, Sunil Darshan's Shaka Laka Boom Boom and Feroz Nadiadwala's Fool N Final are just a few recent examples.

Coming back to television, undoubtedly there are a few actors who have become synonymous to the names of the serials they feature in. Sakshi Tanwar in Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii and Rajshree Thakur in Saat Phere are two such artistes. Nausheen, who played the title role in Kkusum was later replaced by Manasi Joshi Roy, while Rohit Roy stepped in to play Abhay when Anuj Saxena walked out of the show. Rajeev Khandelwal made a mark as Sujal in Kahiin To Hoga, but newcomer Gurpreet Singh seems well-settled in the role now. Anoop Soni replaced Mohanish Behl for the character of Suyesh Mehra in Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii. In Kasamh Se, the character of Jigyasa was played by Jaya Bhattcharya for a few months till Ahiwini Kalsekar was away.

Recently, Neha Mehta aka Mamta refused to play an aged character after a time leap in the story. Narayani Shastri has taken over from her. Anumeha, creative head of the show Mamta, said: "The character is the soul which has to be complemented by the actor. Replacements do occur, what has to be ensured is that the substituted actor is capable enough of doing justice to the character. That's because the viewers addicted to a character shouldn't be made to feel the change, or else, they would lose interest."

Veteran writer Purnendu said: "It's the character which anchors the serial and not the actor. When a replacement is made there are initial jitters, but everything settles down as soon as the viewer erases the previous actor from his memory. For example, the whole dimension of Hasratein changed when Shefali Chaya replaced Seema Kapoor. Shefali added a lot of power to the character of Savvy and made the show even better."

Compiled by Jayant Mishra and Mili Swarnakar.

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