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Small IS beautiful

From a trickle, the influx of film actors into the television medium has grown into a flow.

Serial and movie actors at a function to felicitate them.

INITIALLY, FILM stars were roped in to add glitter to mega serials. But soon the attraction of a captive audience drew in many reigning character actors and former actors to the television industry. With more than eight Malayalam channels competing for viewers' attention, a no-holds barred contest to bring in the best to the small screen is on.

"Television is a powerful media. It caters to families and we actors get a reasonably good response from them," says versatile actor Tilakan.

Accolades from viewers

"My aim is to produce and act in good films and continue to do serials.": Priya Raman

Kaviyoor Ponnamma and Sukumari agree that they cherish the accolades they get from viewers. "Many people congratulate me on a role I have done in a serial. This was quite rare in films," says Sukumari.

Priya Raman concurs. "I get a very good response for my serial `Kavyanjali'. People still remember and appreciate my role in my earlier serials. This recognition is hard to come by in films."

Highlighting the wide reach of television, Indrans, who has made a name as a comedian, says: "Television programmes reach even the remotest parts of Kerala. So our exposure is more."

Indrans was persuaded to do a role in the serial `Life Is Beautiful' by Jagadeesh, who also acts in the serial. With only an occasional appearance in the serial, Indrans manages to keep his film dates simultaneously.

"In serials, we tend to goof up a little…. So they end up having the same rhythm throughout.":Indrans

It takes some skill on the part of these artistes to juggle careers in both the media. They find it difficult to pinpoint which of the two is more satisfying. "An actor's job is to act - be it in television serials, movies or on stage. It is very difficult to says which gives more satisfaction," says Ponnamma.

Sukumari agrees: "I accept serials or films only if I am fully satisfied with the role. So the question of choosing one does not arise." "I find acting both in films and serials satisfying. This is how it should be for an actor," says Ponnamma. But Tilakan thinks otherwise. "I think television serials are, without doubt, more powerful. Film-making has become a business now. Removed from real life, they are just a medium to display vulgarity. In serials, your movements are restricted and so you get a lot of opportunity to display your acting skills. We have had good films before, but not any longer," he says.

Indrans says: "In serials, we tend to goof up a little. And the prompters have a certain rhythm that gets automatically passed on to the actors. So the whole serial ends up having the same rhythm throughout. This is something that is avoidable. But in films, each person has to learn his dialogue and deliver it in his individual style."

Managing schedules

So, how do they manage their schedule? "I am very selective about my roles. I accept a role only if it fully satisfies me. So the number of serials and films I do are fairly limited," says Ponnamma.

For Indrans, films are the first choice. He acts in serials only when time permits. Priya Raman wants to have the cake and eat it too. "My aim is to produce and act in good films and continue to do serials. I don't differentiate between the two and would like to do more rolesand get more recognition," she says.

Financial security is one big advantage of doing serials. Says Tilakan: "I have had many bad experiences with my film producers. Money was always a hassle. But in serials, you get your pay before work is wrapped up every day."

Priya Raman too lays store by financial security and believes acting in serials makes one financially secure. "But I don't work for money alone. I prefer to do a good role for less money," she says. "Acting in serials means more money. But being a professional actor, the money aspect takes a backseat where I am concerned," says Sukumari.

"I think television serials are, without doubt, more powerful": Thilakan

But serials are ripped apart for being endless tear-jerkers with storylines far removed from reality.

"I agree. The women portrayed in our serials are far removed from real life. But the saddest part is that our viewers who mainly comprise women are fond of watching such serials. I don't think they would accept anything that reflects their real ," says Ponnamma.

Says Sukumari: "This is definitely a bone of contention among many of us. Many like me may think of these serials as drab and an escape from reality. But being actors, our job is to listen to the director and do our part well. We rarely interfere with what does not fall into our domain," says Sukumari. "Many of our writers have penned novels that would make wonderful storylines for serials. Our producers and directors should consider this fact," feels Indrans.

The Association for Malayalam Movies Artistes (AMMA) had imposed a ban on its members acting in serials and conducting stage shows. But the actors seem to have taken the ban in their stride and have decided to live life on their own terms. " KPAC Lalitha, Bindu Panicker, Mamukoya, Nedumudi Venu... the list of actors who have moved to the small screen is endless. Vive le idiot box!


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