Cinema

Ashok is grateful to television

Ashok Kumar  

“I've picked up my audience over my career spanning 25 years in television,” says Ashok Kumar who is a household name in Andhra Pradesh. Looking relaxed and content, the actor reminisces fondly about the numero uno position he enjoyed on the small tube and avers that money was the last thing on his mind.

“I was into theatre since my childhood; even while I pursued law and turned into an advocate, I never gave up theatre. I also never set my sights on becoming a movie artist. The pilots on Tenali Ramakrishna and the first episode onwards turned me into a super star of TV. In those days Doordarshan was the only channel and an entire street would have only one or two TV sets. People would rush to have a glimpse of me like they would a film hero; that success ignited my passion for acting.”

After all these years, why didn't he use his experience and connections to become a regular face or perhaps as popular as other character artistes in movies? He ponders over the possible reasons, “The stardom on television had become a hurdle, I had too many commitments. In movies you should keep trying and some day you'll click, I didn't have the time then and my focus was here. I did work as a hero in a few films but I don't know why I didn't click. Most people come into the movies and think about money from day one, but since I was already comfortable when I entered this field, I stuck to my passion. Instead I chased name, fame and good roles. Yet I was the highest paid man on television.”

Bezawada might have flopped but even there, Ashok Kumar outshone other actors . He avers that if the film clicked his second innings in movies could have begun. His best role was in Vengamamba which again didn't click at the box office.

Ashok Kumar who has completed 24 years in the TV industry agrees that there is a lot of variation in remunerations paid to those entering TV; artistes from movie industry commanding much higher pay than artistes who have been working for years. Though it's not fair, it's all in the game...one must live and let live, he says.

He adds, “TV provides bread and butter for a lot of people who have slipped out of films; it gives retirement options and shelter and also provides overnight name and fame and a lot more. A person is busy for 30 days and has no dates to allot to anyone else plus people who seek a career now are more blessed, there are plenty of opportunities. Ashok Kumar attributes hi long innings in the TV industry to being choosy about roles. “The industry can survive without anyone, but actors should reach a position such that the industry should think of only you for a certain role. We should remember our mistakes so that we do not repeat them. I'm going to direct a film soon”.


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Printable version | Dec 3, 2021 5:20:49 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/ashok-is-grateful-to-television/article2783056.ece

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