How times change! The Hindi movie stars who would wrinkle their raddled noses at the very idea of appearing on television are now swarming all over the small screen. What was supposed to be a medium for has-been actors has now become de rigueur for superstars and wannabes alike. When Ashok Kumar appeared in TV ads and became Hum Log’s sutradaar, it was assumed that the onetime megastar of Hindi movies was collecting post-retirement perks. Today, you find Bollywood superstars, still at the acme of their career and popularity, making a beeline to TV studios either for a job or for promoting their latest movie. Nobody had ever thought that television would not only upstage Bollywood in popularity and reach but also become a symbol of trans-media stardom. Amitabh Bachchan is a typical example, who took anchoring to another level with the KBC (Sony) and has since been permeating the small screen, promoting everything from hair oils and masalas to tourism. Salman Khan created waves with Dus Ka Dum (Sony) and is now attracting eyeballs with Bigg Boss (Colors). Even relatively less known actors like Vikrant Massey who, with just Lootera and a couple of serials to his credit, will be anchoring TV shows; Massey will be seen on the sets of Yeh Hai Aashiqui (Bindass TV). Among women, Madhru Dixit is a judge for the Jhalak Dikhla Ja (Colors), while singers like Usha Uthup (Doordarshan), Shreya Ghoshal (Sony) et al are judging wannabe singing stars’ performances on different shows.
Aamir Khan, on the other hand, prefers gravitas to lowbrow-middlebrow stuff, as evidenced by the promotion of his movies like Tare Zameen Par, Three Idiots etc through interviews on news channels like NDTV 24X7, CNN-IBN, etc, wherein he invariably generates profundity. He further reinforced his image as a thinking actor with evolved sensibility by anchoring Satyamev Jayate, which scored a first by getting telecast simultaneously on Doordarshan and the Star TV network channels. The series was brief but packed a punch powerful enough to shake up the complacent patriarchal mindset, impelling different state governments to portray themselves as being sensitive to woman and girl-child related issues. Anupam Kher too is anchoring a new show, The Power of Shunya – Quest for Zero (Times Now).
Movie promotion has caught on like a fad gone viral among today’s moviemakers and actors alike. Every other day we can see film stars like Ranbir Kapoor, Tusshar Kapoor, Imran Khan, Irrfan and the Deol trio of Dharmendra, Sunny & Bobby, et al, promoting their wares on the small screen. And, since he is the acknowledged King Khan, Shahrukh apparently feels duty bound to set a new benchmark in the field of film marketing too. While promoting his latest, Chennai Express, he, along with Deepika Padukone, gave interviews to Rajiv Masand (CNN-IBN) and appeared on other news channels including NDTV’s Night Out; the appearances on different shows and channels set his style apart. He wowed the Gokuldham denizens in Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashma (SAB TV), matched his comic skills with Kapil Sharma on Comedy Nights with Kapil (Colors), charmed children and their parents on Indian Idol Junior (Sony), mediated between Madhubala and Rishabh Kundra in Madhubala, Ek Ishq Ek Junoon, and rounded it off with Rajat Sharma’s Aap Ki Adalat (India TV). With this king size promotion, Rohit Shetty must be looking forward to the Chennai Express chugging in with trainloads of moolah.
But, if you think that Bollywoodians confine themselves to films and TV shows, banish the thought. They are quite adept at providing amusement as netas on news television. BJP’s Shatrughan “Shotgun” Sinha had Narendra Modi in the crosshairs while firing verbal salvos and praising Nitish Kumar; enough to make the party’s top brass squirm. Raza Murad went lyrical on the “large-hearted” Madhya Pradesh CM, Shiv Raj Singh Chouhan, and deftly dodged reporters’ attempts at making him disparage Modi by name, showing combined traits of eels, chameleons and seasoned politicians. Entertaining stuff!
Published in The Financial World dated 12 August 2013