Society and the Soap Factory

Abstract: The project aims to look closely into the relationship between the T.V. Soaps & the Society. It is a close encounter with the soap factory, from an actor’s point of view. I will try to find the motivations of the actors (including myself) who play these characters on daily basis and the impact of these reel characters on the Actors? real life. I also aim to find out, how exactly this system works. How does it reflect the society and how does it affect the society. What formula is this, that succeeds each time in capturing the senses of the 21st Century Women (especially the Housewives). This project promises to be a first of its kind study from inside the world of T.V. soaps. I shall be telling the tale from the horse’s mouth. It will be a useful research material for Sociologists, Feminist Organizations, Psychologists, Dream Merchants (The Producers), Academicians & of course the Desperate Housewives. The material I plan to submit would consist of analyses reports, photographs, audio recordings & transcripts of interviews, clippings of the actors / soaps, etc.

Bio: After a master’s in commerce from Rajasthan University, Indu Verma learnt acting at the National School of Drama in Delhi. She has acted in a number of TV serials including Awaz Dil Se Dil Tak, Kitte Party, Time Bomb, Agneepath, Joshilay, Achanak, 37 Saal Baad, Kabhi Aaye Na Judaai, and Siddhant. He has acted in films including Tere Naam, Paheli, Rising, James, 9/11 The Last Fall, Humraahi (yet to be released), White Noise.

Email: induverma_virgo @ yahoo.co.in


Postings:

21/1/06

Inside The Soap Factory (by Indu Verma)

POSTING -1: An Introduction

A dream to be famous, a dream to be big, a dream to be applauded… is what an Actor craves for. Acting to me is just an extension of showing what lies within, as a layer of emotions which if carefully placed & played can fit in the so called “Characters”. Often the world hears actors talking about their acting style, the detailed research they do & the methods they follow to get into the skin of the characters they play. I personally do not subscribe to any style or method of acting.

As for the Rasa [1] Theory, there are only nine rasas in which the whole acting world lies! One just needs to place the correct emotion required by a character at the right moment of the character’s life. I certainly do not deny the fact that every single human being would do it in his or her own different way, yet the outcome is only an emotion. And the closest to the character would be the actor playing the right emotion at the right time. Again, it would differ from the viewer’s point of view because what to you would be a delight to watch, may not appeal to others at all. So the debate on what is correct & what is good is unending.

Since I am and for now will call myself a “TV Actor”, I will look into the TV soaps which I, fortunately or unfortunately, am a part of. Its not as if I am forced to act on TV. Acting on screen, big or small, was always my dream, but the unfortunate part is the working condition of the TV industry (read: the Soap Factory). Both as an Actor as well as a viewer I feel pity on myself for what I am subjected to. Today the world of soaps mostly revolves around female emotions aiming closely on the desperate housewives who either want to be Tulsis & Parvatis or want their daughters or daugter-in-laws to be one of these Demi-Goddesses. The Soap factory thrives on repetitive conflicts capturing the viewers to the extent of breaking their houses. No exaggerations, but the unending tales of the saas-bahu dramas are many a times not even scripted till the eleventh hour when the scene has to be finally shot! The shoots go on without actual scripts so that the deadlines of the telecast are met. On screen, what looks like a scene of two or more actors talking in the same space & at the same time, might actually be a scene shot separately with each of the actors because their dates could not match with each other. This is a crazy world of make believe. Well, nothing against the Producer who casts the busy actors and manages their schedule like a juggler. Everything is fair in business. Money precedes morality, ethics and even logic. A maddening phase leads to a mammoth quantity of TV soaps, being churned out day after day, episode after episode. All you readers out there won’t like me saying this but the truth is that till you continue to watch, we continue to produce. Only if you stop demanding, will we stop supplying. Till then, bring on the make up!

[1] An ancient Indian acting theory mentioned in Bharat muni’s NATYASHASTRA.

 

28/2/06

INSIDE THE SOAP FACTORY

Chapter-1: An Actor in search of a Character The Lost Character:

Hey, guys can I please get my own space, I need to work on my character Ssh ssh, silence man, let him concentrate Huh, what’s there to concentrate, just be spontaneous yaar, just live the moment

Ae moment kya karna hai, bina fumble kiye line bol de, bas khatam

TAKING… ROLL CAMERA… ROLLING… ACTION

Samandar ki aseem gehraiyon tak, aasmaan ki vishal oonchaiyon tak, jungle ki athah tanhaiyon tak meri pratispardha ki agnimaya jwala jalti rahegi. Mein aaj kasammmm…

CUT CUT CUT

Aray hindi mein bol yaar, what kind of lines are these. Whoz gonna understand this novel. Sir, this is what we have in the script Rubbish, call the writer and ask him to re-write,now Come on guys,lets not waste time, lets first take the reaction shot of the co-actor But sir what am I reacting to, I mean unless I know his lines how will I give the expression Aray yaar, something to the effect that you have been successful in provoking your son. Rest I’ll keep giving instructions

OK, LETS TAKE, SILENCE ROLL CAMERA, ROLLING, ACTION…

whatever gehraiyon, oonchaiyon tak meri whatever fire jalti rahegi.

YA GOOD, HOLD THAT EXPRESSION… ZOOM.. NOW SLOW ZOOM, RUSSIAN FRAME, NICE… CUT IT

An Actor can not really search for a character in television, because most of the times he is basically bound by the limitations of working under the channel’s instructions, which are mostly based on maintaining the gloss as per the television standards. The word out here is ‘The Look’. Actors auditioning are closely scrutinized on the look rather than the acting abilities. Here is an incident where I was to play a mother whose son has been kidnapped. Post kidnapping, the scenes followed my look all dressed in heavy silk sarees, lipstick oozing out of the lip line and not one strand of hair falling out of place. Not to be missed was the matching bindi and heavy jewelery. All that was still bearable to the extent, that I at least had a power packed scene to enact where I am all shattered and howling on top of my voice.

But, but, but hold on… ACTION… was the call I howled and genuinely cried (minus the glycerin), and the director said.. CUT IT

I thought there was some technical fault as I was going as per the script and probably the right emotion. To my surprise, the Director takes me to a side and explains, Here is what he had to say… “Listen Indu, we know you are a good actor (no exaggeration), you were good, but remember one basic thing, not only for now but in future also, never distort your face while crying, you should look beautiful while crying also.” I was shattered. Forget the particular character I was playing, according to me even if you generalize, no mother would check on her beauty and appearance while howling when actually her child is kidnapped.

How does an Actor prepare?…when he/she doesn’t have a script to work on, a co-actor to rehearse with and a Director to discuss with? No jokes, but I myself have been cast over the phone, have actually gone to the shoots just after a brief discussion of the shoot dates, remuneration and at the most costume details(in case the decision is made on the eleventh hour, I have to carry my personal clothes).

“BUT…LISTEN…HELLO…MY ROLE? HELLO.. HELLO” PAUSE “WESTERN/INDIAN LOOK, POSITIVE/NEGATIVE SHADE CARRY THREE SAREES AND A PAIR OF JEANS”

Genuine Involvement: But there is another side to the coin. There is a hope against hope that the trend will change. Because there were shows where I had complete freedom to actually work on the character, discuss the scene and the shot with the Director and rehearse with the Co-actor. I have had rare opportunities to work on shows like Siddhant (Star One), Agnipath (DD), Darna Mana Hai (Star One),… where I did get a window to work on my ‘character’ and not just the ‘look’. I knew before hand, the story, journey of my character and relationship with other characters in the plot. I consider such shows a novelty. However, even such shows eventually succumb to the pressures of TRP and Channel instructions. They too become mundane, leaving little scope for acting. But till the time that happens, you do get to work on the character. So, how does one work on a character? Well, to take an example: There is a scene in Aawaz (Zee), where I am pleading to a police officer in a hospital for the release of my husband, who is admitted in an ICU and is charged with a conspiracy against the state. It is a desperate scenario for a wife and so I as an actor, was supposed to cry and plead with conviction in order to justify my character’s desperation. This scene with an abrupt beginning, forced me to look into my personal life and search for a right motivation which could be used to bring inside the required emotion for my character. The word ‘motivation’ is the key here. An actor is also a human being. He can not cry or emote without any reason. To create that imaginary reason, he requires a motivation. Thus, I had to imagine various real life tragedies in order to motivate myself to cry with desperation and match the mental state of the character. In other words, I replaced the character’s motivation with that of my own. Nothing Personal, just Business! Actors are selfish beings, they use their own emotions and that of others to get the shot right. So next time you are talking to an actor, be careful, he might be closely observing your emotions and recording them for future use! In fact mirrors are an actor’s best friend as they give him/her an audience to perform, a director to critically observe and a co-actor to rehearse with. Acting is a combination of imagination and memory. But there is yet another aspect to this combination. “JUST BE SPONTANEOUS YAAR”.

Believe me I’ve given my best shot where I was completely spontaneous. A scene from ‘Agnipath’ with an amazing co-actor Mr.Kiran Kumar, was executed to perfection with a rocking on-screen chemistry between the two of us. The best support to that scene was our Director Mr.Raman Kumar, who gave us complete freedom to be on our own. The scene represented a situation where an illegitimate Child (my character) meets her Father (Kiran Kumar’s character) for the first time in her life. It was a highly emotional sequence for both the actors and thankfully we had well written lines which helped us to be spontaneous.

The Real Actors(and hats off to them):

Director- You know swimming?

Me- yes

Co-actor- No

PAUSE

Director- Ok, Indu is running for her life and you(co-actor) are running behind her as you have been sent by your boss to kill her. She slips into the pool and tries hard to swim across to save her life. You also jump behind her and push her inside water so that she drowns.

Co-actor- But sir, mujhe swimming nahin aati..

Director- Relax man, tumhare jump karne tak ka shot hai, then we’ll cut it na. Anyways, the pool is six feet deep and you are six feet tall. We will take your close shots in the shallow waters.

TAKING.. START SOUND.. ROLL CAMERA.. ROLLING. ACTION

Me- (running hard)Bachao, please help, koi hai( I slip into the pool) bachao, help!

Co-actor jumps behind me and pushes me inside the water so that I drown, and believe me he did the scene with complete conviction. A guy with a huge build was pushing my head so hard that i was actually drowning. He almost killed me when to my rescue the Assistant Director came shouting..CUT IT..

Me-(came out screaming)Are you demented? We are acting boss, why did you use so much of force?

Co-actor- Aray, I myself was drowning and I wanted to do it right in one take so that i don’t have to jump again.

(Okay, he had the right motivation, but what happened to you sir? Why didn’t you cut it?)

Director- I thought the scene was pretty natural so i wanted to go on to see how far can we go on in a single take.

Me- Well, it has to be natural as he was actually killing me and i was actually crying for help.

Director- Anyways now its over, now we’ll take all close shots where you guys can stand in shallow water.

TAKING.. START SOUND.. ROLL CAMERA.. ROLLING. ACTION

Me- Help, bachao, bachao… cut it!

Director- What happened?

Me- (To the Co-Actor)Now you are not drowning, why are you putting so much force? Please understand, we are acting. Now we are standing in shallow water on our knees and whatever force you use is coming on my neck as I can’t penetrate through the bottom of the pool. I respect your conviction but this is not the last shot of our lives.

Co-actor- I’m sorry. I swear I gave another five shots after that, but my neck was always subjected to a similar torture. Only relief I had was the Director’s call… PACK UP !

28/3/06

Real life and Reel life

Third Posting by: INDU VERMA

Not an apt statement for me to use, but… I am a ‘Non-Actor’ in Reel life and… I am a perfect ‘Actor’ in Real life. Don’t be surprised, the fact is that to be a good Actor you should ideally not act in front of the camera. You got to live the scene… the emotion… the moment… you must become the character. On the other hand, as you are already living the moment, you can afford to act in Real life. Well, I guess that we all do. Anything which is consciously intended can easily pass as Acting.

Real to Reel:

Apart from taking emotions from the Real life, we do take or carry a lot of other things while we face the camera. What is that? It is the family… the sleep… the health… the mood swing…the finance… and not to miss- the mobile phone. All of it lives with us while the camera rolls. Any Actor not getting affected by any such thing is a rare breed. But still Actors live two characters at the same time. Because Actors supposedly get into another character but do not stop living their own character. Well, I don’t literally mean breathing your own self but observing the act you are doing, which would mean observing things like -the right emotion you play, right lines and most importantly your ear to hear ‘Action and Cut’. There is a very thin line between this so called transformation, where one transforms, but actually doesn’t. Now for me, this transformation starts as I head for the shooting location. As most of the Actors make their hobby of Acting as their profession, the burden of going for work is generally not there. I get a kick as I drive to the sets. It is a proud feeling which stays till you are back home (sometimes it stays forever). As I reach the set, it is a different space where I get in, with a feeling to perform. Hunger for recognition gets into the nerves. As the spot boys start getting mineral water and tea, the transformation reaches yet another level. This is even before I get my scene. This is the Actor’s role I start to play. What I mean is that after reaching the set and before the camera rolls I am yet a different character. I am not what I am. It is the high which Actors get when they are looked after with some extra special care. The special treatment makes them feel above others. Then starts the physical transformation, where I start wearing make-up and costume. It is a genuine change of appearance which starts to play on my mind. As I get the scene, I start to memorize and then is the wait for the call. As I rehearse the lines with the Co-Actor in the actual space, before the take, I start to get the idea of the extent of possible transformation. But for me, the roll call does the trick. It takes the most which I always hold back in rehearsals. Once the shot is over, I come back into the Actor’s role which continues till I leave the sets.

Reel to Real:

Then starts the real acting which is the real me seeking attention from the family. Being pampered after a long day of shoot is the motivation. One can say, that it is a natural instinct but believe me, we Actors still can do it better. I even bargain on the amount of attention I want. Many a times I subconsciously carry the same facial expressions which I used for the character I played on my shoot. This is a rather interesting aspect that I noticed very recently. As individuals we have a limited stock of expressions. Out of this stock, we as Actors tend to pick up the expressions we feel are needed for a part being played by us. The same expressions are then used in real life situations unintentionally, thus blurring the divide between the two personae. You can call it an Actor’s hangover, but it is unavoidable. Some actors accept it, others do not. One of the easiest way to witness an Actor’s hangover is to observe a popular Actor in a public space. You can most of the time witness a subtle transformation taking place in the same person who looked so normal just a little while back! Most Actors (including me) are a victim of this confusing phenomena. So, we have a Soap Bahu acting like an Ideal Bhartiya Naari in public gatherings, we have a TV Action Hero giving out Superman smiles (without any reason) to people around him, and we have a God from TV Mythology playing Mr. Know-All & treating his fans as lesser mortals.

DONT LAUGH!… WE ARE TALKING ABOUT PSYCHOLOGICALLY CHALLENGED PEOPLE.

Well, I am no exception to this confused state. Let me give you an example: Sometime back, I was on a visit to Pune with my husband. One day on some trivial issue we picked up an argument. As we stood on the road side trying to convince each other, a crowd started to gather around. First there were some kids, then they were joined by their mothers and then came some men. The crowd kept getting bigger. We were so involved in talking and arguing with each other that we almost forgot that I was a TV star and these people were slowly recognizing me!

Soon the kids started to get their autograph books between me and my husband. They cared a damn about our conversation. As my husband gave a confused look, I slowly transformed into my TV character and started to sign autographs with my trademark smile. Our argument evaporated in thin air as I got mobbed by a hundred people. It took us some time to realize what was happening and as the fan following began to reach dangerous levels, my husband pulled me into an Auto Rickshaw and we bid goodbye to a memorable moment of recognition. But there is an explanation to this psyche of the Actors. Even if we wish to be normal, people do not let us be. A screen image remains in the minds of the masses who actually start loving or hating us as those screen characters we play. They do not allow us to come out of that created image. Initially when you are recognized by the name of the character, you feel good about it but in a way the Actor looses his/her own identity. It, in a way harms the Actor, especially if you have played a character which has become extremely popular. Then for the rest of your life you are identified with that particular character and you do not get roles you could have got, if you had not played that popular character. It rather comes as a signal to the Actor, that he/she is finished.

I have a perfect example to this situation. Forget the public, I myself could not remember the name of the Actor who played ‘RAM’ in the famous “RAMAYANA’ of Late Sh. Ramanand Sagar. I met him on a show we were supposed to shoot together, where he was to play my father’s role. Believe me I did not realize that he would not like if I would address him ‘Ram ji’. It was quite unintentional but he was highly embarrassed and introduced himself to me.

Another incident which was a kind of a revelation to me, because I was pretty new to the industry, was when I had to shoot with a famous ‘Father’ of films and television(would not like to name). The Actor is a big TV star and I was pretty excited to shoot with him as he also happens to be my senior from the National School of Drama.

An outdoor location half way to Goa: All the crew members are eagerly waiting for this television star. He arrives in a white Mercedes and waves to the onlookers. The crowd shouts in excitement. The Producer heads to greet him. Followed by the Director, the cast is introduced to him. My introduction comes as a graduate from the Drama School. He is happy to meet me. Later, I am told by the Director that he wants to meet me. I rush to his room but as I enter, I get the shock of my life. He is having his drinks and smoking to the extent of suffocation. A polite gentle ‘Father’ on screen, looked a normal man. Believe me, I couldn’t accept this sight, though I did not show him my change of expression. Reason of shock was valid. The image which I had in my mind was that of an ideal ‘Father’. I had not known him as an Actor behind the screen, who has his own life and identity, different from the screen image.

Hence, the Character we see on screen, gets imprinted in our minds as an image of each particular Actor. More importantly in Television, an Actor is dominated by the Characters he/she plays and it becomes verydifficult to break out of this dominance. The Actor continues to live multiple lives transcending the worlds of Reel and Real.

13.5.06

Tales of Action & Cut: 4th Posting by INDU VERMA Beginning is always a problem, be it this posting, creative writing or an Actor getting a role.

Hey, she forgot to wear her clothes.

Na rey this is today’s demand of the industry.

But we are here to audition for a television series.

So what, now this is happening in television.

Lets move then, hamara koi chance nahi. Hum toh yeh sab nahi kar sakte.

Wait yaar, ho sakta hai hamari acting better ho, may be she is a dud.

Madam where are you.

Acting doesn’t matter. Didn’t you hear her(would not like to name) saying we don’t want Actors, we just want people who are committed to us and do not crib about dates.

Acting hum camera ki help se kara lenge. Shucks yaar, I rehearsed so well thinking I’ll get this role on the basis of my acting capabilities. Didn’t you realize how much weight I have lost by starving myself just to be in this business.

Ssh, she is coming. I don’t care, lets move. I have seen people doing everything possible just to get one chance to be seen on screen. Willing or unwilling, they fall prey to the demands of the industry. In comparison to films, television is still better in this case, but slowly the affect can be seen.

The old famous Actors are not seen anymore with new faces visible on every show, whether they are Actors or not. I’m one of those not very old Actors who are still not branded, so I stand a fair chance every time I go for an audition or a look test. Lately, I have not been keeping too well, and a friend of mine knew about my illness. Believe me, she wasted no time and during a telephone conversation she cried of her being out of work. In a way she was conveying that, since I’m unwell I should direct all the phone calls coming from production houses for work, to her. How nice of a friend to take away my work load.

In the world of “action” and “cut” there are various emotions an actor goes through along with other co-actors:

Admiration-

In Television there is a mutual admiration club of actors. An actor is always hungry for appreciation, so by admiring other actors sometimes he / she is fishing for complements for the self.

Oh, I think you were rocking!

Come on… it’s a team work.

It came out well because you gave me all the right cues.

I think our on screen chemistry worked.

Do you think I was convincing?

Yes, of course! You were right there. Such a pleasure to work with an actor of your intensity.

Pleasure is all mine…

And it goes on & on till the time both actors have completely satisfied their egos.

Jealousy-

Envy is one emotion, which is so true to the character of an actor. An actor cannot (and trust me on this) stand the success / genuine appreciation of another actor. You can see sparks flying when the Director goes ga ga over your performance in front of your co-actor. What happens next is an indirect reaction of being a witness to someone else’s success. One actor’s solo appreciation is like an insult for the other actor. Sometimes it hurts more than a direct criticism.

Director to the Actor: Madam that was fantastic. I have never seen an actor having such a command over the dialogues.

Co-Actor (after hearing this): Spot! Where is my juice? This thirst is killing my performance. I need energy. Nobody co-operates out here. (To the Actor) Can you please give me some time to rehearse the lines with you? (With added sarcasm) I got the lines very late and need some expert guidance to improve my performance.

When two actors share screen, it is very usual to experience this kind of subtle jealousy. A lot of comments like above are passed on each other which at times lead to a cold war on the sets. Very often when it becomes unbearable to stand the other actor’s success, a co-actor might lose his temper completely, engaging him in a direct stand off on some very trivial issue.

Competition- A more positive form of relationship between actors is that of healthy competition. Whether it is an audition or a shoot, I always try to be one up on my co-actors. My performance should be better than the other actors. This helps one to remain interested in one’s work and at the same time improves the over all quality of a scene. Competition does not mean upstaging others. It means an inner struggle to keep pushing one’s own limits. It becomes enjoyable if your co-actor is competitive and responds to this creative duel. At times it might lead to over acting but than nobody complains, as melodrama is acceptable on TV screen!

2.6.06

Generalizations & Social Clichés in TV Soaps: 5th Posting by INDU VERMA

Literally…If looks could kill… I bet you’ll drop dead. With red streaks in her hair, Grey eyes popping out of her glasses, wearing ultra modern outfit with greasy make-up she barged in the office searching for the assistant to attend her on priority basis. Of course, we all sitting in the lobby recognized her but she refused to share a look. All being television actors carry huge ego, so a similar reaction was justified in return. Now starts the game where the assistants got to balance the situation, giving equal attention to everybody. One by one, actors including me, went in to meet the director. The director looked pretty confused, and my meeting finished pretty fast in comparison to others. Basically we were the selected lot and were there to sign the deal, just after the meeting. But I didn’t or for that matter they did not choose me for the role. Reason? He just could not decide whether I would carry a negative look which they were looking for. Believe me the only girl finalized was the one with Grey eyes, where the director knew she was wearing lenses, but he was too lazy to imagine others with the same look. That was a short-cut to his creative imagination where he did not even bother to strain his mind on creating an actor into a character. This is a generalized notion today where we all accept heavy make-up, Grey eyes and unbelievable hair style, an asset to a Grey shade character. Also a possible scenario is created in our soaps where these characters fit in perfectly against the main protagonist of the show. As per the demand, they conveniently transform on episode to episode basis.

Another regular feature is to opt for the in-laws of the “Bahu”(generally the main protagonist) to do the needful. I had the oppurtunity to play a Grey shade character in one of our famous dailies. I was lucky to look ‘Myself’ and yet play the shade. Of course some of the situations given were unbelievable, yet better in comparison to others. But this was hillarious! The main protagonist, at a particular point in the story, was supposed to slap me tight. She at first did not agree to do such a scene as she was shit scared to slap a co- actor. Every time she would rehearse and stop at a point where she was about to approach towards me. I had to really convince her, that I would not mind and she can slap me in reality and not cheat the action. Finally one fine shot, she managed to overcome her hesitation and slapped me hard, but as she hit me, before I could react, she immediately started crying and started apologizing and did not even wait for director’s call to cut the scene. We all burst out laughing as I was the one who was supposed to cry, and she was to go on yelling even after the slap. Finally we had to take the scene in separate shots as in “close-ups” where she only cheated slapping someone and I had to separately react. A contrast to the above shade is of course positive, but what we see on television is something, which the Indian audience falls in love with. A character, which is clean, humble, and someone, who is always a sympathy seeker. All female oriented shows (as the target audience is household women) narrate the story of a woman who faces the hardships (all we have is SAAS or other in-laws) of life and struggle to change the negative characters into positive ones. Come what may she struggles generation after generation and remains nice and loyal to the family. She in a way is the lifeline of the show. She is generally the most important ingredient to the TRP recipe. Wonder how the women in India manage to believe or for that matter identify with such characters? I think I know the answer. The visualization of their ideal character is somewhere close to the television protagonist. She works as the emotional support for the household women and they in turn sympathize with her at every stage of her life.

I have heard my grandmother saying, “ Bichaari har pal marti rahti hai, phir bhi iski saas ko shanti nahi milti”. But there is another angle to these positives and negatives. How do they survive? What do they do to earn their bread and butter? It is a shown fact that all of them always belong to high class well off families, but do the members ever go to work, or their office revolves around home and family matters? How come there is always a huge drawing-room in every house and everybody sits all dressed-up in a semi-circle? Such questions and many more will never find answers till the show has a story…till there is a beginning and an end to a story.

Shooting for a show, I by chance asked the director, Sir I enter the room and start searching for something. What is it that I’m searching?

He coolly replied, It hasn’t been written as of now, when the revelation point comes later in the story, we’ll think of something.

The show ended but I still do not know what it was. We actors are now pretty used to playing scenes mechanically as the emotions are enacted by the camera, dialogue by the number of cuts, and motivation I guess is itself decided by the audience. Pardon me for saying the truth, but we all know the story of the show, we all know what will happen next even before it is shown on the screen… because it is a regular feature in every episode, same in all the soaps, generalized version in all the stories featuring cliché characters…Yet we continue to WATCH!

28.6.06

Money, Madness and Morality (6th Posting) by: Indu Verma

The famous ALFRED HITCHCOCK was once questioned by one of his Actors…

Sir, what is my MOTIVATION to enter the room?

Hitchcock replied, YOUR SALARY.

So, the important factor called Motivation should always be addressed on priority basis. And the motivating factor for the television industry is TRP. This is a place where Money of course is God and TRP is the boss. Sorry, we are not here to use this medium as an art form or a medium of giving a social message or a medium of pure entertainment or a source of documenting true stories or a source of dramatizing fiction It is only a mode of minting MONEY, it is only a source of earning “Gold Plated” Bread & Butter, it is only BUSINESS. Among the maddening world of soaps, I happened to once shake hands with a Medical Awareness Show where I was to Anchor the show with an Animated Character as my co-actor. On the initial narration, I was pretty hesitant about doing it because I was an Alien to this world which was (as far as the script and acting style was concerned) new to me. It did not have the regular features of a daily, weekly or an episodic show. It also sounded boring to go on talking without anybody around because the Animated Character was to be created in post-production. But I agreed to do it. Just for money. Not once did I think that I’ll be the one, making people aware of the Deadly Diseases like AIDS and HIV. We, the Actors are in a way, a medium to help create a better society, portraying the do’s and the don’t s. Anyway, we started shooting. Suddenly, I was on a set where I had this strange feeling of loneliness. With no actor around, I felt a little out of place. As the episodes went by, I realized, that because the Producers were unable to cope up with the required shooting speed, they started chopping the extra bit which they thought could be filled in with the voice-overs. In a way, the motivation was to complete two episodes in a day, which was only possible with this solution. Fair enough, but what about the extra information which possibly could help in any way. More so, none of the popular channels have this as a running show on prime time. Is it because they are not interested showing or nobody is interested watching. The remote control is the easy way for you but replacement of the show is the only solution for us. And I may not get my money if the running show is discontinued because probably the production house might not get the same from the Channel.

For that matter, there is a possibility of Channel not getting money from sponsors who might feel that they were not marketed or publicized enough because of the non-popularity of the show. The Channel might blame the Producers for a bad show who in return might say that the publicity wasn’t good enough on Channel’s part. And the blame game continues… Popular is the key word and every body wants and got to stick to it. You may say, we have no morals for we show all kind of bull-shit on television, which is so unreal, so unbelievable, so predictable, same in all shows, yet we don’t mind repeating the same. As long as we are paid, we are here to stay. I am no one to even talk on this issue as I myself am a part of the industry under scanner. All allegations are true to any extent. Because if I start questioning the content, I will be shown the Exit Door. I dare not do that or for that matter anybody cannot. We are mere puppets and the strings are in the hands of the masters… The Channel. But, come to think of it, the Channel will produce, market and telecast the shows which are able to return their cost with profit. And the shows will make profit only if there is viewer ship in return. So it is a cyclic movement which probably might change when diverted to a different orbital path. Who will take the initiative?

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