Is “Small” Screen the New “Big” Screen?

There is a striking similarity between Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan; and it’s not about all of them being superstars of Bollywood. It is the fact that all of them have hosted television reality shows; more than one. It definitely made the television shows popular, but this phenomenon of film stars hosting television shows; points to the growing importance of television.

While a film stays in theaters and public memory for a few weeks or months, television shows and advertisements are a part of daily routine for people. By being a part of these shows and advertisements, film stars manage to be news-makers everyday, with regular “small screen” presence. Amitabh Bachchan talks to us everyday from the platform of KBC, while Akshay Kumar is seen doing different stunts in Khatron ke Khiladi.

A recent phenomenon has been the use of popular reality shows and daily soaps, by film stars, for promotion of upcoming releases. Not long back, the stars of the film, Dirty Picture, were seen campaigning for their film across multiple television shows. The stars of the film Bodyguard, Aarakshan, Om Shanti Om etc made their presence felt in daily soaps and reality shows, a week before the film’s release. The producers of the film try and cash in on the high TRP’s of different daily shows, to remind the audiences of the release dates of their new films. What started out as a need of television shows, to engage film stars with them, to achieve increased TRP’s; has now evolved into a need for the biggest film stars; to maintain their popularity.

Not only television shows, the biggest film stars are seen in television advertisements; endorsing products from cars to watches and, from biscuits to cold drinks. Be it Aamir Khan or Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai or Kareena Kapoor; all of them are associated as brand ambassadors with some product or the other. It’s not only the ability to stay in public eye everyday, but also the huge amount of money that these stars earn by doing different shows and advertisements. It is observed that many stars charge the same fees for advertisements, as they charge for a film.

An interesting fact is about the fees charged by film actors and television actors. A recent report in a leading newspaper pointed out that the top television stars earn almost as much as the biggest stars of Bollywood. This points to the fact that television revenues will soon be seen challenging the revenue earned by Bollywood films.

As a medium, television has become more a part of our daily lives, than cinema. It has not only a much wider reach than cinema, but a greater impact on the everyday life of a common man. More and more actors, who were less successful in Bollywood, are now seen reviving their careers with television. Many of them have been highly successful in doing so. In the earlier days, television stars used to look forward to make a career in films. Now, it has started to shape up the other way round. Television, over the years, has gained in popularity to such an extent, that today it has become as important a medium of entertainment as cinema; if not more. In terms of audience appeal and revenue generation, television is competing with Hindi films, and at times beating them. Today Ram Kapoor, a popular television star, can compete with many film stars, in terms of popularity and fan following.

Around 20 years ago, Shahrukh Khan did a television serial named Fauji and then started doing films. So will we now see Amitabh Bachchan as the lead actor in a daily soap? Well, as they say, impossible is nothing.

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