Clad in a sequined sari with a thick-bordered zari on the pallu, a multiple rowed bindi and chandelier earrings, the heroine of the serial in a Swift, slams the door, and the episode comes to an end.
That Tamil serials have the women hooked on to the TV is old news. But the new trend is that these serials have influenced many homemakers and working professionals to change their wardrobes, thanks to the exquisite costumes that characters wear.
The bob cut and those silky nighties worn by Devipriya in Chellamey caught the attention of many homemakers in the South. Also, the chiffon and pattu saris that she wore in Madhavi created much buzz following it’s run on television. Remember the serial Kalasam on Sun TV, where Sudha Chandran presented an array of her avant garde saris with designer blouses that made everyone’s head turn. Temple jewellery became the in-thing after the lead characters adorned them in Soundaravalli that used to air on Jaya TV.
However, these are top stars in small screen and hence, their clothes are sponsored. The jewellery, though, is not free. Actors have to bring their own blings!
But the junior artistes who play sister roles or appears as a friend of the heroine — do they get such benefits as well? “No, not all of us are lucky,” says Neelima, who plays Amudha in Chellamey in Sun TV. Apparently most of the junior artistes are paid less, and so they stick to their budget.
Few buy clothes for `200 or `300 and they don’t buy the expensive stuff. Most of their clothes are repetitive in various serials. Initially, any actress who steps into doing serials, spends a very small amount on her costumes. Amudha confides, “When I started doing serials, I was paid a very meagre amount and couldn’t buying saris or salwars every week. I’d pick up a few sets of saris, which I would wear for one serial and use again for the next serial on another channel. This way, people didn’t recognise the outfit and it was feasible for me also.”
Any junior artist would find it difficult to make a daily sari purchase for `500, if her payment for a day is `1500. The actors get roles according to their pay grades. Explains Devipriya, “Not all of us are rich enough to afford costumes for our roles. I remember playing a small town girl when I entered this industry. At that time, it was difficult for me to buy jewellery and matching saris every fortnight itself. But now, after doing quite a few good roles, I have gained an identity. So all the roles that I play are either a well-to-do family girl or a rich baddie. And I can afford to buy costumes.”
While most of them consider it an investment, a few just can’t afford such high maintenance standards. Should costumes in serials be sponsored? “If this were the case, even we would then start saving some money for ourselves,” says Neelima.
So, talent alone isn’t enough even in serial business. Just like Ktown, tall budgets seem to be pose a challenge every step of the way until one reaches a ‘senior’ status in the industry.