For some stars in the Kannada film industry, it was the magic of television that got them on to the big screen. Careers of Ganesh, Yash, Radhika Pandit stand as examples.
Stars like Puneeth Rajkumar and Sudeep who have already established a name for themselves in the celluloid world only got closer to their audiences through reality TV shows like Kannada and Bigg Boss, respectively. However, a reverse trend is now showing through. Actors like Jayaram Karthik, Akul Balaji, Dileep Raj and few others who otherwise would not have drawn much attention with their films, have turned the small screen into a mega screen with their towering presence on it.
One of the most talked of actors on TV is Jayaram Karthik mostly known as JK. His two-word dialogue, ‘Hai Hendti’ in the show Ashwini Nakshatra has become a popular catchphrase and made him a favourite with women aged 16 to 70.
Fate turns around
JK, who has also been a cricketer and plays in celebrity cricket matches, is now finding stardom through his tele-series. He says of his fame, “I always wanted to make it big and started with a few negative roles in films, essentially to learn acting. My aim was to be a lead actor. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. When I was offered Ashwini Nakshatra and was asked to play a superstar in it, I sensed potential. I realised that it was a big offer for me, where I could play the lead role. The script was fantastic, in fact it felt like it was written for me,” says JK.
Like JK, Akul Balaji too did a few films but it wasn’t until he participated in a reality show that he got famous. “People say they are happy to watch me on television. To me that says that somewhere we are losing film audiences, they are losing interest. Today, even big stars are on TV. The kind of shows I was part of has given me more satisfaction (than being part of films). Here I could create my own style, that’s what people like about me,” says Akul.
“The recognition I couldn’t get by doing 10 films, I got only by doing this serial. I am the talk of every household today and have an unbelievable fan base, which was not so earlier. Now they recognise me not only by my name but also by my acting,” says JK, adding. “My film scenes and dialogues would be cut on the editing table, but this serial has given me screen space. I was not allowed to dub for my films because they did not like my voice. Today, people like the depth of my voice when they hear it on TV.”
Akul has anchored nine reality shows and has been part of two dance shows. “People like my style of presentation. I am also doing a TV serial in Telugu. Now I want to reach out to a wider Asian audience. In fact, I have an offer to be part of a Hindi reality show, but I am still to decide on it,” he says.
TV’s greater demands
Working on the small screen is a non-stop affair. The hours are long with almost 10 to 12 scenes being canned in a day. This means sacrificing personal time. “My son has probably seen me more on-screen than in real life. Luckily, my wife understands the demands of my profession. We put in almost 18 hours of work with five hours of sleep and travel often. It is a roller coaster ride,” says Akul.
Films still a hope
The taste of cinema, it seems is ever-lasting. And the desire to have more haunts. Both JK and Akul still nurse the dream of be successful film actors. “Nearly everybody warned me off TV and asked me to keep trying my luck with films. I go by instinct and sensed that the serial would bring me a bigger opportunities and it did. I will debut in Hindi with Care of Footpath 2, where I play a cop. There are many TV offers, but I may not take up another serial after this. My show is on the silver screen,” says JK.
Akul too has not given up. “I grew up on films. Reality shows created an opportunity to select good scripts. Big or small screen, I need to deliver and make people happy,” he says.