These days OTT platforms are milling good actors, many theatre artists have ruled these mediums, be it Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Rajshri Deshpande, Kubra Seth in ‘Sacred Games’ or Radhika Apte in ‘Ghoul’ or Aditi Pohankar in ‘She’, Pankaj Tripathi and others in ‘Mirzapur’. These actors are a treat to the audience. Somewhere the monotonous superstar images are overpowered by these actors. They live the characters that they relate to and influence the common public.
On the other hand, there are a series of so-called megastars. Salman Khan’s stardom has faded in the recent past. Be it Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan or for that matter even much-hyped Kangana Ranaut, could not make much impact after two or three successful movies. Their repetitious acting could not captivate audiences for long. She might have won national awards one after another (not difficult to guess how), but the fact is that she gave all super-duper flops in series. Sanjay Dutt to Salman, many megastars are doing their movies in certain intervals and they have their set of audiences but they could never be good actors. With thousands of retakes and good editing skills, picture corrections, they could project their hero image and we all know heroes come and go.
There are some theatre artists like Makarand Deshpande, Neeraj Kabi, Ratna Pathak, late Girish Karnad and many more who made a huge impact on audiences. I would like to mention Makarand Deshpande directed and written drama ‘Ram’, a witty op-ed in Hindi imparts the wisdom that God inhabits hearts and minds, not real estate. Makarand, Nagesh Bhosle, Madhuri Gawli, Aakanksha Gade all of them are power-packed performers. Nagesh Bhosle appeared in various roles in Marathi daily and his presence dominates the entire soap.
These days many superstars are restored to television as reality show judges or anchors. They really had to start from where they began. Meanwhile, theatre personalities have taken a leap at OTT; these actors have talent and willingness to work hard to get into the character that can keep their audiences glued.
Theatre is always a challenge because it is right in front of real audiences. There is no scope for retake or picture correction. Theater acting requires the stamina and focus to work for two or three hours straight. Film acting is comparatively now so challenging because there they have a scope of correction. Theatre is hard because you can’t just stop and try again if you make a mistake.
Some plays are harder for some actors than some films. Some films are harder for some actors than some plays. Good acting is good acting, and the film is very different from the stage. There are many, many actors in India trying to break into a film who have never been on a stage in their lives. This isn’t necessarily a terrible thing for the state of acting in general, because film and stage are so very different displays.
Someone who is astounding at theatre might have initial difficulty toning down their technique for film, and someone who is a mesmerizing film actor might look like a stiff, nervous, quiet weirdo on stage. Some actors learn to perform well at both, like Makrand Deshpande, Paresh Rawal, Pankaj Kapoor, Rohini Hattangadi and many more. I believe that either type of actor can cross over to the other side nicely with the help of a director who really understands acting. If an actor himself is a writer and director, then the stage is all his.
The stage is an actor’s medium and film is a director’s medium. There are many elaborate methods to philosophize your way around this simple truth (including discussions about celebrity, public image, and marketing, the intervention of executives, studio clout and Bollywood politics) but it is the truth nonetheless.
How can I forget Shyam Benegal, who is a master of parallel cinema, he gave us the best actors like Naseeruddin Shah, he was one of the first actors, who came and changed the way people look at the actors. He was an actor who took parallel cinema to its height in the 70s and 80s. Om Puri is another great hero with a very average look, Irrfan wanted to leave acting because he was not getting work because of his looks. He died as a superstar in Bollywood and Hollywood. Nana Patekar, when Govinda, Shah Rukh, Salman, Aamir and others were at the peak in the industry, he changed the narrative of HERO.
Manoj Bajpayee, Sanjay Mishra, KK Menon, Konkana Sen Sharma, Boman Irani, Rajpal Yadav, Anupam Kher, Anant Mahadevan (the list is endless but mentioning few prominent names) are the trendsetters in Bollywood. No matter how the Box office collection is, kind of criticism, their only agenda is to perform well in each and every take. They are above all that melodrama, beating villains, doing romantic songs, caring for his family etc all good deeds etc. Doing all good itself is admired by people because we are conditioned with that definition of Good since childhood.
The Bollywood movies exploit the emotion of people and make the prominent character of the movie as a highly ethical and able person, who often makes the impossible possible. People try to imagine a real-life hero in these characters. But in real life, they get disappointed, because such heroes hardly exist in Indian society. Also, most of the common people do not have the courage to do the right thing in tough situations. Not able to relate any living person with the heroism, they, in turn, idolize the actors. This is where all goes wrong.
Theater acting requires a wide range of skills, including vocal projection, clarity of speech, physical expressivity, emotional facility, a well-developed imagination, and the ability to interpret drama. At times, actors may also be called upon to employ dialects, accents and body language, improvisation, observation and emulation, mime, and stage combat. In order to develop these skills, many actors rehearse their roles and it takes a lot of effort. Today India has really very talented actors, directors and writers. They won millions of hearts just by their acting abilities without getting into false stardom.