How many Indians remember that Vidya Balan, who is now one of the top star actresses began her career with Hum Paanch on a satellite channel? But if one has to scan history, Shah Rukh Khan remains the biggest Indian star ever to have emerged from television. His first serial for Doordarshan was in Fauji followed by Circus. The rest, as the clichéd saying goes, is history. For some, like Smriti Malhotra Irani and Amar Upadhyaya, who became household names with Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi failed to create even a ripple on the big screen. Amar featured in a few horror films and tried to come back to television.
The world is full of miracles, especially in the glamorous world of stardom. Since the alternate mass channel of television opened up leading to the mushrooming of satellite channels, actors, technicians, singers and musicians had the option to explore both. The history of television is a revelation of great talent that later re-invented success on its own terms on the big screen.
The latest to join the Bollywood club is the pot-bellied, fat and charming Ram Kapoor, who created a great fan world with Kasamh Se opposite Prachi Desai from Surat. Now comes the news that he is quitting Bade Acche Lagte Hain in which his character is named after his real name Ram Kapoor because he cannot devote time to television. He bagged the Indian Telly Award for Best Actor consecutively for three years. He began with serials much before with Nyay (1997), Heena (1998), and Sangharsh (1999) but pulled eyeballs with Kasamh Se and never looked back.
Prachi Desai, who played his much younger wife in Kasamh Se, quit the small screen for films like Rock On and Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai. She has starred in seven films and won the trophy in Jhalak Dikhla Jaa.
There is no explanation about why some television actors became big on the big screen after their stint on the small screen because success in both worlds is tinged with a large dose of uncertainty and risk. Some good actors like Ronit Roy did not get even quarter of audience attention on the big screen that his small screen portrayals are getting him. The latest example is Adaalat. Anoop Soni, who anchors Crime Patrol and was a big hit with Balika Vadhu could not impress in films. His colleague Sushant Singh, who anchors Savdhaan India on a parallel channel, is doing well in both fields. Shekhar Suman is perhaps a sterling example who hit big time because his films flopped even with a film like Shyam Benegal’s Utsav opposite Rekha.
In the recent times, the number of small screen stars making it big on the large screen is multiplying everyday beginning with Ayushmann Khurrana, a talented lyricist and singer, to boot who began as an anchor in a reality show and won the MTV Roadies series in 2004. He proved his versatility as the unforgettable, irrepressible sperm donor in Vicky Donor. His ‘doctor’ Annu Kapoor, who makes a living through sperm selling and buying in the same film, began with television too though he was armed with a degree from the National School of Drama, Delhi. His film career began with Basu Chatterjee’s Ek Ruka Hua Faisla. Today, he is among the fortunate and ingenious few who have struck a wonderful balancing act in both worlds of big and small screen with the National Award for Best Supporting Actor for Vicky Donor.
Yami Gautam who played Ashima, the Bengali girlfriend of Ayushmann in Vicky Donor, began her career with Chand Ke Paar Chalo, followed by Raajkumar Aaryyan and Pyar Na Hoga Kam. She does have the X-factor that carries promise though her Total Siyappa floundered at the boxoffice.
Pulkit Samrat, who starred as Lakshya Virani in Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi made his film debut with Bittoo Boss and thereafter did Fukrey, which was a hit.
Girls who drooled over the devastatingly handsome Rajeev Khandelwal in Aamir should know that he too, owes his acting roots to serials like Banphool on DD followed by Kya Hadsaa Kya Haqeeqat, Kahiin To Hoga or as Captain Rajveer Singh Shekhawat in Left Right Left? He became an overnight star with Aamir followed by Shaitan, and though he makes occasional appearances on reality shows, he has created a niche audience with his films. He is equally fluent as the anchor of Sach Ka Saamna as he is in his histrionic skills in Samrat & Co.
Sushant Singh Rajput, with his ebullient charm and youthful vigour is the biggest big screen discovery today who has done brilliantly in Kai Po Che as one of the three friends, one of them Amit Sadh also from television. Shudh Desi Romance was also a reasonable hit and he is here to stay. Rajput’s working diary is choc-a-bloc with Peekay in which he is working with Aamir Khan and is playing the lead in Dibakar Banerjee’s Detective Bomkesh Bakshi in the lead. His television career was also generously filled with success in every serials he worked in. He began with Kis Desh Mein Hai Meraa Dil in a supporting role and later graduated to the male lead in Pavitra Rishta. He honed his dancing talents under Shiamak Davar, which brought him close to winning the trophy in Jhalak Dikhla Jaa Season Four.
Then there is Siddharth Shukla, who has to his credit serials like Babul Ka Aangann Chootey Na and Balika Vadhu. He will soon be seen in Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania.
One of the most exceptional examples of a wannabe star's big leap from the small screen to the big one is none other than Sunny Leone who has graduated from to ‘big’films in Bollywood and has declared that she will only do serious roles minus skin show. And she is not even Indian!