Producer Rajan Shahi, the man who is friendly and very understanding towards actors, talks about actors and the rightful ways in which they need to handle success and even failure.

Actors are the lifeline of every TV show!! The important face to which the audience connects and the journey goes on….

For us makers, actors are the ones who relay our creativity, thought process of the entire team to the viewers…. Whatever we want to tell via our story line is through the characters, which are played by actors.

I come from a school of thought wherein I have worked with people like Mahesh Bhattji, Raviji who has followed on the path of Bhatt sahib. The one thing I have learnt is that one should nurture actors, fall in love with them and create an environment around them wherein they can perform to the best of their abilities. As a maker, one has to be the psychologist who sees to it that everything around is conducive for an actor. In the same breath, I will also say that good actors do understand and realize that a good team work is needed to make a show. Yes, actors are very important but at the end of the day it is the team work that matters. No one person can make a show, whether it is the writer, producer, director or even the actor. A good team that comes together and works together can deliver together.

Life is a big learning curve and I have learnt many things with experience. What goes up has to come down. And the one who handles himself well even in failure will be the one to bounce back

In my 24 years of experience in the industry, I have seen all kinds of actors – extremely professional ones, the actors who are mediocre and the ones who are bad too. What has happened in the TV industry is that everyone does a huge volume of work, irrespective of the department he/she belongs to. Everything happens at a fast pace. There is a huge demand for every department. Hence, mediocracy has set in considering the fact that TV industry bestows actors with instant fame and recognition. But I have noticed that the industry offers everything on a platter – instant fame, instant recognition, instant rejection, instant failure too!! So everything is so very instant and quick that very few actors are able to carry their good body of work and sustain. The flash-in-the-pan kind of actors who are really one show wonders do not have it in them to emerge victorious after the initial success they get. I have seen many actors falling prey to the perils of instant stardom and instant social media recognition. It is always important to not take success too seriously that you lose your way. At the same time, you should not take failure too seriously that you crumble under its pressure.

Once an actor delivers a hit show or is part of a hit reality show, there is huge adulation that comes his/her way. Everyone will suddenly get interested in what you do, what you eat, how you live etc, and only few can handle all this on a long run. Only the sensible and good professionals carry the fame and understand the ups and downs of the industry. You tell me, how many actors have been able to sustain and recreate the success and magic throughout their career?  Life is a big learning curve and I have learnt many things with experience. What goes up has to come down. And the one who handles himself well even in failure will be the one to bounce back.

If you ask me, the biggest test and report card for an actor lies in the manner in which he behaves with the 100 people in the unit on a day to day basis. Of course, putting up a good face before the press, friends and few co-actors does not exactly show you where you stand. The real test is in the way an actor gets ranked by his own unit members every day. This actually matters a lot in the larger perspective when it comes to surviving in the industry. Ranking in terms of popularity is certainly important, and actors do check how they rate in terms of popularity. All of it is needed too and is certainly accepted. After all, perception does create stars and the visibility factor matters. But at the end of the day, as I told you earlier, it is all about maintaining the respect and sustaining the success got.

As an actor, the very important thing is to know your craft well. When the going is good, everyone will pamper you as there is lot at stake. From the channel’s topmost person to the producer, everyone will sing in praise of the actor, as he / she is the face of the show. Afterall, there is lot at stake and the going needs to be smooth. The one thing I keep telling all my actor friends is that if you have a very good attitude, people around you will help you cushion yourself even during your low. But if an actor is temperamentally bad, and has not been good to people around him during his high, the industry can be very much unforgiving.

If an actor has any kind of problems, it is always better to sit, talk and sort it out. I believe that nearly 80 percent of the problems can be sorted by talking. There are few actors who think that throwing tantrums is actually a mark of being popular and being a star. Yes, as a maker, I will be able to take the tantrum of an actor who is creatively very good and is superbly talented. After all, every creative person gets moody at times. But there is a certain section of actors who throw tantrums even when they are not really good at their craft. I have seen actors behaving extremely rude with the unit members, hair dresser etc. But the moment the show ends, they end up behaving very cosily with the same people. The biggest teacher is actually the time when an actor sits at home looking for work. Also, holding a high attitude when you don’t have work, will not help the cause. An actor will face a time when he will have to make that call and tell the world that he needs work. So don’t hesitate to look for work and don’t keep problems to yourself, as that can lead you to a phase of dejection. Be good to all at all times, and you will receive the same!!!

Recently, I had to make a big and strong decision in my life along with my creative team.Nobody is above a show, not a writer, producer, nor an actor

We, as makers, want to project our show and our actors very well. So we are at times partial and biased towards our own actors. But trust me, respect needs to be commanded, not demanded. Remember that you might be in the forefront, but with time, a new row might be created before you in no time. So it is important to understand that you should respect everyone. That is one reason why I make it a point to involve my entire team during get-togethers and functions. I want my actors to know the writers, editors and everyone behind the camera who work all day and night to give them their scenes. In our recent Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai function, people from all departments of Yeh Rishta were present. In fact, we had even organized a lucky draw contest for our workers, and all our actors stayed an extra hour and cheered for them as they played. After all these are the same workers who remain on sets even after a long day of shoot to see to it that all is in place for the actors to come the next day and take charge of shoot again.

Talking about the much-dreaded ‘star’ attitude, I think the day an actor decides to make the other actors wait on set for the shoot to start, the starry attitude begins. I detest the fact that few actors make it a habit to make others on the set wait for them. At the same time, I admire and praise the actors who have maintained the habit of coming on time and leaving on time. These are the basic etiquettes needed in bringing a family together. The sad part is that few actors find pleasure in making the entire crew and actors wait. Also not forgetting the enmity and clashes that actors have within themselves!! In the same breath, I will want to say that I am very friendly with my actors, and most of my close friends in the industry happen to be actors. As a maker, I give all the room possible for an actor to showcase his / her creativity; I welcome creative thoughts and discussions made by actors. But I cannot stand the ones dictating terms without even understanding the pulse of show making.

Recently, I had to make a big and strong decision in my life along with my creative team. With due respect to whoever has been part of the long journey of Yeh Rishta, I put forward a question to all as to whether we function just for the sake of it or take pride in making a show with all conviction. Indeed, it was a huge decision which I took after discussing with my creative team. The aspects before us were whether we are happy with what we are making at the end of the day, or are dragged every day to doing a certain thing. Nobody is above a show, not a writer, producer, not an actor. Content is supreme and considering the fact that we could not solve the actor issue before us, we had to decide whether we are confident enough of taking the show forward even without the actor and character. Let me tell you, in majority of cases, the creative team and makers can take enormous creative decisions without panicking under pressure. That’s the strength the pen has and the script has!!! If an actor owing to his / her starry tantrums does not allow the creative content to come to the forefront, the show will in any case close down. In such cases, if the creative team is confident enough of pulling it off with the pen, there is nothing like it!! And today, Yeh Rishta is a very clear example when we say that a team can sail through even the rough tides, if the people in charge hold on to it and battle it out.

Renuka Shahane, Pallavi Joshi, Sachin Khedekar, Rohini Hattangady, Mona Singh, Kiran Karmarkar, Adaa Khan, Kinshuk Mahajan, Angad Hasija and Kritika Kamra are full of humility, sincerity and dedication

In the past, there have been many cases wherein the broadcaster has been stern on considering a particular actor, or has been biased towards a particular actor. This has in many cases resulted in the actor taking undue advantage. My golden rule is that nothing in life is indispensable. But today, the trend is changing and even the broadcasters understand that accepting starry tantrums will only harm the show in the longer run. Also, makers have become more vocal now and the same can be said of the creative team too.

Having said this, it is a natural phenomenon when it comes to actors being showered with all the love by viewers. After all, we strive hard to create this situation as we want our actors to be loved and praised. Every department that gets involved in the making of a show go al out to create this world for actors. And when my actors do a good job, I am the first person to praise and appreciate them for the efforts put in. As a Producer, I have never held an image wherein I shy away from praising my actors. In fact, there have been people who have tried stopping me from doing this, as it might be taken advantage of.

But as I said earlier, every day is a new beginning and we all need to strive hard to create a good report card for ourselves. I cannot just stay in the limelight for all the time because I have given good shows in the past. I need to keep the good work going. The same holds good for actors too. Actors simply cannot rest on the laurels of the past work and need to keep doing quality work.

Talking about actors who have been really professional in their approach in their entire career, I think names like Renuka Shahane, Pallavi Joshi, Sachin Khedekar, Rohini Hattangady, Mona Singh, Kiran Karmarkar come to my knowledge. There are many youngsters too who are full of humility, sincerity and dedication. Some of them I have worked with are Adaa Khan, Kinshuk Mahajan, Angad Hasija and Kritika Kamra.

On an ending note, I would like to tell the actors of today to stay grounded and respectful to people around them. This will fetch them results in the long run!!

(As told to Srividya Rajesh)

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