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Small is unsuccessful?

SUBHASH KUMAR JHA

Television: Why do film icons fail on the small screen? And will Hema Malini be an exception?



FROM CELLULOID TO TV : Their larger-than-life image does not lend itself to soap sketches, Amitabh Bachchan (KBC) being a rare exception: Karisma Kapoor serial, `Karishma.

From Sharmila Tagore and Urmila Matondkar on Doordarshan's Zindagi two decades ago to Hema Malini who is currently seen in the double role of Kamini-Damini on Sahara One, cine-deities have been forever tempted and lured to grace the small screen. But what has been the success rate? Film icons never seem to find their feet on the home-viewing medium.

Take a look: Karisma Kapoor in Sahara One's `Karishma The Miracle Of Destiny,' Raveena Tandon in Sahara's `Sahib Bibi Ghulam,' Sridevi in Sahara's `Malini Iyer...' If we go back in time, Nutan was the first screen-queen to really use the miniature space in that corner of your drawing room with grace.

In Rakesh Chowdhary's treatise on feudal failings, Mujrim Haazir, Nutan showed how effectively television could be used to convey emotions too large for a 27-inch screen.



Can Hema turn the tide?

Money matters

Post-Nutan, big-screen divas stayed away from television until some channels made them offers they couldn't resist.

``Frankly I did the game show `Sawaal Dus Crore Ka' for the money. It was tempting and the work was quick," says Manisha Koirala looking back.

This was after the stupendous and pioneering success of Amitabh Bachchan on `Kaun Banega Crorepati.' The game show turned around the fortunes of Star Plus, making it the front-runner in the TRPs. Thereafter the me-too syndrome took over, with Zee launching `Sawaal Dus Crore Ka' with Anupam Kher and Manisha Koirala and Sony going for Govinda to host `Jeeto Chappad Phaad Ke,' both miserable failures even though Govinda got his pals from the industry like Raveena Tandon and Mahima Chowdhary take the hot seat.

Govinda refuses to accept that Chappad Phaad Ke failed. ``According to me success and failure are relative terms. I enjoyed my stint on television and wouldn't mind going back to the medium."



The Sridevi comedy.

Barring Bachchan's KBC all the game shows with big stars flopped, prompting the channels to invent other ways of putting big-screen stars on television. Sony Entertainment came up with a match-making potential moolah-machine called `Kahin Na Kahin Koi Hai,' the channel's biggest fiasco to date. Sony licked its wounds while Madhuri laughed all the way to her American bank.

Stars and soaps

Raveena who did a watchable adaptation of Bimal Mitra's `Sahib Bibi Ghulam' loved the experience. ``I don't know how well the series did. But I didn't look at it as a full-fledged serial. It was more on the lines of a mini-series, like the one Sophia Loren did — `Sophia Loren: Her Own Story' — or BBC's wonderful adaptation of Jane Austen's `Pride & Prejudice.'" Karisma Kapoor who starred in television's first multi-starrer, `Karishma The Miracle Of Destiny,' (with Sanjay Kapoor, Arbaaz Khan, Jugal Hansraj, Arshad Warsi, etc) is richer by many crores. The same cannot be said about the parent-channel Sahara.

No wonder television tycoon Ekta Kapoor shies away from signing big-screen stars. ``Big stars want big money. But that's not the main reason why I don't want stars in my serials. It's a proven fact that stars don't work on television. And that's because they come with fixed and powerful larger-than-life images. After watching Shah Rukh play Badshah no one would want to see him as Mihir in `Kyunkii Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi.' I've taken Amrita Singh in `Kavyanjali' because she's been away from acting for so long.

It's a new beginning for her." And never mind if `Mihir' Amar Upadhyay found no takers in cinema and had to slink back into the medium he tried so hard to shrug off.



The Miracle Of Destiny,' was a damp squib, the Govinda game show

Star's head honcho Samir Nair agrees with Ekta. ``We at one time planned a serial with Shah Rukh Khan playing a kind of Superman with lots of special effects. We had to drop the idea. The serials demand their own faces. Stars are created on the soaps through the characters they play. Everywhere, Smriti Irani and Amar Upaddhyay are known as Tulsi and Mihir, though the latter gave up playing the character long back."

The latest star entrant is Hema Malini in `Kamini Damini.' Hema is no stranger to the home viewing medium. She did a lengthy dance-based series called Nupoor for television years ago. And now when `Baghban' makers B. R. Chopra and Ravi Chopra offered her a tempting cheque Hema could not resist it.

Whether `Kamini Damini' will do a turn-around or not, big-screen stars are likely to get rare on television except of course Amitabh Bachchan who's all set to return with KBC in June. Says AB, ``When I did KBC everyone including my wife discouraged me. But there were financial compulsions. Besides I wanted to explore the new medium. We never knew KBC would work in such a big way. It opened up new doors to my own creativity and for the channel (Star). I don't know why other stars haven't worked on TV. But I would have no problems returning to television, provided I find the time."

There's talk of Sahara roping in Mr. Bachchan.

``Several ideas are being discussed. But nothing concrete as yet," says Big B.

Will he encore his game show's success on fiction programming on TV? Or are cine-icons too big for the boob tube?

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