Changing mediums

Changing mediums

A versatile actor with an aura of intelligence, Abhay Deol, who’s had a successful run in films, has now turned to television. Srabanti Chakrabarti talks to the actor about his latest stint as the host of a reality show.

 He is very unlike a Deol — he does not have six packs, stays away from action films, and has got an intellectual aura around him. Perhaps these are the essential traits that make him successful.

Yes, there are no second guesses about Abhay Deol, whose films DevD, Shanghai, Manorama Six Feet Under have helped him create a niche place for himself in the industry. After movies, however, Abhay has set his eyes on television and has debuted on television with the show, Connected HumTum, on Zee.

Having wrapped up his schedule for his home production with girlfriend Preeti Desai, he has now donned the avatar of a host for the show. The show revolves around the day-to-day life of six women contestants. Radio jockey Malishka will be the only celebrity contestant in the show.

So, why suddenly television? Or is it a break from the monotony of films? Abhay contemplates for a while before answering, “I did not give it a lot of thought. I will be the sutradhar (narrator) and will try to establish a connection between the audience and contestants every day. While choosing to do the show, I did have a question at the back of my mind — whether this will harm my image.

But then I realised that I have done many films, which people had asked me not to. Frankly, I do not have an image like my contemporaries. So, I did not have to worry about it. I think this show suits my personality.” That’s Abhay — as candid as ever.

A total of 65 episodes over 13 weeks is what the show will demand from Abhay. How is he feeling? “You know this is a funny thing, but if they had asked me to participate in a show like this, I would have never accepted the offer. I am not comfortable with the idea of showcasing and discussing my daily life on camera.

I belong to a known family and I managed to stay out of the limelight before I joined the industry,” he says. But then, why is he anchoring it? He explains, “This is not a reality show. The basic idea is to get families to communicate and understand relationships better.”

Abhay goes on to explain further why he took up this show. “Television was never a part of any pre-planned agenda for me. I have no rigid rules in life. I just believe in seizing the moment. I have always gone with my gut as far as my choice of films is concerned, and this show is no exception. I did not take on this assignment looking at it as a switch to television. It was the concept that appealed to me, and television as a medium was only incidental. We need more shows like this in our culture,” he elaborates.

“Plus, this is a show that will help everyone understand women better. The show asks a simple question — ‘why is it so difficult to understand women?’. I completely identify with the question and do not find it chauvinistic or offensive towards women.

Women, as wonderful as they are, are a very intriguing maze that men can only hope to decipher and many of us just wade through life often baffled and stumped by them. It’s because we’re wired differently. The show aims to understand six women of today, and help us in turn understand the women of our own lives better. I’m sure the audience will appreciate this, as they will instantly connect with these women and their lives.”

He also goes on to explain again why he does not want to do this show as a participant. “As an actor, I face the camera and lay my emotions bare for the world to see. But, after pack-up, taking a camera back home and living my life in front of the lens is something I could never do. Hats off to these women. They are much stronger than men in every way. They can handle things that we can’t even dream of. Men aren’t as capable.”

Now that he is doing a television show, what are the differences he sees with a film? “Television has phenomenal reach. It’s everywhere and has an everyday connect with the audience. Since cinema is a one-time viewing experience, it is a different ball game. In television, the challenge is to sustain audience interest in a story for weeks and months that a show continues to air.

With films, though you need to keep an audience engrossed for just three hours, the expectations are of a very different order. It’s for an actor to leverage the strengths of each medium to his advantage,” says the actor, who used to watch shows like Humlog, Ramayan and Mahabharat, but now hardly watches television.

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