EXCLUSIVE: “I don't want to participate in Bigg Boss,” Avinash Mukherjee
Shakti actor Avinash Mukherjee gets candid about his career in television, his journey and also about reality shows in an exclusive interview with Instafeed
While we all remember the young Jagya and his innocence from Balika Vadhu, that young boy, Avinash Mukherjee is a man now. And this man is doing great for himself on the television space. Currently, an important part of Shakti: Astitva Ke Ehsaas Ki, Avinash got into an exclusive conversation with us sharing his views on the industry, his future plans and also his experience with reality shows.
How has the lockdown been?
It’s been a great learning experience, other than helping those in need around me. I also re-read my favourite books and re-watched my favourite films.
Any skill you learnt or acquired during these months?
It was refuelling your ignition.
Even though people were watching a lot of TV, there was no fresh content. In fact, many shows went off air, the damage was equal to that of the film business, but the coverage given wasn't the same. What do you think?
I think the major difference and conflict between TV and films is that the crew on the film set is paid relatively higher. On TV the payment is very marginal, and its paycheque to pay cheque survival. Which is why CINTAA and other associations were pushing to start work with all necessary precautions. But here it was about survival and waiting for the pandemic to pass.
From Balika Vadhu to Shakti, how have you seen this industry change?
I have seen the television industry very closely for 12 years now. Its been a long, but amazing, exciting and blessed journey. I have seen the change from the time we had a separate recording unit apart from the camera. Then we hadn't accepted digital reels to record, it would be done on tapes and was later shipped to Delhi, from there to Bangkok and from Bangkok it had to be aired. From that to becoming a small chip that fits into your camera. From physical delivery, to upload it online. The opening of web space and data coming in a huge way. TV has grown a lot. In 2015 I went to Indonesia, Vietnam, Jakarta, etc for Balika Vadhu and I saw what Indian television is and what its reach is.
Have things changed in terms of storytelling also?
I don't think so, the audience of television especially in tier 2 and tier 3 cities, in the North, in UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, etc. are the same. They want to see that kitchen politics, the drama, and relationships being broken and mended. They want to see one character destroying another or a character falling in love with another character, so it’s just one story on television. The concepts might be different, but the storyline of every character is the same.
In India we see that TV shows majorly focus on women like Shakti is a story about a transgender woman, Balika Vadhu was more of Anandi's story. Do you think in a way television is a woman's medium?
Yes, it is, because our audience is the women between 35-50 years from tier 2 - tier 3 cities. Who watches TV while doing daily chores. The film industry is male-dominated, and it’s talked about, but TV is dominated by women and no one talks about it.
Don't you think we need fresh concepts coming in where stories revolve around the men.
Yes, but it wouldn't work because at the end of the day we are telling stories for the audience, and if that 45-year-old woman doesn't connect with the story, then what’s the point of us telling a story.
Don't you think this constant focus on the women puts a kind of pressure on them where people are expecting their daughters-in-law to be like the ones they see on TV, it also leads to a lot of stereotyping.
Every story is different and people relate to characters only in 2 ways - either you would want to be like that character or you would want that character to be in your life. And that is a tendency, for example, if I am watching Kabir Singh, I would want a girl like Preeti in my life. It is just human tendency, if you see Superman you would want to be like Superman. So I don't think that there is stereotyping because you don't just consume one piece of content in a day, you consume a lot of content.
In these 12 years we have seen you do some popular TV shows, but we never saw you explore the reality show format. Why has that been the case?
Because a long time back I had done a reality show called Maa Exchange. There was a lot of conflicts, the makers had told us something else, we shot something else and the final result we saw on TV was completely South from what we discussed in the first meeting and the reason why we agreed. My parents agreed to that show thinking it was a parenting show, but once we saw the final edit it was completely different from the international version clips that were shown to us.
But then there are other reality shows like Jhalak Diklaja, Bigg Boss, etc. Why didn't you try those?
I keep my ambitions and dreams very high, and keep working harder for it every day. I don't want to participate in Bigg Boss, but I want to watch the show. Participating in Jhalak Diklaja and Nach Baliye doesn't give me the kick, which going to the set and reading scripts does. As an actor you need to act every day, that is what I enjoy.
There is an assumption that actors enter Bigg Boss to revive their otherwise dull career, do you agree with this assumption?
I have never thought about this, so I don't know. It depends on the individual and how they think about it.
Any plans to explore the web-space or Bollywood?
Only films, but after 6-7 years.
Don't you think transitioning into films would get very different then, especially, with entire Sushant Singh Rajput case now? We have seen a lot of TV actors’ share their struggle stories.
I don't think it will be easier or difficult, because every person on this planet either wants to be or have dreamt of being an actor. So the competition is really tough, but what matters is your luck, hard work and the story that you are telling. It doesn't matter if you are coming from television, we have had people come from Hollywood, regional cinema, and not done well here. And people have come from Marathi TV shows and done wonderfully.
What's next for you on the work front?
A lot of things, during the lockdown I opened another business related to fantasy gaming. I am shooting for Shakti and I have written a web-series. I am not acting in it, but all 8 episodes are written by me. The name of the show is Ilzaam and it’s a murder mystery.
Interview & Written by: Nawaz Kochra