Gone are the days when male actors had nothing substantial to contribute to a story on television soaps. TV has traditionally been an actress’ medium, and till not long ago the men before the camera were little more than props, as ‘saas’ and ‘bahu’ squared up. A slew of new shows is changing that equation.
To begin with, there is “Aapki Nazron Ne Samjha”, where actor Vijayendra Kumeria plays a visually-impaired photographer. “Hero: Gayab Mode On” is woven around Abhishek Nigam’s character, who is on a quest to find his father. “Tera Yaar Hoon Main”, departing from saas-bahu cliches, is for a change about a father and son. “Amma Ke Babu Ki Baby” has Karan Khanna playing a man trying to balance life between his mother and wife.
The pertinent thing here is not just that these are male-centric shows according the lead role and maximum footage to male actors. Importantly, they look at life from the perspective of men, quite unlike the tradition on Indian fiction television.
“Aapki Nazron Ne Samjha” producer Sonali Jaffar says the emerging trend is just a part of the larger maxim that television stories are generally about the underdog in society.
“Men in Indian soaps have been behind the frontlines for a bit but in the new age telling there are shows that are revolving around them. On Indian TV, we accept a protagonist who is either an underdog or God. In our patriarchal society, usually the woman is an underdog. But now the lines are blurring and men too have issues that need to be addressed,” she says.
Vijayendra also acknowledges that things have changed. “Earlier, women-centric shows were made keeping in mind the target audience, and though male actors were given importance, there was not much to do. From the title to the stories, everything mostly revolved around the female characters, other than the occasional monologues or dominating dialogues, male actors had certain limitations in a show. But now it has changed,” he says.
He adds: “Male actors are now getting out-of-the-box roles, which they also enjoy as an actor. At the end of the day, we all are hungry for good roles, we all want to prove our versatility on-screen, and these days both male and female actors are being given such different roles to play on-screen. I feel it has to do a lot with the stories too. The audience today has become much more accepting of newer concepts, they don’t just want a female actor to be the saviour, they want both male and female actors to be the hero of the show.”
Karan Khanna says when he was approached for “Amma Ke Babu Ki Baby”, he was specially told that the story would revolve around the male protagonist.
“It has always been said that TV is women-centric. When I signed the show, my producer told me that this is the first time that everything is revolving around a man. The story revolves around Babu, and Maa and Baby are related to it. This was a show where I could show my talent,” he says.
Abhishek Nigam of “Tera Yaar Hoon Main” feels not only his role, but all roles must be integral to the story for a show to be engaging.
“I feel it all boils down to the story and it’s not entirely about who takes the centre stage but how your character is perceived and how impactful it is,” he says.
Here are the prominent current shows that have stories woven around a male protagonist:
HERO: GAYAB MODE ON
The story of the show revolves around Veer, essayed by Abhishek Nigam, who sets out on a quest to find his father. His journey gets exciting because he attains a miraculous power of invisibility through a ring.
TERA YAAR HOON MAIN
Protagonist Rajeev, essayed by Ssudeep Sahir, regrets not having an open and healthy relationship with his father, played by Rajendra Chawla. He does not want to replicate this with his son, essayed by Ansh Sinha. The story is based on the relationship between father and son.
AAPKI NAZRON NE SAMJHA
Vijayendra Kumeria plays a blind man. He is a visually-impaired photographer and the story revolves around his struggles.
AMMA KE BABU KI BABY
In the show, actor Karan Khanna plays the role of Babu. The story is about him balancing life between his mother and his wife.
Actor Dev Joshi, who essays the role of the protagonist, plays six different characters in the show. Baalveer’s energy star is divided into six pieces and these go into the body of the six lookalikes.