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Sushant Singh Rajput Hugely Contributed to Breaking Prejudice Against TV Actors: Gurmeet Chaudhary

Gurmeet Chaudhary.

Gurmeet Chaudhary.

Gurmeet Chaudhary says the film industry is yet to recognise the fan following TV stars command in India and abroad.

Gurmeet Chaudhary shot to fame with TV shows like Ramayan, Geet – Hui Sabse Parayi and Punar Vivah. Several reality shows, including Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, Nach Baliye and Khatron Ke Khiladi, also contributed to his popularity. He ventured into films with musical hit Khamoshiyan (2015).

Gurmeet has since worked in films like Wajah Tum Ho, Laali Ki Shaadi Mein Laaddoo Deewana and Paltan, but he feels the real good opportunities are still evading him. After starring in multi-actor films, Gurmeet has finally secured a solo lead in The Wife, which is now streaming on ZEE5.

Excerpts from a conversation where he talks about Sushant Singh Rajput in paving the way for TV actors in films, and his strong bond with wife Debina Bonnerjee.

How did you land the offer for The Wife?

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I have worked with ZEE Studios earlier in Paltan. When the film’s trailer released, the head of ZEE Studios Tarik Patel was reading comments, he exclaimed that everyone is talking about me, ‘Har Jagah Gurmeet Gurmeet aa ra hai’. So I said, ‘Exactly sir, I am a TV star who has come into films, I have a dedicated fan following, and getting a good film is very important. So far I have done multi-starrer films, if there is a good script please cast me as a solo hero.’ So he kept my words in mind and was surprised why I wasn’t getting good films. Finally they sent me the script of The Wife, it’s a psychological thriller, and I am fond of the genre. I am a Stanley Kubrick fan and I have watched his films.

Is it still hard for TV stars to get film offers?

When I was working in TV, film producers used to say people watch you on TV for free, for films they have to buy a ticket, so why would they? But that time has changed now. The biggest example is Shah Rukh Khan. I would also say that Sushant Singh Rajput contributed a lot too. Sushant and I were stars on TV at the same time. Sushant proved himself on the big screen and only then producers and directors started wondering who is the next best on TV! From there I started getting offers.

I do one film every year, and with good people and production houses. But I am yet to receive those kinds of offers for which I was brought to films from TV. The Wife is my solo lead film but before that it was 2-hero or 3-hero films. I don’t mind doing that, if the story is good. The TV audience already knows my talent that I can dance and do romance and action. The film industry is yet to discover my talents. TV stars come with a set fanbase and audience who will watch our films for sure. You don’t need to spend a lot to establish me.

Our shows are popular not just in India but also abroad. During lockdown my show Ramayan was re-telecast and was number one in TRPs. So there is a set audience which likes to watch me every day. So I think I should be getting more film offers where I can explore more aspects of acting.

Do you think OTT platforms are helping TV actors in getting more work in films?

Yes, I think OTT platforms have increased opportunities and increased the audience reach for actors. The streaming platforms are always looking for more content. Now we can work for both OTT and theatres, which means more work for everyone.

Audience also loves watching you and Debina together. What’s the secret to your strong bond?

I would give all the credit to Debina. I did not have a sister, I used to shy away from girls when I was young. I came to Mumbai at a young age to become an actor and met Debina here. I realised women have a power that we men can never have. You guys can multi-task so well, balance work and professional life. Looking at Debina, I realised why women deserve respect. She is very sorted, she’ll shoot for 12 hours, take care of me, handle work at home. She balances it out perfectly in our relationship.