Mohnish Bahl: I stopped getting film offers as people knew I was doing TV and there’ll be date issues

In a career spanning almost four decades, actor Mohnish Bahl has dabbled in both films and television extensively. He might have started off with films, but he says there wasn’t any apprehension of working on the small screen. In fact, the actor adds that he never had to face any hierarchy between being a film and TV actor.

“I got the same respect on TV that I got in films, I never felt it. I feel TV has a wider reach in terms of audience. Also, if you have successful shows — I had quite a few luckily over the years — you have a steadier income for a longer period of time, and you become a more known face,” says the 59-year-old, who has been a part of shows such as Dil Mill Gaye and Sanjeevani.

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“I also stopped getting film offers because of that, as people knew I was successfully working on TV. They knew approaching me would be an issue in flexibility and availability of dates, so automatically films receded slightly from 2005 onwards. The number of films I did drastically reduced compared to what I did in late 1980s or 90s,” recounts the actor.

However, he admits that it could also be the case because the number of films being produced now is lesser than the 90s. Bahl goes on to reveal that the most taxing part of TV, mentally, is that you don’t know your character graph.

“That’s my biggest grouse, I don’t know where I’m headed with my character. I don’t blame the creative team for that, they’re dependent on ratings to develop it, and it comes on a weekly basis,” he says.

The actor feels this is how the business operates on TV.

“I got played by the ear here, we get the scene the same day, and we figure out ‘this happened’. That’s how the business is. Story changes according to the TRPs. Yes, cinema is also about box office, but the difference is that cinema is a one time investment, and you put it out. On TV, it’s a weekly investment, you can develop it in a way. I believe that is good commercially, and makes sense, that you tweak your product with live updates. I don’t hold anybody responsible for it, it’s just the way it is,” Bahl explains.

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