Sudha Chandran has been one of the pioneers when it comes to character artists becoming the main protagonists on shows. She is also one of the very few who have openly spoken up about getting her due respect when it comes to auditioning for her roles. She has never shied away from calling a spade a spade, and she has always been very frank about her choices.
Speaking to Prateek Sur, Sudha Chandran opens up about how life has changed for senior actors in today's time, with the boom in OTT. She also speaks up about how actors have all gone through financial problems, and what they can do to avoid them. Excerpts:
People always felt that it's easy for character artists to get work. Even after being a senior actor, do you still have to go through auditions to get a role?
Today it's not as easy to get work as it used to be before. But I have been very fortunate that I have always been working, be it in Hindi or in the south, plus I have my dance shows plus I am anchoring a crime-based show. So, for me, there was never a lack of work as I have always kept myself busy and if I have not worked it has been my personal choice. The audition factor is something that hurts a senior actor because suddenly when you are putting in 35-40 years of experience and are suddenly asked to audition for a role. I don't mind auditioning for a role that I am already selected for like maybe for a look or language or for what the director has perceived about a character, but for a role I have to audition, then I think my 35 years of experience have gone down the drain. That is not acceptable, that hurts a lot.
Is there enough work for senior actors?
Well, there is work for senior actors but now the point is whether people want senior actors, then there is a lot of work. If I see serials, I see the web, I can definitely say and I see good films and I can say yes, I can place myself in many of the roles that I see. But the point is, either they don’t think of you or they feel you are too busy on television or they feel you are completely forgotten when the casting is done, which is a very sad state of affairs today.
Are there times in between shows when you have to call up producers or directors and ask for work?
I have never actually called anybody for work. But yes, I mean there are cases where people have called up and reached out to producers and directors for work. But God forbid, I don’t think any senior actor should go through that grill because there is plenty of work today. Sometimes, they are easily forgotten, or people don’t have the patience to reach out to such actors.
Being a character artiste, is it difficult to have a steady income so as to raise a family?
I don’t think you need to categorise yourself as a character actor or a hero or a villain, because today artist is an artist. Today we have reached a point where actors are being recognized, so there is nothing like a character actor or an actor-actor in general. If you see TV, the web, and films, it’s not just heroes. I mean people doing character roles are being more recognised maybe because of their performances and their contribution to media. If they don’t have work, then it is difficult to raise a family, because of the responsibilities that linger on their shoulders. I don’t think this is a case just for a character artist or a senior actor, it’s a case for any of the actors. You are so used to a steady flow of income and suddenly that stops, then you have your commitments, and they have to be met irrespective of the fact you are earning or not. I think, most of us have gone through these financial problems. So, I would personally say it would be wiser that when we make our money, invest it in the right way.
Has OTT changed the game for senior actors? Are you’ll getting better roles now to portray onscreen?
Yes, OTT has changed the scenario, but unfortunately, I have never been part of OTT and dying and longing to be a part of OTT. But my only apprehension was the bold content in OTT which I don’t want to be a part of. But now I see that OTT has come out with some nice family drama which I would love to be a part of. I would definitely love to explore the OTT platform but unfortunately, people think I am a little too busy with television and I don’t have time to spare. People in the north feel I am busy down south and people down south feel I am very busy in the north, and that could be the reason I am losing out on a lot of opportunities but otherwise yes, I would love it and it's my desire to be a part of the OTT platform because the content is so good, except I don’t want to be a part of the bold theme. I don’t say it is wrong to have bold content but I as a person cannot place myself or see myself in such bold content.
What next can we see you in?
Currently, I am busy doing 'Naagin 6' because I have re-entered it again. I am anchoring the crime show on 'Dangal', as the principal anchor of 'Crime Alert'. Plus, I am very busy doing a lot of motivational shows, and my dance performances, so I think God has been really kind in keeping me busy. But yes, I am looking forward to something really interesting which I am also waiting for. Let's see, keeping my fingers crossed. I will keep you updated the moment I do something new, or take up a new project.