According to analytics by Truth Poll, Naagin 6 star and Bigg Boss 15 winner Tejasswi Prakash has the highest engagement of all Indian celebrities on Instagram. With an engagement rate of 9.81%, Tejasswi has surpassed the likes of Katrina Kaif and Deepika Padukone, who each have an engagement rate of 4.01% and .90%, respectively.
The high engagement rates of TV stars
Such statistics make one thing very clear: you don’t have to be the main lead in blockbuster Hindi films in order to have immense reach amongst the masses on social media. We say this because the other people with a high amount of engagement on Instagram are Shehnaaz Gill with 6.46% and Nora Fatehi with 2.97%. Shehnaaz became a household name, thanks to Bigg Boss 13, and Nora is a judge on a dance reality show apart from being an exceptional dancer whose performances are featured in Hindi films.
Clearly, TV has a big foothold in the minds of the Indian viewers, and TV stars have a huge recall value as far as audiences are concerned. This begs the question: why are TV actors still looked down upon?
TV stars face discrimination in Bollywood despite immense popularity amongst the masses
Despite these numbers and the pretty obvious fan-following that TV stars have garnered, the idea that TV is lowbrow and movies are highbrow continues to persist. Actresses like Hina Khan have spoken about the roadblocks that they have to face due to this, especially while attempting to foray into movies.
Talking about how she was excluded from the Indian Pavilion at Cannes, Hina recently spoke to Film Companion’s Anupama Chopra about these biases, “I’m still slapped with this thing they always tell me, that ‘She’s a television star,’ not that ‘She’s an actor from India.’ We all belong to the same industry and we all have come here to represent India. I’d like to tell you that there is this elitist system, this elitist game that still exists.”
It is, therefore, evident that despite the immense reach they have, Bollywood often discriminates against TV actors and dismisses them. But the fact is, they are as well-loved, if not more, as movie stars.
Internationally, TV actors in Hollywood or South Korea, are as popular as movie stars
If we look at the global entertainment landscape, TV stars like Jennifer Aniston from Friends, Emilia Clarke from Game Of Thrones or Sofia Vergara from Modern Family are all as well-known as those who act solely in films.
Not just in Hollywood but even in South Korea, TV actors are as well-respected as movie stars. When it comes to Korean celebrities, more people across the globe know of K-drama stars like Lee Min Ho than they know of Korean movie stars, if their Instagram following is anything to go by.
If this is the case in the rest of the world, and if Indian television stars like Tejasswi and Hina have such huge fan followings, shouldn’t this idea that TV is less than films die? Sure, TV content isn’t always great and has a long way to go, but that is not a reflection of the actors’ capabilities, and that does not change the fact that the reach of TV stars is undeniably huge. So, isn’t it time that Bollywood’s tendency to gatekeep TV actors from making it big in the film industry ended?
Lead image credit: Instagram.com/tejasswiprakash, Dharma Productions, Viacom18 Studios, Jouska Films