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LIFFT India Filmotsav: Hindi TV content is regressive, lags behind by 40 years, says Buniyaad star Kanwaljit

Referring to web-series, the veteran said that while sex may sell for a while, eventually audiences tire of it and start looking for content, stories, scripts and characterization.

Keyur Seta

Actor Kanwaljit Singh has been a regular at the LIFFT India Filmotsav and is quite passionate about the festival.

“It has been growing each year," the one-time television star said. "It’s all because of the efforts of [festival director] Riju [Bajaj], Mr [Ram Gopal] Bajaj and team. They have achieved a lot. In just its third year it has become a hub for art and culture." He urged residents of Lonavala and Khandala to turn out in greater numbers and encourage the festival to grow more.

Kanwaljit Singh was seen on the big screen this year in Meghna Gulzar’s Raazi (2018), where he played lieutenant general Nikhil Bakshi. Last year, he played a barrister in Tigmanshu Dhulia’s critically acclaimed Raag Desh (2017). He was also noticed in recent films like Tum Bin II (2016), Happy Bhag Jayegi (2016) and Rustom (2016).

Kanwaljit Singh explained how he decides on signing films at this stage of his career. “It depends on how you are placed," he said. "It [the offer] should be fairly okay. There are some roles that don’t excite you but you do them because the people making [the film] are truthful, enthusiastic, committed and focused. It is fun just being with them.”

But the actor is strictly against working with those whom he finds "characterless". "Who will work with a chhichhora, no matter how good the offer is?” he remarked.

Kanwaljit Singh admitted he has not been watching films regularly. Of the recently released ones, he has only seen Neena Gupta’s Badhaai Ho (2018). "It’s very good and has done so well,” he said. The actor had worked with Gupta in the popular television serial Saans (1998), and their pairing was well liked.

A popular name at one time on the Hindi television circuit, Kanwaljit Singh was an important part of the golden days of Doordarshan with serials like the classic Buniyaad (1987), Param Veer Chakra (1988), Bible Ki Kahaniyan (1993) and Daraar (1994). Having lived through that era, it is no surprise he is is repelled by the current television scenario.

“I find it bewildering," he said. "Instead of bettering our content year after year, why are we going backwards? Why is it so regressive? What we are seeing today in television used to happen 40 years ago; even in the rest of the world. It feels bad!”

The actor said artistes owe a responsibility to their audiences to "train" them. "If we keep churning out regressive and mediocre stuff, obviously audiences will go into that stupor,” he said.

Kanwaljit Singh has also not kept track of the latest sensation, web-series. “I keep receiving clips of web-series in groups," he said. "It is too sleazy. I have no problem with 'bold' content, but it is wrong to be pornographic just for the sake of it. If it is needed for the character, fine. But there has to be some aesthetic value. Some of it is straight out of pornographic films.”

The actor believes that while sex may sell initially, only good content lasts in the long run. "Just because there is competition, they show sexy stuff," he said. "People will get bored of this too. They need content, stories, scripts and characterization." However, he also said he had heard good things about series like Sacred Games.

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