The handsome middle-aged man rules Indian television these days. From Ram Kapoor, Samir Soni to Ronit Roy and Mohnish Bahl - all of them are lead actors on various TV shows. The new trend also means more work for male actors.
While Ram, 38, plays a middle-aged business tycoon in the romantic drama "Bade Ache Lagte Hain", Mohnish, 47, has impressed all as a simple but reserved Dr Ashutosh in hospital drama "Kuch Toh Log Kahenge", and Ronit, 46, fights for justice in "Adalat" as lawyer K.D. Pathak.
The shows have not only brought fresh flavour on the small screen but also bailed out channels crumbling under the hackneyed plot of mothers-in-law on the warpath against daughters-in-law.
Sony heaved a sigh of relief when their experiment "Saas Bina Sasural" got an overwhelming response, and then they aired "Bade Ache Lagte Hain", that introduced a fresh concept of a romance between a 40-plus business tycoon and a 30-plus woman who come together by arranged marriage on the small screen. It boosted viewership and Sony's TRPs too.
"Sony was not doing very well in the past couple of years. So we had to show something different with a different storytelling. We were thinking of what shows to come up with and this is what we decided upon. And I am glad the results are positive and has proved to be a trendsetter," said Virendra Shahane, fiction head, Sony TV.
"Kuch Toh Log Kahenge", an adaptation of hit 1980s Pakistani TV series "Dhoop Kinare", deviates from kitchen politics. The show's producer Rajan Shahi credits the new trend of "strong stories" and "intelligent viewership" for the serial's success.
"It is a positive trend that men are getting a chance to play prominent roles thanks to strong and good stories which are not just about kitchen politics," Rajan Shahi told IANS.
"There was a time when male actors had important parts to play but down the time, the girl became the face of the shows. Good story telling and intelligent viewership have changed that trend.
"The boy's family is given equal importance as the girl's family. It was a dismal state in the industry when actors were either out of work or were seen playing a father or a grandfather at the age of 30-40. I am so happy that with realistic stories, the actors are getting to play their age," he added.
Years ago, shows like "Office Office", "Karamchand", "Mohandas B.A.L.L.B., "Mr.Yogi", "Shaktimaan", "Just Mohabbat" and "Byomkesh Bakshi" had men in the lead. But all that changed when Ekta brought in her saas-bahu sagas - "Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi" and "Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki", with female protagonists as frontrunners. It became the success mantra. But not any more.
Colors show "Parichay" centres on Kunal Chopra played by Samir Soni, 43. The show depicts his conflicts in life and how he deals with his grievances. Another show "Havan" has middle-aged actor Narendra Jha playing the protagonist.
"I am so glad that the show is being promoted through the male protagonist. Otherwise, almost all shows are sold through a woman and her problems. It just goes to show that men are now really getting their due on TV," Samir said in an interview to IANS.
Actor Daya Shankar Pandey of "Mahima Shani Dev Ki" and Shivaji Satam of "CID" are some other names that carried the shows on their shoulders.
Shahi says middle-aged actors who became the victim of their own popularity have got rid of that baggage, which helped them in getting work.
"A big aspect of this was that actors who became popular with their shows initially became larger than life and there was always a baggage of casting them in a daily soap... because with their popularity, their attitude changed and it became difficult to work with them," he said.
"But now they have adapted to the industry. They are reinventing themselves and competing with young talent. Even actors in their 30s are considering themselves newcomers. So it is a very healthy atmosphere for actors of all age groups and style," he added.