I was extremely desperate for work, but it never came my way, and I eventually slipped into depression: Krishna Bharadwaj

Krishna, an actor from SAB TV's popular daily show, Tenali Rama, has become a household name today. But not many know the phase has been through. In an exclusive conversation, he opens up about his struggle, depression, and the 'bad phase' of his life.

I was extremely desperate for work, but it never came my way, and I eventually slipped into depression: Krishna Bharadwaj

SAB TV's popular show Tenali Rama has received a lot of love from the audience. The lead of the show, Krishna Bharadwaj, who plays the titular character of Tenali, has also made his way to kids' hearts. With his recent trips to multiple cities, he got an opportunity to meet many kids who were dressed like his onscreen character. The success of the show is also at the peak, as Tenali Rama completed 500 episodes recently, and the team celebrated the achievement on the sets of the show.

But having known him closely for 11 years now, I personally know that Krishna's journey to his moment in life has not been easy. When I contacted his first in 2007-08, it was for his first show with Hats Off Productions. It was not just his character, but the messages that the makers wanted to share with the audience. So, in this interview with my best friend, I wanted to share the difficult side of his life, thereby throw light that the road to stardom isn't always easy. I believe that this story ought to be told, for Krishna has achieved so far, with his head high, always!

Life wasn't difficult for the first few years of his career. His show with Hats Off Productions on NDTV Imagine, Jasuben Jayantilal Joshi Ki Joint Family, did fairly well, and so did some shows after that. Summarising that phase in his life and his career today, he said, "Once I entered Jasuben with Hats Off, life was sorted as I worked on writing and direction as well, along with my work in the show as an actor. That was a happy phase as I wanted to be a director as well. After that ended, we wrote Sukh by chance, where I handled 5 departments.  Unfortunately, the show did not work and we were out of the channel. We then worked on RK Lakshman Ki Nayi Duniya which ended in 2013. I was completely out of work after that, and then it became a difficult phase. I had nothing -  no money, no personal life, no work, no fame, absolutely nothing. I have auditions for shows but never got a final call. I was extremely desperate for work, but it never came my way, and I eventually slipped into depression in 2015. For one year (until 2016) I was under heavy medication for several mental health conditions. But at the same time, I knew I had to keep myself occupied, and so I joined the theatre. I did 3 plays at one time - Ishq Aaha, Dohri Zindagi and Jungle Book 2. I also started writing the Gujarati film. Thankfully in 2017, the film and this show Tenali Rama changed my life." 

Often people who deal with mental stress and concerns are told to find happiness with something they already have. This is why I wanted to know what kept him positive throughout, something which served as the means of hope and belief. "I always knew that I'm not good for anything else other than acting. There is nothing else I can do. There was a time when my brother started looking for a job for me in Hyderabad. I believed that if I have come so far, I can't feel discouraged and sad about life. I never wanted to turn back and let 90% of my hard work go waste. So I decided to wait for 10% I could get and worked hard towards that. I knew that I was made for this and if not acting, I was convinced that I will do something in the creative space - be it writing or direction. There was no way I could go back and leave all this."

It has been around 12 years since his first show. I believe that the struggle back then, to find a role, was comparatively less than today. Were or are there too many actors and fewer shows or time slots? On being asked if getting work in the industry was difficult back then or is it the same even today, he said, "To be honest, there are not many 'actors' in the industry today. Who people, unfortunately, believe as actors these days are the ones with good body, who can recite the lines and do their work on-screen with confidence. They aren't actors at all, as there is a lot that goes behind becoming one. The definition of a true 'actor' on TV is completely different. There is a lot of pain or sacrifice that goes behind becoming a successful actor, which the bad phase I went through taught me. I believe that's why I'm able to work on Tenali so well." 

The show Tenali is a big hit among the kids, and Krishna has become a favourite among the children. Besides parents, he also becomes the new 'role model' for kids in many parts of the country. Talking about this achievement, Krishna added, "Tenali has become a brand today for the channel and it gave me a lot. Outside Mumbai, people met me and touched my feet. This happened in Ahmedabad where I was promoting my film. Parents asked kids to touch my feet and seek blessings, as this is the only show they are allowed to watch on TV. I believe that this is also due to the regressive content channels have been serving to the audience today - first, there was saas-bahu saga and now it is supernatural shows. Unfortunately, there are no progressive shows."

Bringing the conversation to an end, I asked him about his aspirations and the next milestone he has set for himself, and ask him to state that one change, he would like to see in the TV and content space today, to which he said, "The kind of characters I want to play, cannot be found in daily soaps we have today. Unfortunately, the format of showing emotions of any kind is very different and unlike the one I relate to. Things are very unnatural in shows today. I'm not against saas-bahu saga but it has to be relatable. The next on my list is to do a good Bollywood film - may be a very intense psychological film - that breaks the image I have created with Tenali Rama. Talking about the change I want to appeal to the writers and directors, Understand the responsibility of serving something positive and progressive to the viewers. One shouldn't only focus on earning money. There should be a focus on serving something right. What's being served in the name of creativity (over the last 20 years) should change. We should make sure the audience more sensitive by offering sensible content. Writers, unfortunately, are offering something where one doesn't have to apply their brain, and that should change now. It's high time!!

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