By Dhrithi Sudhakar Gulvadi

He adorns the small screen with the magnificence of his performance. Celebrated for his larger than life roles, he rose to stardom with television shows like Devon Ke Dev – Mahadev, Chakravartin Ashoka Samrat and Mahabharat. His character in the historical shows not only graced the TRPs but also widened its reach in every Indian household, thereby making him one of the most desired actors of the telly town.

The actor has bagged Contiloe Pictures’ upcoming magnum-opus called 21 Sarfarosh: Saragarhi 1897. The historical show will beam on a soon-to-be-launched channel, Discovery Jeet.

21 Sarfarosh: Saragarhi 1897 is inspired by the real-life story of 21 brave soldiers of the 36th Sikh regiment of the British Indian Army, who defended an army outpost against an onslaught by over 10,000 Afghans in 1897. Mohit will be seen in the role of Havildar Ishar Singh.

In an exclusive chat with the Eastern Eye, telly star Mohit Raina talks about his new show, his approach towards a character and more…

Rumour has it that you are doing Devon Ke Dev – Mahadev season 2?

No, I am not doing that show. I have no understanding of that show. Probably the makers of that show would be able to tell you better. Right now, I am doing a series which is based on a very famous war that had happened at 1897 which is called the Battle of Saragarhi.

What is your character in the new show?

It is very exciting to be in a period drama like 21 Sarfarosh: Saragarhi 1897. Period dramas have their own challenges; one must work hard to ensure that you don’t just embrace the character you are playing, you also have to understand the smaller nuances of the period to deliver an authentic experience.

For Ishar Singh, the only thing mattered was his duty, service. The utmost priority was to serve the nation at any cost and be true to his people, a story of a common man turning into a saviour during difficult times. An extraordinary story of an ordinary person drove me towards it.

How indifferent are you from the characters that you play in reel life?

Very indifferent, I have played many characters which had similar traits and tendencies, but that rarely happens where you get to play the characters that are similar to you. I try and remember the situations to connect myself with the character which I must have been through. In order to get through the character, one needs to understand what its journey could be and in this journey you also find certain moments which you have shared in your life. It’s then an advantage; otherwise if you have no clue about it then you take your time slowly and gradually to understand it.

Mohit Raina is one of TV’s most bankable leading men

Have you been interested to go beyond the larger than life roles?

Yes, obviously, I would like to play for very interesting roles. The thing is that when these opportunities come to you then you don’t feel like saying no because these things are made very rarely. These are all real life incidents and it’s different from the regular shows. Right now, I am more satisfied to be a part of these shows which are being made differently. I am just changed now, so I am happy to be a part of this, because it’s not a deliberate attempt.

With the emergence of the digital age, do you think the television content viewing has been condensed due to the dawn of web oriented shows?

No, I don’t think so, I don’t completely agree with it. Well, may be the statistics will not speak the same in my favour but what I think is television will always have and has its own audience which will never change. As far as web generation and smart phone generations are concerned, it’s going to keep experimenting but television is a very big market which will never lose its base just because of growth of something. Maybe metropolitan cities and maybe future generations would prefer watching web series because it is start-to-finish, but it would never affect the television business.

Not many television actors have flourished in Bollywood, do you think nepotism is the culprit to slack their prospects to foray in Bollywood. What is your take on the same?

I don’t think so. I think that’s a very basic thing. I don’t know how to put it, but yes, a doctor will always want his son to be a doctor, a judge would want his son to be a lawyer. However, if you are good at your job you will get all the brownie points and if you are not then nothing is going to help you. It’s like that.

What would you like to change in the television industry, if given a chance?

More limited episode series. It gives time to make the show and it lets less pressure because you have start-to-finish episodes. You have less pressure of finishing the job at the end of the day. You can experiment with lot of things. The longer the subjects, longer are the duration of the shoots, you have to deliver, and you have the rescheduled time which does not always works in your favour. Maybe in future if we could have a limited episode series where we know that this is start-to-finish, it might happen. But it is happening, people are trying that. As I said, the change is always there if the change is good. So let’s hope for the best.

How is your approach towards portraying a particular character?

It depends on each and every character. It depends upon how my director sees it, how I see it and how my writer sees it, so it’s an amalgamation of all those things. Yes, I always try to look at the larger picture and look at the larger presentation of the character. If there are small things that cause mistakes then its fine. It will not be noticed or be found out all the time, but yes, overall largely, your character should be accepted. As human beings we are also flawed and the characters are also flawed but as far as the approach towards the character is concerned it has to be hundred per cent. At times you know the character well and at times you don’t. Right now, I am working as a Sardar for the series so I know how Sardars are and I had to do a lot of homework. It depends on product to product.

Which other character fascinates you other than the roles that you have played previously?

I want to play Dhanraj Pillai.

How do you react when your personal life is under the media radar?

I don’t find anything constructive to give them attention to do that. Yes, it’s part and parcel of the game. I have been a person who’s never been expressive about my personal life and I still do the same. That’s ok, as that’s the part of their job and this is the part of my job. We both understand each other; I mean myself and the journalist. They are doing their job and I am doing my job. I am fine with it. I have no qualms and no issues.

Any Bollywood projects on your sleeves?

Yes, but now there is nothing that I am considering. The way in which I see things, if it happens then it will be well and good.

Which director would you like to work with?

Sriram Ragahvan.