By Priyanka Bhadani
It’s been four years that you did a show with Balaji Telefilms (the last show was Bandini). Is Itna Karo Na Mujhe Pyar the first offer in these years from the production house?
A couple of years ago there were talks about a show. Unfortunately, I can’t talk much about it as it wasn’t basically an offer but more of ideating for a new concept. It did not happen, but Itna Karo Na Mujhe Pyar happened. In fact, in all these years I have been questioned many a times about not working with Ekta (Kapoor). My reply to everyone has been the same that whenever she thinks I would fit into a character and would be able to do justice to it, I would be called.
So, what’s interesting about your character, Dr Nachiket Khanna in the upcoming show?
Unlike a film where a character is etched out for two hours, a role in a series can’t be defined. It is difficult to describe a role in a series because as you go along, the relationships develop and the story evolves. In all these years, I have discovered that while the show is on, people evolve, chemistry changes, relationships take different turns. Somewhere, even the makers and the audience notice these changes. They latch onto smaller aspects and a minor track becomes bigger because of that.
Are you okay with that?
Having said all of that, I like going ahead with Ekta’s vision. When she comes with a role like this, there is a lot of fire in her and I feed off that fire. When she narrated the role to me, it was an immediate yes on my part.
Not many television shows in India have explored a sensitive subject like the complexities of marriage and divorce. Do you think the Indian television audience would be receptive to an idea like this?
Divorce, nowadays, is not a very sensitive subject. Marriages are falling apart within a year or two years. There are people who have married their childhood sweethearts and the relationship has not worked. It’s happening all around. The rate of occurrence is going up. People are living such hectic and fast lives that they part ways at the slightest hint of disagreement or difference in ideologies. But this show is not about separation and getting divorced; it’s about a couple that is already divorced and finding love again. There comes a time when you realise that you have spent your life to make a living, while actually you would have made a living to live a life. So, the show is a reflection of what a person goes through after he has lived a muddled up life — fulfilling career responsibilities and bringing up kids.
Since the larger part of the television audience are still from the conservative background, from the tier II and III cities, the idea/theme may still not be accepted?
Yes, the audience is from there. But you see, 10 years back the programming that I was doing saw a man who is married with two wives got divorced and got married again. We have seen all of that. Now, it is foolish of us to think that the audience hasn’t evolved. They have evolved and they look for a storyline. As I said, this show is not about growing apart but coming together and everybody likes a happy ending.
Your two characters on TV, that of an advocate K.D. Pathak in Adaalat, and the present show is going to be completely different from each other. Will it be easier straddling between the two?
Well, that’s my job that I have been doing since almost 25 years. If you are doing two separate roles on TV at the same time, you have to be easy with the characters. Not to forget, I have done two completely different shows (Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi and Kasautii Zindagii Kay) simultaneously for nine years. The initial part requires a little searching in order to find the right notes of the character. Once those notes are in place, your job is easier. Also, it has been four years that I have been playing K.D. Pathak’s role, so I am at ease with that, now I have to find the same comfort level with this new character.
You have worked on TV for the longest time, but of late, there has been a bashing up of television shows from many people from different quarters as they think the content is regressive. What is your opinion about the content on television?
People are entitled to their opinion but we have to understand that India is a country of 130 crore people and all of them can’t think alike. There are people in different vocations who may watch a Boston Legal or L.A. Law and think that Adaalat is regressive. But then, I keep meeting people who like watching the show and have followed it for the last four years and liked it too.
Also, Hindi entertainment television is not thought to be a medium for men as women grab the limelight and male actors are hardly given their due. Do you agree?
I am not a very avid television viewer, only because I don’t get the time. Thus, obviously I can’t follow every show. While I agree that television audience comprises mainly of female viewers, you do have a Kapil Sharma, a Ram Kapoor, a Karan Patel and many other male actors who are doing male-centric shows. I can only give my example, and from no angle can I say that I haven’t got my due on television. I would like to rest my case there.