God,Lord & The Kings

Women might rule the small screen as soap queens but when it comes to mythological explorations and divine interventions,it’s the men who play the lords,the gods and the royal kings,says Jaskiran Kapoor

Written by Jaskiran Kapoor | Published: October 11, 2013 2:18:45 am

God of Gods

Mohit Raina as Lord Shiva in Devon ke Dev…Mahadev (Life OK)

In Costume: Mohit Raina has earned the tag of “the hottest god on screen”. A commerce graduate prepping for chartered accountancy,Raina decided to give Mr. India a shot,and shed 20 kilos. Before landing his dream role,he worked in the film Don Muthu Swami with Mithun Chakraborty,the sci-fi TV show Antariksh,Chehra,Bandhini and Ganga kii Dheej. The 31-year old Jammu boy always had a connect with Mahadev — his late father would take him to the Amarnath temple quite often. About this career-defining role,he says,“It takes me over 90 minutes to become Mahadev. Usually,it takes a long time to get the hair right,then the costume,followed by final touch up.” As his team works on him,Raina recites his lines or meditates. In fact,breathing exercises have become a part of his routine.

Role Play: “I’ve become calmer. I take more time to think things through. Wherever I go,people look at me as if Lord Shiva has arrived and I get a lot of attention and it does get difficult to handle at times. People want me to bless them,they want to touch my feet and I have to stop them.”

Fan Fanatics: “A kid had come all the way from Himachal Pradesh and he wanted a photograph taken for his mother who had instructed him to sit by my feet and I should have my hand on his head blessing him,” he says. Once,his character had kheer for the first time on the show,the following day,a bunch of people made kheer to celebrate the fact that Lord Shiva had devoured kheer.

Alter Ego: “If I come face to face with Mahadev,I don’t think I’ll ask him for any wishes because I already feel blessed.”

The Supreme Being Saurabh Raj Jain as Lord Krishna in Mahabharat

(Star Plus)

In Costume: A heavenly smile on his face,warm voice and a calm temperament,Saurabh Raj Jain’s personality lives up to the lofty reputation of his avatar on television. “Lord Krishna is the greatest social scientist ever,god of the entire universe. Before slipping into the avatar,I had to reinforce my belief in him and know more about him because I wanted to be like him — pleasant,likeable,loveable and wise,” says the 28-year-old MBA professional. He read up books such as Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata by Devdutt Pattanaik,The Difficulty of Being God: On the Subtle Art of Dharma by Gurcharan Das and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s The Palace of Illusions. Jain is comfortable in all the jewellery and heavy costumes,thanks to playing Lord Vishnu in Jai Jai Sri Krishna earlier and being a contemporary dancer too. “The dhoti,make-up,rings and earrings,the crown — it takes a lot to carry off this appearance and to be in it for the entire day,” says Jain. The magic is in the crown. “The moment I wear Krishna’s mukut with that mor pankh attached to it,Saurabh ceases to exist and Krishna takes over… I can feel the energy flow,” he says.

Role Play: “In the first Mahabharata aired on Indian television,it was time that narrated this greatest story. But in the current show,it’s different. Krishna is the narrator and guide,and I love the way his lines have been penned,” he says. His experiences on the sets have been entertaining. “I am shown in a beautiful garden while enacting my part,and there are birds and ducks in the frame too. One day whenever I uttered a word,the ducks would quack. It carried on for the whole length of the shoot and I will never forget it,” he says.

Fan Fanatics: “A woman came with her newborn child to be blessed by me,and I did feel odd,for I’m just a common man. Still,in the spirit of Krishna,I blessed the baby,and it was a touching experience,” he says.

Alter Ego: I shall be speechless if Lord Krishna appears before me. That would be enough,I guess. What more to wish for?”

The Mighty Mughal

Rajat Tokas as Jalaluddin Akbar in Jodha Akbar (Zee)

In Costume: At 22,Rajat Tokas already has eight years of work experience. Thrown into the acting arena at a young age,Tokas,like the historical character he essays,rose through the ranks with a lot of self-restrain,aggression and determination. A lot comes in the form of residual effect from his days of playing Dharti Ka Veer Yodha Prithviraj Chauhan on Star Plus and Dharam Veer. “Getting into the character of Akbar with all that costume,jewellery and armour,was easy. Also,as an actor,one needs to be prepared for any kind of role,” says Tokas. To be like Akbar was to be bold,upfront,and outstanding. “He was all about pride,ego,power,control,and then,justice,benevolence and being the greatest ruler perhaps. I love playing Akbar because manly roles like this are difficult to come by on Indian television,” says Tokas.

Role Play: “Whereas Prithviraj was a righteous hero to whom his kingdom and family were everything,with Akbar,I had to display that hunger for power and control,those warrior-like traits,” says Tokas.

Fan Fanatics: “There have been many,and irrespective of weird,crazy,obsessed or funny requests,all are fans and I appreciate that people love me. That I am someone special to them matters to me,” says Tokas who likes to watch Batman,Superman and Mission Impossible.

Alter Ego: “If I meet Akbar,I will just be myself,and like Akbar — honest,direct and bold.”

The Popular Prince

Faisal Khan as Maharana Pratap in Bharat Ka Veer Putra: Maharana Pratap (Sony)

In Costume: The 15-year-old Dance India Dance winner,Faisal Khan doesn’t show even an iota of nervousness in his first acting job as Maharana Pratap. “Becoming Pratap meant understanding the character’s mindset,body language,the age and era he came from,and his code of conduct,” says the young actor. Of course the baubles choke him,and the turban and yards of clothes are tedious to wear,for there are a lot of stunts that Pratap has to undertake and costumes also become overbearing for the same reason. “The cuts and bruises apart,I am loving it,for it’s learning process,” says Khan.

Role Play: So who says playing a warrior prince is easy. As Khan

says,“I will never forget horse riding and stunts with elephants around me. Also,recently,there was a dance sequence in the show,and it gave the dancer in me a platform to display my talent.”

Fan Fanatics: “There are so many. However,just recently my fans made a short film on me and put up a collage of my pictures on Facebook. It’s very touching and memorable,” says Khan.

Alter Ego: “Once face to face with Maharana Pratap,first,I would ask him to take me to his time and live the whole episode. Second,I would like to request him to let me ride his horse,Chetak once. And finally,I would wish for him to stay with me forever,” he says.

The Wise One

Arav Choudhary as Bhishma in Mahabharat

(Star Plus)

In Costume: To portray the greatest warrior of his time,43-year-old Arav Choudhary grew his hair to shoulder length and bulked up by 12 to 14 kilos with professional body builder Rohit Shekhar. Choudhary,who has been in the acting profession for over two decades,says the biggest challenge of his role is to present a new Bhishma to the audience who’ve already been treated to an impressive and memorable depiction of him in the original Mahabharata,played by Mukesh Khanna. “I had to make Bhishma relatable to this generation,give him weight yet that accessible factor that appeals to all age-groups,” adds Choudhary,who took training in voice modulation too. “I have to carry a 10 kg mukut,an equally heavy sword,armour and other accessories,and if there is not enough padding,it all cuts terribly into the skin,” he says. Braving the extreme climate like standing almost bare-bodied in sub-zero temperatures in Kashmir and hitting the gym post non-stop shoot,is another demanding part of playing this epic character.

Role Play: There are similarities between the character he plays and the person he is. “In many ways,I find myself like Bhishma — he was a man of his word,committed,and I am a man of my word too. I will walk the extra mile for those I stand by. In today’s world too,we have Bhishma-like personalities — Amitabh Bachchan is one,so is Danny Denzongpa. If Mr Bachchan,in spite of being ‘star of the millennium’,is principled,humble and legendary,Mr Denzongpa is a content,happy man who loves to play his flute and paint. I strive to be that,the best husband,father and son,” says Choudhary.

Fan Fanatics: “There is a ‘Aravian’ following on Twitter,and I have girls writing in all the time,penning dialogues verbatim on my Facebook page. Women follow me all the time,people come up to just shake my hand,touch my feet or take a picture — it feels quite wonderful,” he says.

Alter Ego: “If I come face to face with Bhishma,my three wishes would be to an almost immortal man like him,for I want to be with my family forever. Second,the strength and ability to go through the turmoils of life,for I’ve seen a lot of struggle in the past 20 years in this industry and want to keep my family safe and happy for the rest of their lives,” he says.

The Fair King

Shakti Anand as Rana Udai Singh in Bharat Ka Veer Putra: Maharana Pratap (Sony)

In Costume: “When it comes to historicals and mythology,the challenge is always of appearance and dialogue delivery. Be it costumes or the entire look,everything is larger-than-life,” says Anand,a pharmaceutical engineer who left his job to pursue acting in Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi,then Crime Patrol and now Maharana Pratap. Anand brings out Rana’s stiffness,rigidity and authoritarian and commanding temperament well. “It took me time to get used to the turban and moustache,” he says,adding how for saas-bahu shows,one takes hardly 10 minutes to dress up,but here,it takes around one hour. “But once you get used to it,you start feeling like a king,walking and talking like him,for you are on a pedestal and people look up to you,” he says.

Role Play: “Rana Udai Singh has this fixed gaze,a stern look,and so I think he mustn’t have blinked much. So,I experimented with doing away with blinking. I hardly blink anymore,” he says. Sometimes,the actor carries ‘Rana’ home,and laughs how he orders his wife around,“khaana pesh kiya jaaye,” he says.

Fan Fanatics: “Well,there was a man in Canada who has been following the show,and is apparently obsessed with me. He came to see me in Canada and has been writing to me since then to let him touch my feet,or send him a picture of my feet so that he can pay his respects everyday.”

Alter Ego: “If I meet the real Rana Udai Singh,I would love to time travel with him when Pratap was 15 and go horse riding with them. I would also like to see him with all his 20 wives in one room and how he manages them for it’s difficult managing one. His house must’ve been like the Bigg Boss house. I also want to learn sword fighting,” he says.

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