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Return of the prodigal

After playing the protagonist in the 2007 show Love Story created by Anurag Basu and essaying the intense Datta bhau in Laagi Tujhse Lagan two years ago, actor Mishal Raheja returns to television, essaying the role of a cop in the gritty saga based on gangsters in Encounter. The actor talks about the upcoming telefilm directed by Nikhil Advani for MTV and the reason why he prefers the long interludes from work

Written by Ankita R Kanabar | Mumbai | Updated: May 2, 2014 10:15:52 am
Mishal Raheja Mishal Raheja

Was it the thrill of playing a cop, which made you do Encounter after a long sabbatical?

Yes, absolutely. The concept of Encounter was very different, and it’s rare that you see something like that on television. The shoot was only for a few days, and I loved the role which was of this tough guy. What I liked about my episodes in Encounter is that it also showed a cop’s family background, and the trauma that he goes through in his personal life. So, it was challenging, yet fun using a gun and running behind goons.

But why do you take these long breaks in between?

I did Laagi Tujhse Lagan for 14 months, and I knew I’d atleast need two months to come out of that character and relax, and do some socialising. You have absolutely no social life when you are doing TV. This can take a toll on any human being, because you need a balance in life. I had taken a vacation for 1-2 months, and after that nothing interesting came my way. Besides, I wanted to pursue films, and for the past one year, I was shooting for my film tentatively titled Budget Trip. When you take long breaks between two characters, it helps as an actor, because one character doesn’t reflect into the other.

Does television get monotonous after a point?

That’s the reason why I left Laagi...because I played the character for 14 months, and as an actor you need to refresh yourself and do something different. Losing sleep because you think you’re just doing the same thing each day is not a good sign. That way, films are a lot better, because you play a character for a few months and you move on. I remember after Laagi…I was offered another show on Colors, and I refused it. Later, it even went on to become a huge hit, but I had to say no, because I knew I would need a few months to recover and relax before I take up anything else.

What else makes television different from films?

The amount of hard work, and everything is the same. I think it’s just that films are a richer medium, with higher production values.

You’re also a part of MTV Films, in a telefilm directed by Nikhil Advani.

Someone from the team working with MTV Films knew me, and told me about it, so I auditioned and was selected. I think it’s been such a fantastic experience, because Nikhil Advani’s story, his idea, the cinematography and everything was just so cool. MTV as a channel caters to a very young audience, so the film is also very cool and young. I just feel fortunate enough to be a part of it. Anurag Basu is also one of the directors for MTV Films, so it’s very special because I did my show Love Story, a few years ago that was created by him.

Tell us about your character in it?

I’m playing a lawyer, who later bumps into this girl, and their love story begins. It’s a very simple, young story, so it was fun doing it. I was shooting for it a few days back— in fact, we were on the same sets where Nikhil Advani was shooting his film Hero. So, it was as if we were shooting for a film.

How long does it take for you to get into the skin of a character?

It takes a while for me to get into a character, and I like to prepare, but it also depends on the character. Every character is different and every project is different. I remember my character in Laagi…was so intense, and when I asked my director that on a scale of 1-10, how intense do you want me to be, he said 15. So, it took a while for me to understand Datta bhau. The other traits and intricate nuances are something you develop spontaneously while shooting.


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