Actor Swwapnil Joshi, who debuted as a child actor with Ramanand Sagar’s Uttar Ramayan, and later featured in Shri Krishna, recently interacted with indainexpress.com on Instagram. Joshi talked about the shows’ record breaking TRPs during the lockdown, and becoming a star at the age of 9.
Here are excerpts from the interaction:
1989 to now – what’s the first thought that comes to your mind when you look back at your journey?
It has been very enriching and satisfying. It has given me a lot of happiness and immense love from the audience. In the times when people’s taste, likes, dislikes, favourite hero or heroine is changing every day, to be relevant as an actor for 30 years feels pretty good. I feel gratitude. And even now, I love the camera. Whenever I see a camera ‘kuch kuch hota hai, tum nahin samjhoge’ (I feel something which you won’t understand.)
Let us talk about your first appearance as Kush.
It was an amazing feeling. Those were the times when only one channel existed. There was a monopoly of Doordarshan. Anything that used to come on Doordarshan used to be like a celebration because the whole nation used to watch it.
Ramayan and Uttar Ramayan broke TRP records. The shows reportedly crossed Game of Thrones’ viewership record too, which is huge.
Back then there were no social media platforms. Now when shows are back on TV, what sort of reactions have come your way?
I always joke around that my work back then was like an exam. You know you did well, your family knows you did well but the world does not know about it. However, when you pass with merit, the whole neighbourhood celebrates. So, the re-telecast of Shri Krishna or Uttar Ramayan felt the same. When I did the shows, there were no social media platforms. People loved me even then but they had no way to express it, except the letters or print articles. Now, the love was like a tsunami. My inbox is filled with lovely messages. Imagine, I have more than 10,000 unread messages right now. This is the love I have received irrespective of the medium and I am so thankful to them (audience).
Do you remember your first shot on the sets of Uttar Ramayan?
My first shot was when we (as Luv and Kush) are eating food and mother Sita is serving us. We talk about how we were not happy with the story of Lord Ram and if we ever meet, we will ask why he asked Sita to leave the house.
Have your children seen your work in Shri Krishna and Uttar Ramayan?
They have mixed feelings. I have a 4-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son. When they saw Uttar Ramayana, they refused to believe it was me. They said, ‘you are so big, you have a beard too and have different hair. We know it is not you.’ In Krishna though, they knew it is me because my face looks similar.
Actors who played mythological parts enjoy a unique fan following. People seek their blessings and more. Do you recall any such incident happening with you?
I think a lot of things happened. People used to bring their newborns and seek blessings. Even when people would be unwell, they would come to us rather than going to a doctor, expecting us to cure them. It used to be overwhelming. I was just 9 when I did Ramayan and 16-17 in Shri Krishna. So, I did not have the experience to handle such situations but that was the time when there used to be such fanatic following. Now, because there are so many channels, the audience is aware. Back then, they used to be so touchy, which is why mythological actors were not accepted in any other roles. I consider myself lucky that I have been able to break the mould.
I did Krishna for two years, took a break and then came back in a show called Campus, which was popular back then. Later, I did Amanat, Hadd Kar Di and the journey just continued.
In your view, what keeps Ramayan, Shri Krishna and other such shows relevant even after so many years?
There are a couple of things. First, they are not just television shows, they are our history. So, the content value is one of the reason. Second, the writing, the execution and the dedication with which the shows were made. They were made with so much love that no matter when you watch them, you will fall in love with them all over again.
View this post on Instagram
On the morning tat gave me the news of Shri Krishna breaking Ramayan and Mahabharata TRP records, my brother and a avid TS member @daniishshaiikh made this! It’s a beautiful take on God, his feelings and where to find him. @kailashkher sirz etheral voice and music makes it hard hitting. Take a look. RadheKrishna. ❤️🙏
What is missing in the content today?
I don’t think anything is missing. Today’s content is relevant to today’s time. People changed, so did the concepts. It is unfair to compare two different content. It is very rare when content breaks the mould of time and stays relevant. Ramayana and Shri Krishna are such rare works.
You also did a web series Samantar. How do you see the digital medium?
For two years, I was trying to work in a web show. However, I wanted to do something different. Something which was out of the box. Samantar ticked all the boxes.
OTT is undoubtedly blurring the lines of language. Everything is being dubbed in English or other languages. Even Samantar was dubbed in Telugu, Tamil and Hindi with English subtitles. People from Italy, Germany, Dubai and so many other places called up and shared their views on Samantar. I truly believe that eventually the linguistic barrier will disappear and it is going to be only about good content.
What is the update on its second season?
I can give a definite picture only once the shoot begins full throttle. Right now, everything is in ifs and buts. So, we cannot commit a timeline. But we hope to get the second season out by the end of this year.
You’ve stuck to Marathi for quite a while. Has Bollywood or Hindi television not been offering you anything interesting?
Marathi films have given me great stories and characters. So many non-Maharashtrians follow Maharashtrian films because of its content. I don’t want to do a Hindi project just to tick a box. I want my content to reach as many people as possible. If good content comes from the Hindi industry, I will of course do it. I have given so much to that industry. Not doing a Hindi project is an individual choice. I chose to be a big fish in the small pond by being a lead in Marathi films rather than playing a character artiste in Hindi cinema.
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