Eros Now’s original web series Modi – Journey of a Common Man chronicles the life of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Helmed by acclaimed filmmaker Umesh Shukla, the 10-episode series has Mahesh Thakur, Ashish Sharma and Faisal Khan portraying the BJP leader at different stages of his life.
Mahesh, who will depict the present-day Modi, exclusively spoke to indianexpress.com about the series, his preparation and how he is waiting to know the PM’s response to his work.
Excerpts from the conversation:
How was the experience of playing PM Narendra Modi?
I was really honoured to play a role like this. And I was most excited when I got to know that it is an absolute adaptation of his life. There is nothing fictional in the show. We have gone by facts and depicted only real-life events. That for me was the best part.
But in recent times, we have seen biopics whitewashing the personality.
We are telling the story of his life, what all inspired him to do the things he did. It’s a different side of the PM we all know. And it’s all facts. If someone wants to recheck or even file RTIs, they are more than welcome.
Tell us more about the preparation that you did for the role.
It’s a really difficult thing to play the lead in a biopic of someone from current time. The reference point is so strong. People know the PM, relate to him and have seen him closely. To walk in his shoes was really difficult. When you do a mythological character, people are convinced as they know nothing about them personally. But here it was really a challenge. Thankfully, Umesh put me in a comfortable spot. He told me that he wants the character to be genuine, no mimicking or theatrics. We developed a look closest to him and I have taken a cue from the hearts of the people to play the PM. Now I am just waiting for the response.
So what has been the initial response after your first look was revealed?
I don’t want to sound pompous but it has been extremely positive. People love the PM and they are really eager to hear his story.
Do you feel it’s a responsibility to play the PM on the screen?
As an actor, I am looking at it from a creative point of view. It’s a larger than life role, and I am genuinely honoured. PM Modi is an international star in the true sense. It was overwhelming and a huge amount of excitement but my focus was on getting the job done. We wanted the expressions and shots to be perfect.
There is a film on the same subject releasing soon. Which medium works best for such stories?
Be it film or web series, if you want to see something, you will seek it. With a movie, you need to buy tickets to go to the theater and it’s about two hours of content. Over here, you can watch it at your pace. Also, we have about five hours of content. I think the web is a great option as you can watch it on your mobile or TV screen whenever you want.
Lastly, are you hoping for feedback from the man himself?
I think whoever says what, it doesn’t really matter. It’s all about what he says at the end of the day. Honestly, I am a little nervous as I know the PM will definitely watch the series. I really wonder what will he think (laughs).
Written by Mihir Bhuta and Radhika Anand, Modi – Journey of a Common Man is streaming on Eros Now.