The handsome actor and Bipasha Basu’s husband has completed 14 years in the industry. After six years he is back on small screen as Mr. Bajaj in Star Plus’Kasauti Zindagi Kay. He gets candid with Fiji Times and shares about the show and more….
After 6 years, you are making a comeback on the television as Mr Bajaj. Comment
Like everything else, even television is evolving, a lot of additions have been made and there are many dimensions to it now. So it is nice that with time, everything, even the audience is more aware, and it shows through the television programs that are on television today. One can see where the audience is inclined today.
You were a part of the first season of KasautiiZindagii Kay and now you are playing Mr Bajaj. How are you feeling? Did it bring back old memories?
The first thing that came to mind was my track in the first season, I played Sharad. My most important scene in the show was when I stood up to Prerna when she gets to see who I actually was. I remember how Shweta Tiwari helped me to remember my lines and also taught me how to deliver them. She was a lot of help, she is very sweet and that was the first thing that hit me. Another thing that hit me was that one scene I did with Mr Bajaj, Ronit Roy, and I was so nervous that I kept forgetting my dialogues. But he is genuinely a nice, gentle human being and very humble. And he is very encouraging to everybody who is new so he was very patient and he told me to do it as many times as I want, but to do it properly. So that was very sweet of him. But now I’m playing Mr Bajaj, so it is quite a different feeling.
What made you say yes to portray an iconic character like Mr Bajaj?
The character is both challenging and exciting. I wanted to try my hand at something new which would bring out the best in me as an actor. There are a lot of layers and shades to the character which unfold as the show progresses. I consider myself very lucky, because normally someone who has already been a part of a show doesn’t want to be in that show again is basically because he/she doesn’t think that the role is as great as their previous one. I’ve thankfully been offered something which is on a different level altogether, there is no scope for comparison. So for me to say yes was the only option, there was nothing that I had to think about.
Ronit Roy’s portrayal of Mr Bajaj created a storm on the small screen and made him popular. It is a huge responsibility to portray Mr Bajaj’s character in the reboot, how do you handle the pressure and the comparisons which are bound to happen?
Mr Bajaj is still strongly instilled in the hearts and minds of the viewers, and will be a challenge to live up to the expectations. Ronit Roy has breathed life into the character of Mr Bajaj and portrayed the character beautifully. I will be adding my own personal touch to character and hope to justice to it. Mr Bajaj is set in the present age and time, he will be more modern and contemporary where the current generation viewers can draw parallels and see the relevance of this character even after a decade.
How will your portrayal of Mr Bajaj be different from Ronit Roy’s portral?
The character from that time to today has not really changed, but a lot many layers have been added to it, a lot of dimensions have been added to it. He is an adrenaline junkie, he always wants to live on the edge, and he is as ruthless a businessman he was in the previous season. But there is that fine line where if you fall on the wrong side, that’s the end of you. So that is where he prefers to be, he has made friends with chaos, and he is suitable in chaos, especially where he creates it. So that is one thing that is very different. Plus, like I said, everything evolves with time, the character also, with the additional layers has evolved.
There were a lot of speculations on who was going to essay the role of Mr Bajaj, but you are the chosen one. Comment.
It’s definitely a great privilege to portray the role of Mr Bajaj and grateful to Ekta Kapoor for giving me this opportunity and having the confidence in me to do justice to the role. I had couple of discussions with Ekta Kapoor and her team before finally being confirmed. I am really excited to play Komolika and eagerly waiting for the viewer’s response.
Donning a salt pepper look, must be quite difficult for you because at your age, actors are quite hesitant to play an older character, but your look is quite graceful.
I’m quite different in the sense that I like grey. I try very hard to make sure the grey stands out because it signifies that you’ve achieved something, you’ve gained some knowledge, that’s why your hair is probably greying. I don’t have a problem with grey as the colour of my hair, in my personal life, and professionally I think it adds more to you. So it is not difficult for me, it is quite nice, it is quite different.
When you play such a popular character as Mr Bajaj, there’s a lot of responsibility and expectations attached to it. How are you dealing with the same?
Mr Bajaj is an evergreen character which is close to viewer’s heart till date. Of course, it is difficult to play a character that has already been portrayed and loved by an entire generation, but it makes it even more exciting and challenging to play the role. I was nervous initially to take on the responsibility of playing such a powerful character but the team of KZK was very supportive and helpful. I hope to live up to the viewer’s expectations.
You are a fitness freak, but with age, has anything changed in the fitness aspect of your life?
I’ve always been an athlete. I grew up at Saudi, where we had nothing else to do but play. We used to play a lot, so inherently its always been there inside of me. I also used to swim 3 hours a day, for about 4-5 years, and when I get hooked onto to something, I make it a part of my routine. Fitness is something that has always resonated with me.
With age, definitely it changes, because the more you live, the more you experience, and you gain that much knowledge, so the obsolete methods that one used to use before, he/she doesn’t have to anymore. Because worldwide, the meaning, the use, the purpose of fitness has evolved. And today there is more clarity to the why of it. Today, people’s purpose to stay fit has changed, which is good, because its true purpose is now being served. And the body that we have, we should take better care of it, because we all want to live for a 100 years at least. And for that, how we change our lifestyle, how we look at fitness has become clearer today. So with age, that is one thing that has changed. Bipasha and I, we have also incorporated a lot of things, and omitted quite a few things as well. I used to do a lot of calisthenics, and I also practice yoga, so I used to follow a mix of fitness routines, but now I don’t have the time to follow it. So I try to minimize the use of weights, and optimize my bodyweight, which is the most effective way to exercise anywhere. Today it has become clearer as to what body parts one should work to exercise the chi, which the centre of all your bodily forces.
You’ve completed 14 years in the industry, so what have you learnt in all these years?
Every day you learn something new but in 14 years, you learn a lot of things. First thing you learn is acting, and in Balaji, whoever steps in, should actually be paying them and not the other way around because you get such brilliant training, especially during readings, the literature you study and understand, you can never compare it to your work experience. I’ve never been to a training school, I’ve never learnt acting, 5 of us were directly thrown into the deep end of the industry pool, so we didn’t really have any option other than learning because if you don’t learn, you will never move forward. So we used to learn as much as we could, and the set is one such place where we haven’t paid them any fees, but they have given us knowledge and money. So that was my first learning. I’ve also played a variety a roles, and with every role, with every piece of work, something or the other kept adding up. One needs to have the mind-set that one needs to learn, and you do end up learning things. Another learning is the things one must and must not do, which if you don’t learn, you won’t be in a great situation.