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INTERVIEW: “Mohit Raina is like an Elder Brother to me”, Paras Rajj Ganndhhi

Ghaziabad boy Paras Rajj Ganndhhi is all set to make his debut in a larger than life show 21 Sarfarosh: Saragarhi 1897, to be showcased on Discover JEET, where he plays a soilder. The show is inspired by the 21 Sikh soldiers who fought against 10,000 Afghani tribesmen on September 12, 1897, in what came to be known as the Battle of Saragarhi. The soldiers, part of the 36th Sikh Regiment of the Bengal Infantry, valiantly defended the Saragarhi out post in the hills of the North-West Frontier Province (now in Pakistan) despite being up against overwhelming numbers. Paras brings an element of entertainment and fun with his character in the show and we chatted with him on his role, life and struggle to make it big. Let’s take a look at his interview:

Q. Tell us something about you character in 21 Sarfarosh: Saragarhi 1897.

Paras Rajj Ganndhhi: My Character’s name is Ram Singh. Though he is one of those 21 bravest soldiers fought with the 10,000 Afghani men, he never wanted to become a soldier. He is an aspiring singer, who never got the respect of his family because he wasn’t able to crack something to make a career in singing. That’s when an offer from the army comes and he takes it up to prove his family he can do something. He has an elder brother too who he envies for getting all the attention from his family. He feels controlled by his brother. He’s a very brave yet joyful character, someone who does what he’s given. There are different shades to his character. How he realizes his brother’s sacrifices and love for him is the story to watch out.

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Q. Hailing from a city like Ghaziabad, how did you prepare yourself to speak Punjabi for your character?

Paras Rajj Ganndhhi: I belong to Punjab but my family shifted to Ghaziabad 20 years ago. In order to prepare for a Punjabi character that lived 100 years ago, I had to incorporate few gestures from that era, like being loud and reacting to things in a different manner. I started interacting with a lot of Punjabi friends of mine to know how they communicate in daily life. I started watching classic Punjabi movies too to learn the body language and dialogue delivery. Also, most importantly, I started talking in Punjabi with my very typical Punjabi grandmother whom I earlier used to communicate in Hindi. Listening to Punjabi songs also helped. Even on sets we used talk in Punjabi.

Q. We hear that you had to sign for your character. How did that happen?

Paras Rajj Ganndhhi: I sing Gurubanis in the show, which are dedicated prayers to Guru Gobind Singh. My original voice has been used for the singing bits because the makers wanted to show a very natural tone to my character.

Q. Tell us something about the support you got from your family for your profession.

Paras Rajj Ganndhhi: I lost my father when I was 12 or 13 years old and since then my mom has been supporting me. I’m a single child. Belonging to a city like Ghaziabad where there are no film schools or where the profession isn’t looked upon as a stable career, I had no sources to support my passion. My mom used to work and then I joined her too in supporting us. Just like my character Ram Singh who wanted to be a singer, I had a spark within me to be an actor. I was fascinated about the entertainment industry.

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Q. Enlighten us on your struggle in this city and the entertainment field.

Paras Rajj Ganndhhi: When I came to Mumbai I didn’t know anything. I was an assistant manager before I came here. It was 2012 that I shifted here. I had a responsibility to support my mother and similarly she always encouraged me to follow my dreams so that I never have any regret of not having followed my dreams. I started doing a night shift job in a BPO because I didn’t know anything about acting and where to start with. I had only done street plays in Delhi. Meanwhile I also joined Prithvi theatre with Salim Arif ji and played a part in Gulzar Sahab’s scripted plays. It had been two years that I was juggling between theatre and my job which was taking a toll on my health because in the morning it would be doing plays and in the night it was my job. I then quit my job and completely focused on acting. It was risk as I wouldn’t be able to support my mom but I had to do it. 2015 onwards I started auditioning and landed a role in this film called ‘Phullu’. I also assisted my director on the film. I gained a lot of experience from it. I continued my plays and audition.

Q. How did you land Ram Singh’s role?

Paras Rajj Ganndhhi: I decided to change my look by growing a beard. I had always maintained a clean shaven upmarket look. That is when I learnt of the auditions for 21 Sarfarosh: Saragahi 1897 and my first audition was liked by the casting team, but they were still skeptical. They called me for another audition just to be sure because they already has someone onboard for the role. I still remember they complimented me by saying your eyes speak a lot. I was excited to be a part of such a historically important show and character. The show shall also go on Netflix and reaching an audience in almost 200 countries.

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Q. What rapport do you share with Mohit Raina?

Paras Rajj Ganndhhi: He is like an elder brother to me. I loved working with him.

Q. Which director do you aspire to work with?

Paras Rajj Ganndhhi: I would like to work with Sanjay Leela Bhansali for the grand films he makes.

Q. Did you have to shape your body in a certain way for this character?

Paras Rajj Ganndhhi: For the role, I had to leave the gym. I was really muscular for the role. Though I had to be fit being in the army there is also a carefree side to it where I wouldn’t look appropriate with my toned body. Although to still be fit, I had joined Akshay Kumar’s martial arts training institute for a month and was more into functional training.

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