Mohit Raina, popularly known for playing the role of Mahadev in the TV series Devon Ka Dev Mahadev, went on to do a web series, 21 – Sarfarosh 1987 Saragarh which was based on the battle of Saragrahi and another one titled Bhaukaal which is yet to be released. The actor who has a large female fan-following is now making his B-town debut with Aditya Dhar’s Uri which is based on the 2016 Indian Army’s surgical strikes on Pakistan as a retaliation for the Uri attack.
Q. We have always seen you gaining weight, loosing weight, or learning dance for your roles. What drives you to do all these things?
Mohit: The main reason is to, kind of, to satisfied my so-called creative buds inside me which have always made me choose my roles very differently and my approach to them has also been very different. Initially when you come here, you are in search of money and fame but gradually when you mature, you realise with time that there are a lot of other aspects to it. I understood those aspects on time. This, for me, wasn’t about money and fame, it slowly became something about my own needs.
Q. You’ve been a popular names on TV. Were you offered films back then? What took you so long to say yes to Bollywood?
Mohit: I started getting movie opportunities some 2-3 years back and I realized then that I was not connecting to the character or to the story which was being approached to me. As a TV actor, there are always chances that you might get lost into the world of cinema. You have to make your own space slowly and gradually or you could easily loose your own identity. The project offered to me were not at the perfect project with which I wanted to start my journey in cinema, although those were good movies. But I wasn’t really content. So I was still continuing in TV and enjoying the digital phase that our country is going through till 21 Sarfarosh- Saragarhi 1897 arrived to me.
Q. You’ve immense female fan following. How was their reaction of you being a part of such a movie?
Mohit: They were more than happy. I received many mails and messages, more than me, they were happy about this project. I recently received a mail explaining me how I should go about my career, hiring right agent and working with certain directors. This shows the love that people have for you.
Q. Any crazy incident you’d like share which a fan of yours have done for you.
Mohit: There we’re two incidents that I would like to share. One was, some guy had bought a house and he wanted me to accompany him for the first time when we enters his house. I humbly said sorry to him and he met me after two years and said that he’s still waiting for me and hasn’t entered the house. So I had to video call him when he entered his house with his family, because it wasn’t possible for me to physical be present there. So that day I dedicated two hours to him. Another was, a female was sending me messages that she wants to send me gifts and I wasn’t paying much attention to it but one day I received all those gifts on my front door and then she sent me a picture of them on my door.
Q. How was it working with Vicky Kaushal and Paresh Rawal in Uri?
Mohit: Vicky is leading the project and I’m more than happy that my name is being attached to this cast with Paresh Rawal sir and Kirti Kulhari. Sharing a screen space with Paresh Rawal is a big thing for me. I don’t think I’m gonna increase or make much of a difference because this world is very different. I’ll come to know later how people have reached to it.
Q. What was the most toughest part for you during shooting Uri?
Mohit: During the course of the movie, I realized how some kill can kill somebody when they’re sleeping. That emotion or that visual to see of lot of people sleeping and somebody coming and killing them was quite jittering for me.
Q. Now that you have stepped into cinema, do you have any plans to follow a certain template or plan for choosing projects?
Mohit: I just want to be part of the right projects. Right projects are those which connects with the audience. And what will connect audience in today’s time is lot of realistic issues. You cannot fool today’s audience. They’ve lot of options. They I’ll just flip sides and move on so you’ve to be very careful. It’s not a very conscious plan but I’d like to be very selective in the things which I do. The length doesn’t matter but the impact and motive of the character matters to me more. Any story for that matter, where the character leaves a mark.
Q. What is your take on the patriotic movies like Raazi, Parmanu, Uri etc?
Mohit: I was more than happy doing my TV and digital space. I was in Gujarat in mid 2017 and I read in a local paper that a movie has been announced by RSVP with Vicky Kaushal and a new director. I read it and I thought wow what a movie. And three-four months down the line I get a call from Aditya Dhar about his project and I thought he must have done the casting by now. He told me he hasn’t done that yet and he’ll meet me and explain it to me. When I met him, I realized the planning and the scale on which they were gonna make this project at. The first thought that I got was that this movie will never get made again because of the event that has occurred. I pray to God that nothing like this happens again. So at that point I decided that I want to be part of this. Showing the right way for the right purpose is something we should do as patriotic people. I would like to make people aware of what is good and bad for our society. I don’t have the capacity of going out there and fighting the battle, I can just tell them what is right and what is wrong. Small things like telling people to follow signal can lead to betterment of the society. I’m born and bought up in Kashmir so I’ve a very different connection with defence forces. As a 4-5 years old, I used to sit and interact with them, not knowing who these people are. When I was 8 years old, I knew what was the thickness of the soul of the issue. I’ve lived that life of defence forces very closely. Because in metropolitan cities you hardly get to see any army person. But in local areas in Kashmir, more than civilians you see more army personnels. I’m living the dream of wearing the army uniform. After Kargil war had happened, I was going to go to the army but due to my vision issue I couldn’t go the NDA.
Q. Some people often speak ill about the soldiers. Now that you’ve acted as one, how would you respond to this?
Mohit: It’s sad when someone is pointing fingers at them because they are the ones who are selfless. You should go and see the environment that they live in, their food and their discipline. So if someone sitting in the metropolitan city having a glass of wine in his hands, comments about them, it’s a very sad state. Army personnels are very well respected in Kashmir. Obviously there are certain ones who don’t face the same respect.
Q. What do you think about the people’s opinion who are staying in Kashmir regarding media?
Mohit: A young person only has two things in his mind, his dreams and his aspirations. He doesn’t really care who is fighting for what unless and until he has to compromise. So what the youth over there has gone through is the sad part. The generation who had the capacity to move out, they have left but there are certain people who didn’t have the financial power, they had to be there so they lack many opportunities. That’s really sad that people have to go through all that.
Q. There was a time when mythology was huge on TV but then that suddenly disappeared but then because of you, people have started liking it more, eg Mahabharat. How does it feel?
Mohit: It’s surreal. I’d like to thank the team. There was a channel called StarOne which was revamped into LifeOk. And that was looked after directly by 21st Century Fox so there was huge team for revamping that channel. This show was the flagship show of that channel. There were around 500-600 people who were only working for that particular show. So when there are so many people working and the basic thing was the story, there were lot of story people didn’t connect to because they didn’t know about it. Those things when came out, people just loved it. And it kept happening.
Q. Any anecdotes you’d like to share while shooting Uri? With whom did you become the more closest to?
Mohit: There is one scene when Paresh sir comes and Vicky and me with other soldiers are standing, he was supposed to talk to us in the scene but the voice wasn’t being recorded. Now he is such a senior actor and I was in serious soldier avatar and he came and started talking about breakfast and then I burst out laughing even after controlling so much. And Vicky and I have spent three months together, we’ve done a lot of physical training and workshops. In the morning we used to go to Navy Nagar and get trained by the Army personnel in Mumbai. In the afternoon we had acting workshops and evening lectures from special forces. Later physical training again by soldiers. So we’ve spent so much time together that we know everything about each other now, we’ve bonded that way.
Q. Did you all had to bulk up a lot?
Mohit: Yeah, Aditya had very clear instructions for everyone. He wanted everybody to look a certain way. Vicky was the only one who had to bulk up a lot and his problem was that he couldn’t bulk up. And I had to shred down. Aditya wanted to showcase everyone belonged to different regions, it was a mixture.
Q. What is your take on audience bashing up against female actors when they post bikini photos on Instagram who have played a role as a mythology character before. Whereas with male actors, nothing like this happens.
Mohit: People have to realize that they are playing a certain character and you have to give them the benefit of the doubt. Once what happened with me was, an elderly lady came up to me while I was shooting a mythological character and fell down on my feet and started crying. I instantly held her up and asked what has happened. She said you don’t tell me to stop crying and don’t take away my moment that I’m spending with you, I’m not doing this to you, I am doing this to the character or to my belief that I’ve seen so you’ve no right to take it away from me. Then I said okay, if these four seconds give you happiness of lifetime then definitely I’m nobody to stop you. Tomorrow if an elderly female sees me doing something that is not according to her beliefs, she might get offended but she has to gradually realize that he is just an actor. And what’s happening with female actors is not right. She has her right to do or wear whatever she wants to.
Q. Any other future projects you?
Mohit: I’ll be working on a digital project and I’m interested in the phase which digital platform has brought in. That will come out in a month or so.
Q. Why did you do Don Muthu Swami?
Mohit: A newcomer, who doesn’t know anything about film making and comes to Bombay and he sees the director who has worked with Amitabh Bacchan and other biggies, he tells you that he’s gonna launch you, what do you do? He was making a remake of an English film. I instantly said him okay. Slowly slowly with realize things and everything is different.
BY: RUJUTA THETE