Playing the role of Chirag Modi in Tera Mera Saath Rahe
After so many years I am doing a positive role and people are loving the comic timing. I am getting a huge and absolutely brilliant response.
Replacing an actor and joining a show mid-way, any inhibitions?
To be honest I had no idea about the show and the actor who was previously playing the role. The show happened to me very randomly. I had left for my hometown. I got a call to attend the mock shoot. I went for the mock shoot late at night. The very next day I left for Punjab. I landed and saw 20 missed calls. I learnt that I got selected and had received messages that I need to fly back immediately. It was Diwali time and my family is my priority. Diwali is at home every year. So I told them that I would be able to shoot post Diwali. And they adjusted.
Gaining popularity with Diya aur Baati Hum and then staying away from the limelight…
It was a conscious decision. I wanted to do web shows. I took a break from TV for 2-3 years. I did a few acting workshops. I focused on my health, my family. I did four web series. But they are like films. Once they are fully made, they go to a platform. So I have three web series, which are yet to be released. I had shot them before lockdown. So now I have a lot of time in my hand. So I thought I would come back to TV. It is important to keep doing something or the other. As an actor, you need to be seen. Jo dikhta hai wo bikta hai. I am an introvert. I don’t like partying and all. So I can act. But I have realised how important it is to socialize in today’s time. Without an Instagram profile, you won’t even get work. It’s a big issue for actors. But I am working on it.
Being an introvert and in today’s times, do you face difficulty in keeping up with social media influence?
It gets difficult. Ever since I joined Instagram, I have done a live chat only once. I know interaction with the audience is important. But I make sure, if I get any DM or message from a fan, I reply to them. I have limited friends. I like my space and I am family-oriented. I like to keep it that way. I love to travel and often go to Himachal, spend some ‘me time’ and come back. But I am trying to change a bit and become more active. Our work is to entertain people and I am trying to do that.
So did you lose out on projects due to social media?
Yes, it has happened. I won’t take names but a few production houses did ask me for my Instagram profile. I don’t understand how they are going to judge my acting skills after seeing my Instagram profile? What will they judge by seeing my reels? I wanted to raise this point. This is not the right way to judge an actor. Anybody can buy followers. But there is no point. I believe in organic growth. For me, acting is more important. I would rather go to a set and work and work on myself than spend two hours shooting for a reel.
Has it affected you when the projects you have worked on didn’t see the light of the day?
It affects a lot mentally and physically when the expectations are not met. I shot one web show in Goa, which hasn’t been released yet. I had a big role there. In two other web series too, I have a major lead. But none of them have been released. You feel when you work on a project, it will release and people will see you, your work. And you will get opportunities. This is the reason why I took up the TV show so that atleast people will see me on-screen. In our industry, actors often slip into depression. You stay away from family, and it is not easy to survive to get work. You have to be very strong mentally and financially sound to survive in Mumbai. People think acting is a very easy job. But in reality, the process is very tiring, suffocating and exhausting. You don’t see that on-screen. Sometimes you do get thoughts of trying something else, but our passion is acting.
During the pandemic, did you face any financial difficulty?
Honestly, I have been stable enough to face any financial difficulty. Many don’t know that I didn’t come to Mumbai for acting. I came to Mumbai for diamond jewellery business. I came to learn diamond work and my parents sent me to Mumbai. But acting was my choice. The day I chose acting, I stopped asking for money from my parents. Thankfully, I have been surviving on my own and never faced any such issue.
So how did you get bit by the acting bug?
It’s a long and interesting story. My grandfather had a gold jewellery business. He always wanted me to go into the diamond line. So I came to learn about diamonds… the loose diamonds, their grading assortment, shading. I was working in an office in Panchratna. I worked there for one and half years. I had no clue about acting and didn’t think about it in my wildest dreams. I was working in a jewellery business. So then, one of my friends from Delhi came to Mumbai to try acting. He got my portfolio shot forcefully. He distributed my pictures to the coordinator. One day, I was going back home after office work and the coordinator called me for a look test. I had no idea what a look test was. So I go there and find Riya Sen and Randeep Hooda were shooting for a film. I was given lines and asked to perform. I got selected on the spot and I was asked to come the next day for the shoot. They told me I have got some good scenes with the actors. I went back home and couldn’t figure out how to break this news. So I thought first let me shoot for the film. I skipped the office for 3-4 days. My brother complained to my parents that I am not going to work. Then my mother confronted me and I told her about the shoot. She couldn’t believe it and started scolding me. I felt good about acting. I knew that ads are also shot. So I started doing TV commercials. Then my family started seeing me on TV and they felt relieved and happy. So after that first film experience, I did several commercials. Then I attended the look test for the TV show Kaali – Ek Agnipariksha. I will forever be grateful to Mrinal Jha and Abhigyan Jha for giving me my first break on TV. After that show I got Diya Aur Baati Hum. So by then I left my diamond work and I entered acting.
You were slowly getting recognition as DABH became a hugely popular show; how was that moment for you?
With DABH, people started recognising me. Whenever I would travel anywhere, be it my hometown or any place else, people would instantly recognise me. Once I was attending a friend’s wedding, and there I realised the reach of television. My friend was getting married, and people flocked to meet me. I literally had to run away from the venue. It was a big show at that time. People still know me as Mohit from DABH. I would even tell my parents not to tell anyone that I am coming home. It would get difficult as people would randomly come to meet me. They would say, ‘Hamare sheher se ladka hai, hume milna hai.’ It felt good as well when people would appreciate my character.
Funny fan incident
I would also face a lot of hatred for my role as Mohit. It turned negative towards the end and aunties would come to me and gaali dete the. It would get difficult to convince them that it’s my reel role. But that also meant, I am doing my job well.