Joined: 15 January 2006
Heyyy everyone im a HUGE Raqesh and Aditya fan since his Tum Bin days and well I was googling Raqesh for his pics but came across this article!..I think i love him even more now as Raqesh..Not forgetting Aditya is just as amazing!..
Rakesh Bapat may have changed his name today to Raqesh Vashisht. But everything else about him remains unchanged ' his dimpled smile, his soft-spoken manner and his charm that has girls swooning over him. Ask him about the name change and he states matter-of-factly, 'Vashisht is actually my original surname; we belong to that clan. But I had retained Bapat because it is my great forefather's surname. So when my mother asked me to change it to Vashisht, it seemed only natural. And my life has surely changed for the better ever since I undertook the name change.'
As he speaks, one can't help but notice his humility, which is at once surprising and endearing. Simple and down-to-earth, this Pune boy has no airs or starry tantrums. This, despite the fact that he's featured in numerous ad films, starred in several films and is one of the most sought-after actors on TV today. He attributes his humble nature to his army life upbringing. In fact, much like his father, he was all set to join the army. But life had other plans for him. 'I wanted to join the army as I was never interested in modelling and never thought I'd enter the glamour field. But my friend sent my pictures to the Grasim Mr. India contest and before I knew it, I was selected. It just happened by default,' says the 1999 first runner-up. 'In fact, my entire career happened by default,' he adds as an afterthought.
By default or not, his career sure did take off after that, with his first release Tum Bin being declared a hit. Though he did several films, none of them worked magic at the box office. That's when he, slowly but surely, moved from films to TV serials. It was a risky gamble ' and as is true of most risky gambles, it paid off. After doing an interesting mix of roles in successful serials like Saat Phere and Ek Packet Umeed, he is today a part of Yash Raj's Seven ' a series on Sony that is hugely popular with the youth.
'Seven is not a regular serial by any standard. It's amazing how it deals with supernatural powers and ancient mythology while being set in today's times,' he gushes. 'The most important reason for doing the show was, of course, that Yash Raj was producing it. I mean, everyone entering the industry wants to work with them and I was no different. Because, frankly speaking, it cannot get bigger than Yash Raj,' emphasizes the actor who portrays the complex character of Shlok with uncanny ease. Ask him about how it was working in Seven and he eagerly replies, 'Siddharth Anand Kumar who is the show's director is a friend of mine, so we shared a great equation. And that's why work became that much easier.'
And what about Shama Sikander, his good-looking co-star in the show? 'Shama is a fantastic person to work with, she is very co-operative and that's what you expect from a co-star. We both just hit it off from day one and even now, though Seven is wrapped up, we are still very much in touch,' says the actor with his trademark dimpled smile. Seven turned out to be a win-win situation for everybody involved. Yash Raj found in it a programme that the fickle youth welcomed with open arms and Raqesh, being one of the leads in the show, found the spotlight on him again.
Not one to bask in the glory for too long or turn complacent, Raqesh concentrated on the new job at hand ' a film. And it was not just another film. But a film with his favourite director, John Mathew Mathan. 'I've been a fan of his work,' says the actor beaming with child-like earnestness. 'Right after watching Sarfarosh, I had decided that I would work with him someday. And now it's a dream come true to work with him in A New Love Isshtory.' Due for release in the latter half of the year, A New Love Isshtory is a love triangle that has him playing the lead along with Himesh Reshammiya and debutante Niharika Singh. So was he comfortable sharing screen space with Himesh or did he worry about having to play second fiddle to the music director-turned-actor?
'When I take up a film, I look at my role and the impact it is going to make. Everything else is secondary. Even in this film, I was happy with my role. When John Mathew Mathan narrated the story to me, I was completely convinced. So it didn't really matter to me who else was in the film or how long my role was going to be. Plus, there was the opportunity to work with John Mathew Mathan. I wasn't going to give that away,' he reasons. 'Even if you look at Tum Bin ' it was my debut film but my role was really short. It was not a typical hero-role that you want to make your debut with. Having known that, I still wanted to do the role because I was sure it would leave an impact. And it did,' he confidently states.
And while we were on the topic of his latest film, we could not resist asking him if there was any truth to the rumours of him dating his co-star Niharika Singh. 'To be honest, we were seeing each other for a while,' says the young actor taking us by surprise. After all, he has always maintained a squeaky clean image and has hardly been linked to any of his co-stars ' an unusual feat for someone who's been in the industry for almost a decade now. 'You know how they say opposites attract. We, on the other hand, were too similar,' he muses. 'And we soon realised that we were much better off as friends. That's when we decided to part ways. The good thing is it all ended amicably. And even today, she is a dear friend of mine.'
In spite of his romantic disappointment, Raqesh is today in a good place. A successful TV series to his credit, a film with his dream director ' what next? 'I haven't really thought about it. I'm open to doing both ' TV, films' a healthy mix would be great. Anyway, television has changed a lot in the last few years. Today TV is not looked down upon. In fact, it's more popular and reaches more people. And personally, if you ask me, I'd any day prefer doing a hit serial than doing a flop film.'
Other than his films and TV commitments, he also has other passions that consume his time. Not many are aware that this actor is also a painter who has won at the national level. 'Painting is my passion. I don't remember how it started but I've always enjoyed it. Even now when I am not busy shooting, I like to spend time painting and honing my skills,' he confesses.
So after Raqesh Vashisht ' the actor, do we get to see Raqesh Vashisht ' the artist as well? 'Maybe someday,' he smiles mysteriously.
* By Eepsita Guha
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