Joined: 03 February 2010
Rajan Shahi's Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai has been doing well on the channel and so naturally it has benefitted not only the show's lead pair but also its character artistes. Whether it is Sandip Mehta, Sanjeev Seth, Ather Habib, Pooja Joshi or the veteran Vinita Malik, all of them seem to be tailor made for the roles they are playing.
However, the character of Mahendra Pratap Singhania stands out.
Played by Sanjay Gandhi, the character fondly called Daddajee, has become quite popular for his mannerisms and acting.
TellyChakkar meets the man behind Daddajee.
On his journey from Delhi to Mumbai
I was born and brought up in Delhi. I realised at a very young age that I wanted to become an actor. After completing my basic education, I joined National School of Drama and came in contact with Robin Das. He was then a teacher in FAMT and I became his 'disciple'. The next four years were full of theatre and stage shows. And then, almost 20 years back I decided to move to Mumbai and met Makrand Despande at Prithvi Theatre. That was the beginning of my journey in Mumbai. I became a part of his theatre group Ansh and did many plays with him.
My seniors taught me to work hard and be serious in my effort and that success would automatically follow.
On his work on the small screen
I have worked in many shows including Pradhan Mantri on Zee, Love Marriage (in which I played the main villain), Kutumb, Kahin to Milenge, Kayamath and Choona Hain Aasman. I have also played the role of Gandhar Naresh in Ekta Kapoor'sMahabharat. But I must admit it was only after Yeh Rishta that people really started noticing me. It feels great. I have even done a small role in Anurag Kashyap'sBlack Friday.
On Daddajee's role
When Rajan Shahi first told me about this role, I was amazed by the clarity he had about this part. Even without any make- up, he saw 'Daddajee' in me. Rajan, who I have known for a long time, told me that once I start working in the show, I will feel the difference, that I will begin seeing myself in that role. He was right. People have started liking me. That was the best award I could ever get. For me, the reward is the love I get from my viewers.
I feel my theatre background has helped me in all the roles I have played so far. I have never done plays for money and have always done experimental, intense theatre.
On his preparation for the role
Mahendra Pratap is a staunch Marwari and I had to speak in his language. I had to take some lessons in Marwari when I started shooting for the serial. But the authentic Marwari was proving to be too heavy for the viewers. So we modified it slightly and put it in a different format to make it easier to understand.
On the lead cast of Yeh Rishta
I think both Karan (Mehra) and Hina (Khan) are extremely talented and dedicated actors. They have a tremendous urge for learning which I feel is very important to become a good performer. They observe me on the sets and so do I. Later on we exchange tips on acting. They are very good listeners which has helped them in becoming what they are today.
On getting other offers
After Yeh Rishta became the number one show on small screen, I have got good offers from the makers of Jyoti, Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Hi Kijo and Balika Vadhu. All of them tried to cast me in a negative role. I was a bit surprised when they offered me negative roles, something which I did not do in Yeh Rishta. But after I discussed the options with a few people close to me I felt if people see me in negative roles in new shows, they will not accept me as Daddajee! So I stayed away from other offers.
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