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"Right now, Kuch Toh Log Kahenge Is Piggybacking On Bade Achche Lagte Hain"
There are two kinds of people who rule the industry – those who are publicity hungry and those who choose to be known for their work. And Mohnish Behl is certainly an actor who belongs to the latter category. No wonder then that it's mighty difficult to forget his sincere portrayal of Dr. Shashank Gupta in the popular show Sanjivani - A Medical Boon. Be it Sanjivani… or Dill Mill Gayye, there's no doubt that playing a doctor has been rather lucky for him.
Exactly why, when the makers of Kuch Toh Log Kahenge were looking out for an actor who could do justice to the character of Dr. Ashutosh, Mohnish was the best and only option they saw. Despite all the critical acclaim, the initial response to the show has been only satisfactory. But Mohnish is hoping that the show picks up with time.
Mohnish, who's back on the small screen after a while with Kuch Toh…, admits that he took a long break because he believes in quality over quantity. "I do tend to be a little selective about the work I take on. With TV, you have to go back and do a particular character every single day. So I don't want to be bored and do it just for the sake of it. I was offered two scripts and I chose this one over the other."
Considering this show also required him to play a doctor, something that he's portrayed earlier on TV, what made him do it? "I just thought that it would be interesting to explore the emotional angle that is a part of this show. It's about a person in his mid 40s, who falls in love with a girl half his age. I love how the unlayering of his personality takes place on the show. My character is quite complex and caged about his emotions because of what has happened in his life. So I thought it was an interesting subject to work on," he informs.
One of the reasons Mohnish also took up the show was because of its producer, Rajan Shahi. "I have always wanted to work with Rajanji. The deciding factor was also the channel (Sony) it was going to be aired on. At the end of the day, everybody wants a larger footprint. You know when you work with a person like Rajanji, you realise that the production house is not there only to make money, but also to maintain their dignity and marketability."
Unfortunately, despite being projected as one of the most promising shows on the channel, it hasn't garnered the kind of response that was expected from it. The show got a lot of critical acclaim, but the TRPs haven't been pleasing enough. Since Mohnish is the face of the show, does that upset him? "You know, we got an opening TRP of 1.1. I am not so hooked onto the TRP game. But honestly, I thought it was a very poor opening considering the channel, the people involved and the publicity that Sony did for the show. I know that they left no stone unturned. I was looking at something like a 1.5 rating but that didn't happen," he pauses. "I also didn't agree with the time slot that was chosen. I thought that the 8 o' clock time slot wasn't right, because it's not a children's show. So that was a setback. Having said that, what Sony did in the second or third week is that they started a rerun at 11 o'clock. With that we got an average TRP of 1.39, which is better."
Bade Achche Lagte Hain, which is easily a hot favourite amongst the audience at present, also airs on the same channel, that too just before Kuch Toh... So does he see it as competition? "Not at all!" he says surprised. "At this point in time, thank God for Bade Achche... We come just after that so people who watch that stay on to watch Kuch Toh... too. We do get tremendous viewing because of that show. In fact, we're piggybacking on them. Besides, I think Ram (Kapoor) is doing a fabulous job in it. He's one of those actors, who is surely in my good books."
Moving on, Mohnish's TV career only boasts of roles that have seen him in a serious and stern avatar. Yes, he has received unprecedented amount of praise for them, but does that mean the audience will never see him in light-hearted roles? He disagrees, "I would love to comedy someday. As an actor, I feel a little tied down. How many different ways can you do the same stuff? That was one of my concerns when I took on another role as a doctor. So I had to make a conscious effort to characterize Dr. Ashutosh in a different way."
TV might be taking up most of his time currently, but the talented actor has had his fair share of memorable roles in films too. Over 20 years of experiencing both the worlds – TV and films, which of the two mediums have been more gratifying for him? "Both have worked for me to an extent. I don't know how many actors would say that they're satisfied with the kind of work they've done because dil always maange more. You always want more fame and appreciation. But I don't want to compare the two mediums. I think I've got a lot of satisfaction from cinema as well," he smiles, "I haven't been as choosy with cinema as I have been with TV. 98 per cent of my career has been films. I've done films like Hum Saath Saath Hain, which released in 1999 and people still remember me from it."
Professionally, Mohnish may al-ways portray grim characters, but personally, the actor is the exact opposite of his on-screen persona. A father to two lovely daughters and the perfect husband to his wife Ekta, Mohnish is a lucky man. Ask him why very little is known of his personal life and he laughs, "You don't hear about me because you don't ask. I have one wife and two daughters. My elder one is 18-and-half years old. She is studying law, while my younger one is two-and-half years old. We might have a third baby too! I got married to a young lady, ran away with her when she was 21 years old. My life is about going to work and coming home. I don't party. I don't promote my career by being seen in parties. I don't attend award functions. I will only attend those functions that have a personal meaning to me."
Any interview with the actor is incomplete without the mention of his late mother Nutan, who was undoubtedly one of the best actresses of her time. "She is the motivating factor in my life even today. She was very forgiving and non-judgmental as a human being. I can't say if she would've been proud of me as an actor. But I think she'd have appreciated the work I'm doing. But I don't know how the actress Nutan would've judged me."
While many TV stars are open to doing reality shows today, he insists that he will never enter that zone. "There are three kinds of reality shows. One is the music-based reality show and I'm not a singer. I'm not a dancer either. I escaped that all these years. So thank God for that! The other is the Bigg Boss type and I'm certainly not up for that. I love going back home to my family at the end of a tiring day. When the shifts extend beyond seven to eight hours, I want to go back home as soon as possible. Primarily, I'm an actor by profession and I like to have a script in hand and interpret a character. So why would I do a reality show?"
As we draw close to the end of our chat, I ask Mohnish what's in store for him in the future and he smiles, "I hope I work next year like I am working this year. I'm a very insecure person as far as my career is concerned. It's here today, gone tomorrow," he continues, "On a personal level, I hope my elder daughter does well in her studies. I hope my wife loves me more and more. My little one should get off her bottle and start drinking milk from a glass! It's lovely to have her around. Coming home to her feels so good. I have three women in my life, so it's pretty much a king's life though I am so busy."
Well, with a show that's slowly but surely catching up and a loving family to go back to, Mohnish is not only a content actor but also a happy man. Not many actors can boast of this, but he sure is amongst the lucky few.
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Stars on offscreen friends-Mohnish
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But, it was for a different show..
The show will be produced by Saurabh Tewari...
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