months ago Amar Upadhyay was just another up and coming
television actor with the good fortune to be a part of the
most popular soap on Indian cable television, Kyunki
Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi (KSBKBT). Not so today.
all changed for him after Ekta Kapoor, creative director
of Balaji Films which produces KSBKBT for Star, decided
to bump off Mihir (the character he plays) to further boost
the soap's TRPs. Since KSBKBT's launch on 3 July,
2000, Mihir, with his good natured and pleasant appearance,
grew on audiences and become a household favourite, so the
sudden twist in the tale where he dies came as a rude shock
poured into Balaji's offices, with anxious enquiries about
Upadhayay's well being and even whether Mihir was alright
in real life. Why else would they want him out of the serial,
was the question. There were others who were livid at the
turn the story had taken and irate callers even vowed not
to watch the serial anymore. To quote a song from the Hindi
filmstar Govinda's movie Pardesi Babu: "It happens
only in India."
digress. The point is that Upadhyay is very much in the
public spotlight and loving every minute of it. "I do come
back in Kyunki Saas... flashback scenes," says Upadhayay.
Things are just not the same for him anymore. "Nearly 17
offers have come this month, even a proposal to act in movies,"
correspondent Harsha Khot caught up with the "good boy of
television", Amar Upadhyay, and found him still on a high.
Excerpts from the conversation.
the audience's reaction to the death of 'Mihir Virani'
in Kyunki Saas... brought any changes in you?
certainly. Now I have to be more careful while signing
up for serials or projects. I did not expect such a
reaction but I am enjoying it. With this I've realised
that there are people watching and observing me so now
I'll take up roles keeping the audience in mind. The
response has raised expectation from me, and now I want
that my acting should be able to keep the public on
edge with my performance. If it's the movies they come
to see me for, I want them to get entertained with my
performance so the expectations I have of myself have
an actor what is important to you before taking up an assignment?
Three things. First the script, then marketing and lastly
publicity. There are two things that I would definitely
go for after approving the script. Firstly, who is producing
the product and then how well is it going to be marketed.
But the script is the most important. For instance the movie
Pyar Mein Kabhi Kabhi. It was publicised so well
but it was a flop. It lacked a good storyline.
that all you would be looking for?
emphasis is on exclusivity of the role. Right now I have
been approached with some offers promising me six figure
sums per episode, but since I intend to be in this field
for a long time and I believe exclusive roles is what is
going to make me last.
are a chemical engineer. How did you end up in acting?
have been in the modelling scene ever since my college days
and have done all possible FMCG (fast moving consumer goods)
ads like that of various soaps, shampoos, etc. After finishing
college, I hunted for jobs but couldn't get one so I decided
to take up tele-serials and advertising assignments that
were coming my way.
was it acting in a serial for the first time?
was in the sitcom Dekh Bhai Dekh that I got my
break in television. I play the role of 'Chachu'. There
I did not act, I think. I just spoke lines from the
script. I was very nervous since the Dekh Bhai Dekh
team consisted of eminent names like Shekhar Suman,
Navin Nischol, Bhavana Balsaver and Farida Jalal. But
since there were other kids in the serial, I would compare
myself to them and say to myself 'I have company, I
am not alone'.
different are you from the kind of roles you play?
I have this "good boy
of television" image and the roles that I have been playing
so far are quite similar and limited in their range. I am
not like that.
in what way?
The characters I play are limited by the script while
in real life I would have handled adverse situations head-on
and done something about it.
you often feel it would have been better if you had acted
out a scene in a different way?
you approach the director and discuss your doubts?
I often do that, and many a times I am wrong. But earlier
I would quietly do whatever I was asked to do.
do you work on emotional scenes?
In an emotional
scene where I really can't get the emotions required,
I think of something very drastic, say a death of a
dear one and presto the emotions flow.
Ram in Kalash
you always serious about acting?
No, I went on taking up assignments as they came along.
I have done all possible things that came my way. FMCG ads
for shampoos, soaps… etc.
about acting made you think of it seriously as a profession?
Acting has more security than modelling. Even if you take
Dekh Bhai Dekh where I was a novice. I was having
fun and loved being seen on television. In September '98
when the ads weren't coming, I gave it a serious thought
and decided that I wanted to be here permanently. In the
serial Tulsi there were good actors like Rajeev Verma,
who I watched very carefully. They have a certain style
and approach which I observed. I didn't discuss the issue
with anybody as such. I just decided for myself.
you be taking up different kinds of roles?
At this point of time I have not been offered roles different
from what I have been doing till now. Mihir (Kyunki Saas…),
Ram (Kalash), Akshat (Mehendi Tere Naam Ki).
They all are good people, well natured. But I want to break
this image and do some characters with more shades of grey.
Now I want to show that I can do anything.
'Ram', 'Akshat', 'Mihir' are quite similar characters,
have you tried to make them appear different from each
are a lot of ways to make them look different. First
is appearance. 'Akshat' is always in formal suits,
'Mihir' is always in Kurta Pyjamas while 'Ram' is
mostly a shirt and trousers guy. And each character
has slightly different mannerisms. For instance, 'Ram'
has a peculiar mannerism of saying 'huh huh, do you
understand what I am saying' to make sure he has been
heard clearly. However, there is not much you can
do to bring out the differences in these characters,
and that's the reason I am handling only a few projects
at a time. At the moment I am doing three.
selecting a role, who do you turn to for advice?
I decide for myself, nobody tells me. I give a nod if I
want to take up the project and decide on how I should play
What is your approach towards acting?
I just follow my heart and the mind controls it. Nobody
is teaching me anything. I am teaching myself. I don't follow
any method. I meet a lot of people, observe them and if
I like something of somebody it stays in my mind and if
the situation requires it I try to use those mannerisms.
I listen to the character and do it accordingly on the sets,
apart from that I don't think about it at home or anywhere
else. On the sets I give my best. I think about how I would
react to the given situation either as Ram, Mihir, or me
and do what I feel would be appropriate. And if I go wrong
the director is there to correct me.
How long does it take you to grasp the script?
It doesn't take me very long, hardly a look or two at the
script to grasp the dialogues. Then while acting I understand
of the mood of the character. It is only when two unconnected
scenes are shot that I have to refer back to the script.
would you define Amar?
I am very humble, very polite, who
when not acting likes to watch movies in the theatre, surf
the net at a friend's place in Malad, or just relax at home
reading a novel.
kind of books do you like to read and why?
Jeffrey Archer and Sidney Sheldon are my favourite authors.
What I like about Archer's novels is that the protagonist
comes mostly from a poor background and ultimately makes
it big. The journey of a lad born into a poor family to
become somebody big is so beautiful; its success is inspiring.
Every stage of the journey that characters in books like
Kane and Able, As the Crow Flies, Fourth
Estate inspires me. Even Sidney Sheldon's books are
on the same lines.
from books what inspires you?
Books do inspire but in real life, as an actor, it is good
performances which do it for me. I have seen all the Amitabh
Bachchan and Aamir Khan movies. I don't know how Amitabh's
approach has been but I ponder over how they could have
done that. Other than that, people I meet or come across
every day inspire me. Whenever I meet people, I observe
their ways, and if I like it, it lingers in my mind and
maybe in a year or two when a similar situation or character
comes across it helps me, and I wonder if I could play around
that, so my antennae are always up.
would you want to be in the next few years?
are your favourite directors?
I see myself as an actor for a long time. But at some
point in my life I want to get into direction.
Anurag Mathur, Ashish Patil and Mahendra Batra. They
have different techniques. Mahendra Batra for one uses a lot
of gimmicks. For instance, suppose a scene requires to be
shot in a restaurant, he would do the same in a room. The
room would be arranged and the scenes shot from such camera
angles that it gives a feel just like a real restaurant. He
will cut a lot and as director experiment with camera angles
a lot. He won't take long shots, but capture scene from every
angle, and shoot the scenes in the way that is more than what's
written in the script. It is all about different angles and
position. Ashish Patil come from the Gautami Adhikari school.
He shoots in such a way that it enhances dull scenes, he does
believe in making the scene larger than life. Suppose he would
shoot whole master scene first. He doesn't believe in angles
but still he would shoot the whole master scene first. Where
there is dull scene he know how to enhance it. The emphasis
is on expression. Mahendra is more of a good technician although
at time he does shoot a master.
do you perceive the television industry as a medium?
With a lot more channels coming into the picture,
I see it as a mega giant much bigger than films. You
can experiment here. When Sholay became a hit,
four million people watched it over five to six years
and enjoyed it. Kyunki Saas… reaches every
cable house. Cable reaches 40 million people. The
downside is that TV memory is very shortlived. Since
people watch it for free they tend to take it lightly,
while in the theatre people pay so they observe you
more seriously. You get less time on the big screen
but its challenging while on the small screen since
you can experiment a lot and it sates an actor's appetite.
you a product of boom in the television industry?
When I joined television, I had not given it a thought
really. I could just as easily have approached theatre but
the serials came along. Had the serials not come my way, I
may have taken up theatre. I tried a lot for jobs. Anything
from chemical engineering to marketing. But somehow I did
not like the thought of a desk job.
about acting do you dislike?
Scenes that require hamming. I want to be as realistic as
possible. Even where the loud stuff is required, I try to
be as normal and casual as possible.
would you define success?
Like the one I got for 'Mihir.' I still can't believe
the response I've got. I want to be mobbed all the time. Every
since the character expired, it's all been really crazy. Now
I want more of that. That is success. That is what I have
always craved for all these years. Success in my eyes is to
be mobbed all the time.