He wanted to be a soccer star but ended up being a vampire. Small-screen heartthrob Vivian Dsena tells t2 what goes into playing the brooding, strikingly handsome and 'bloody' popular Abhay Raichand in Ekta Kapoor's Twilight-inspired Pyaar Kii Ye Ek Kahaani on STAR One'
Abhay Raichand hit screens less than a year ago and today you are one of the most popular stars on Indian television. How did it all happen?
I was modelling for a couple of years after getting into the profession through a Gladrags contest that I had enrolled in midway through my engineering entrance exams in Ujjain. I really hadn't thought about getting into acting, but one day, I was told that Ekta Kapoor was auditioning for a role in her popular show Kasamh Se. I went in with a friend and auditioned for a lark and got selected. I did Kasamh Se for about a year and Ganga(on Colors) for a few months.
Then Ekta Ma'am told me that she was making a very contemporary but dark love story and wanted me on board. I had no idea at that point of time that I was going to play a vampire! I was very nervous and had huge apprehensions about the character. But once the show went on air, there was no looking back.
The audience just can't get enough of Abhay. I get fan mail by the hundreds' I get mobbed' it's just been unbelievable. As a kid, I wanted to be a soccer player and had even played at the national level. When I couldn't make it, I thought that I would never be famous. Pyaar Kii Ye Ek Kahaani has changed all that.
How does one play a vampire?
(Laughs) It's very, very difficult, trust me. It's such a tough job ' I have to remain expressionless the whole time! People may think that's very easy, but let them try and be poker-faced 24x7. Indian television is predominantly about being over-the-top, but from the beginning my brief from Ekta Ma'am has been: no emotions, no expressions.
When it comes to playing such unconventional characters, there is a very thin line between credible and comical. I was very scared that Abhay Raichand would degenerate into a spoof, that people would laugh at me. Even today, I do a lot of research before every episode because I don't want the character to lose the popularity that it has got in such a short time.
What kind of research do you do?
I read up a lot on vampires. I watch a lot of American television shows like True Bloodthat deal with vampires. Then there are the two Twilight films that I have watched a couple of times. Plus, we keep having regular workshops and meetings to reinvent the character. It isn't easy to create and play a vampire.
But isn't Abhay completely modelled on Twilight's Edward Cullen played by Robert Pattinson?
Not at all. I have taken bits and parts from Edward Cullen and Bill Compton (of True Blood) and created Abhay Raichand. I have also taken a lot of ideas on how to play Abhay from the Vampire Diaries. I have never copied anyone blatantly because the audience of today is extremely smart and they will never ever give the nod to a copy. The fact that we have created something original' something that the Indian audience has rarely seen before is the reason why the show and Abhay are so popular today.
You have a huge female fan following. Any memorable encounters yet?
I don't know whether I should be telling you this because I don't want to come across as boastful, but there was this incident that happened a few weeks ago and it kind of shocked and embarrassed me. I had gone to a mall in Mumbai and while I was browsing through the racks at a store, I saw a girl of about 14-15 wildly waving at me. I am used to female fans reacting that way in public and didn't think much of it.
Within a few seconds, this girl ran up to me with tears in her eyes and she couldn't speak a word. All of a sudden, she started crying saying: 'I can't believe you are standing in front of me'. As I was trying to speak to her, her mother ran up and also burst into tears! I didn't know what to do. The mother told me that the girl was such a huge fan of mine that she had plastered all the walls of the house with my posters' her desktop had my picture' her cellphone had my pictures only' it was unbelievable. And all of a sudden, the girl fell into my arms and fainted!
A huge crowd had gathered there by then and I was so embarrassed. I just bolted from there. All this for a vampire!
Name: Vivian Dsena
Hails from: Ujjain
If not an actor: A footballer or an engineer
Most comfortable in: White shirt teamed with blue denims
Has a fetish for: Watches
What catches his eye first about a woman: Her eyes and smile
His ideal woman: Genuine and understanding, but someone who doesn't take life too seriously. A girl and a woman rolled into one