When Ekta Kapoor decided to kill the character ‘Mihir Virani’ (played by the actor Amar Upadhyay) in her famous soap opera ‘Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’ years back, the fans of the show went berserk. They protested and demanded to bring Mihir back to the show and Ekta did it! The incident made Amar Upadhyay a household name. That’s the power television holds in India. It’s a victory for the actors when the characters they play become memorable; that’s a testimony that the actors did a damn good job! A lot of Indian television serials have made an impact on the minds of the audience over the years and erstwhile show Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai is one such show. It has gained a cult status over time and the characters on the show are still loved. One such character is the character of Roshesh Sarabhai. In an exclusive interview with Nation Next, television actor Rajesh Kumar who played the character of Roshesh Sarabhai speaks about his career and Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai.
How exactly did you land up in acting?
I basically hail from Bihar. I came to Mumbai in 1999 to pursue mass communication from St. Xavier’s College. One of my friend was writing for a TV serial called Star Best Seller and he offered me a role. That’s how I landed up in acting. I thought acting was better than mass communication because I was getting the money instantly. The day I had my interview at St. Xavier’s, I had the shoot. There were two career options in front of me and I selected acting.
It must have been a little difficult in the industry given the fact that you didn’t belong to the television or film background…
Being a Bihari, the only thing I know about us is that we know how to take risks. Once you leave everything in your hometown and move ahead you know that you’re taking a risk. We plunge into that and we make our mark. So, I feel proud about that.
In Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai you had brilliant actors like Ratna Pathak Shah, Satish Shah, Sumit Raghavan and Roopali Ganguly but your character Roshesh Sarabhai made an impact and people still remember you for it. How do you feel?
It feels very great. It was a unique character and it took a lot of effort and hard work to play it. It was my first attempt at comedy so I was scared as I was acting besides Satishji and Ratnaji. But these experienced actors made sure that I didn’t feel out of place. It was a good learning ground for me. Sarabhai not only gave me recognition but has also taught me humility and simplicity. If an actor comes to Mumbai today to pursue his dreams, he will be feeling exactly what I was feeling back then. I make sure that I take care of him just the way I was taken care of.
What did you do to get into the skin of the character Roshesh?
Whenever I try method acting all my methods fail! The trick is to try and make the character your own. The soul of the character should be inside you. It took me two months to come up with the voice of Roshesh. But the writer and the producer Aatish Kapadia was clear in is head on how the character should be.
You’re a self-taught actor and have done variety of roles over the years. How has the journey been?
I have enjoyed playing whatever roles I have played till date whether it was my character in Kkusum or Ek Mahal ho Sapno ka. Two months before my marriage in 2004, I was left with no work. I started doing a lot of shows on Doordarshan. Post marriage as well, I was absolutely jobless for three months. I was really stressed and then Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai happened to me. Jo mila usko imaandari se kiya and maybe that’s why I’m where I’m today. It has been 12 years since Sarabhai now. I may be getting many offers for serials now where I’m getting a lot of respect and where I can play the lead but the struggle continues. Once you wrap up a serial, the struggle for another one starts. In our industry, sab ek dusre ke liye struggle bana ke rakhte hai! There’s no politics, it’s just the requirement. If you suit the requirement you’re on, if you are not, nothing will happen.
Would you say that you have now established yourself?
There’s no establishment in acting. The only thing is that people start knowing you. You have to keep on doing good work to prove time and time again that you’re in the league. I’m finding it nice. It’s a very healthy competition in Mumbai.