What is the concept of the show ‘My Name IjjLakhan? Can you give us a background of the show?
It is about a guy, Lakhan, played by me, who is a local gunda working for a bigger don. He is completely convinced with the fact that this is the way to live his life. However, due to a sudden incident in his life, that completely changes. From there on, it’s the journey of how he starts to change as a person, along with the things he has to go through and the people he meets during the entire change over. So that journey of how he deals with things in his own manner, is extremely fascinating and that is what really appealed to me, making it the reason I agreed going ahead with the show.
Tell us something about your character and look on this show.
My character, Lakhan, is the protagonist and has got some basic fundamental differences with his father on how one should be leading his/her life. He feels that in today’s time it is about the survival of the strongest. Hence, you need to be powerful in order to survive in this world, for which you can take any route, any means, and do whatever seems correct to you at that point of time. The father, however, is a school teacher with his own set of rules and values, wanting his son to adopt the same. Thus, the creative differences between the two are the reason for the conflict.
My look in the show is not of the very typical Gunda that we have seen in films or shows. Rather, he is like today’s ‘Mumbai guy’. Lakhan, though being a goon, has a heart of gold and an up-to-date fashion sense. With this being said, his lingo is going to be a little off from the way he dresses up. What I really liked about Lakhan was his flamboyance and his swag. His character is someone who, has some part of goodness and some part of evil inside of him, and this is true about every one of us. So, at times, you would feel that whatever he is doing is the right thing to do at that point in time, though his father disagrees with these aspects of his character.
What took you so long to come to television?
Actually, if we look at it the other way, then television has taken a long time to come to me with a show like this.
Why My Name IjjLakhan?
Because of the way this show is. Had someone come to me with a show like My Name ijjLakhan, I would have made by Hindi television debut earlier. So, right now I think it’s just a change of perspective. Like, when on a road, a car is travelling from point A to point B, if you look at it from one side, you say the car is coming. Whereas, when you look at it from the other end, you would say the car is going. The same way, I would probably say that it’s a comeback of television because of the kind of competition that is right now from web platforms and films. They are, thus, coming up with various formats and this is one format that I really liked, which is of a limited series. It’s a finite series with 29 episodes and a fantastic concept, written amazingly. Also, obviously, a great character to portray on screen. I am an actor, you come to me with such characters, I would be more than happy. I have never really been bothered about the language and the medium, as long as the character is appealing.
What would you prefer? Films or Television?
I guess I’ll just go with acting. So, whoever offers me the best part, wins the race.
Have you started shooting?
We haven’t started shooting the series yet. We have just shot a promo and a photoshoot. However, I guess, we will start shooting soon in the first week of Jan.
What, according to you, is Lakhan’s way of life?
Lakhan is pretty straightforward guy. Like I said, he has got his own set of rules and is very convinced about them. First and foremost being that only the most powerful will survive. He knows he needs to be powerful as there are people who would cheat and get their way through in life.
I feel this is very relevant to the actual scenario as you are taught a basic set of rules and ethics, right from school. However, when you go out in the real world, you notice certain people doing exactly the opposite, which then creates a conflict of what is correct – what we learnt from childhood or what such people have been doing? Lakhan, unfortunately has taken the other route. He feels that being a goon and fighting, is the way of life and only then can you survive, which is not true. At the end of the day, somewhere Lakhan also feels that something is not right. And that’s where the changeover starts, without him realizing. So, I feel we need to focus more on the goodness that each one of us has, making sure that it’s the good that wins in the end.
Do you watch Sony SAB?
I do. Actually one of my favourite shows is Taarak Mehta KaOoltahChashmah. To be honest, there aren’t much shows or channels that I watch. But if you ask me about Sony SAB, then a little of Aladdin and a whole lot of Taarak Mehta is what I watch.
Have you seen Ram Lakhan? Is your look inspired by Lakhan?
Yes, you can say that. When you say Lakhan, you immediately think of Anil sir in the movie Ram Lakhan. His look in the film was with moustache like the one in our show. For me, it was a new look to try out and no better show than ‘My Name IjjLakhan’ to execute that on.
You started your career with Marathi television. So which one between Hindi and Marathi television is the better one?
I started my career with theatre, moving on to Hindi TV with smaller roles. I then moved on to Marathi Television with some bigger roles. Today, the reach and popularity that TV has is immense. So, whether it is Marathi or Hindi, the whole line between films and TV, and now web, is probably no more. Each one of these platforms is not only putting in money but a lot of efforts to make sure the get those eyeballs.
How are you managing between television and films?
I think where there is will, there is a way. I have usually seen this one thing that people have dates and time for what they want to do and for something that they don’t want to take up, they have this issue that “Sorry Yaar dates nahihain”. So, if you want to do something, you will make sure that you manage everything and do it.
You have recently embraced parenthood. How has the experience been so far?
It has been really wonderful, to say the least. A lot of my friends and relatives kept asking me to try this this life changing experience, however, I didn’t really feel ready for it. But later, finally came a time when I was ready for it. I’m loving every moment of it, although I never thought it would be this wonderful to see your child grow. There are these little things that she starts to recognize, reacts to people and every day is a new experience for me. She is actually the one teaching me a lot of things like being more calm, understanding and patient.
Now that you have done your debut on television, would we be seeing you more often on this platform?
I was always willing to do more of television. I have done Marathi daily soaps before coming into films but there came a point where I decided to quit doing daily soaps because I couldn’t take the pressure, which was immense. People think I quit TV because I got into films, however that is not that scenario. I was sitting at home for almost 3 years before I got into films, even when I had offers for daily soaps. That was a time when people had suddenly started doing just daily soaps and there was no concept of finite series. Hence, being in the same line, I had started to feel that I am not in the right profession and that is when I quit doing Television, luckily getting into films. So, I would have been happy to do a finite series earlier and going forward if people come to me with something like this, I would love to be a part of it.
Have you done any special preparation for the role of Lakhan?
I have just grown my moustache for now, nothing apart from it. Naseeruddin Shah Sir once told me a very good thing – “For a singer, his riyaaz starts when he takes out his instrument but for an actor, riyaaz begins when he opens his eyes in the morning and it goes on till the time he sleeps at night.” So every little thing that you observe, you try to include in your work and this is the same case with the character of Lakhan. The mannerisms of some taporis that I have observed in the past, is something that I will be incorporating here.
Have you done the Lakhan dance?
Not yet. But I guess we will be doing it very soon because that is the trademark step, which I don’t think we should be missing out on!