The New Age Hero - Nakuul Mehta

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What does it take to be television’s heartthrob? Good looks, of course, but Nakuul Mehta has much more: old fashioned ambition, luck, talent, the determination to make it happen and those soulful Green eyes! Over the years, Nakuul has honed his talents and shown tremendous versatility through his work in theatre, commercials, a movie and he is now the lead of a successful television show on STAR Plus. Thanks to his youth-friendly urban image, he has evolved beautifully into an independent actor and that, is all his own creation. ‘Aditya’ from ‘Pyaar Ka Dard’ has become a household name and viewers find it easy to connect with ‘Adi’ because of the sincerity and realism that Nakuul brings to the character. In an era where male protagonists are either overtly macho or shy and reticent, Nakuul brings the right balance of strength and vulnerability on screen…making him the new age hero. He may have found his stairway to stardom after delivering some impressive performances but Nakuul is grounded enough to admit that he has faced his fair share of struggles along the way. To some actors, it might be all about the fame and the money but Nakuul takes his work very seriously. “I feel responsible towards my viewers and I would like to become a good role model for the youth who follow my work”, he states matter-of-factly. Tinsel Gupshup takes a real look at this self made man and comes away charmed by his honesty and openness about his work and his life…



TG: PKD is going very well and you must have an extremely hectic schedule. In the midst of daily serial work, you just acted in a play…why did you take on a play at this point of your career?

NM: Interesting question! So, yes…we do have a very hectic schedule and that stands true for most television actors. I have just started getting used to working for 12 to 14 hours every day so, it does not feel weird now because my body is kind of used to that schedule. Theatre is the space where I started out my career. During my college days I used to do a lot of theatre and then graduated to ads and commercials. I feel that at this stage of my career, when I am just starting out…it is very easy to become complacent. I mean when you have a show that is doing well or for that matter it may not be doing so well, you just tend to accept and fall into a comfort zone. As a creative individual, I feel that I can always do something more…spread my wings and take in much more. I love playing Aditya but at the same time when I read the script of this play I just had to take it up. This is a British play called ‘Cock’ and it only has three actors…no sets, no props…absolutely nothing! The whole play centers around these two men and one woman having a go at each other and the play itself has travelled all over the world and has become very popular. So despite the hectic shooting schedule I made the time for the play. Basically, you shoot for 12- to 14 hours and then you sleep for 5 hours and I figured that if I don’t sleep for a month and a half, it won’t be such a big deal…as long as I got the opportunity to be a part of this play! So when you want something really bad…you make the time for it! We performed in Bangalore and the response was just fabulous. Acting on stage is a completely different experience because you get the chance to see a live audience react to your performance, right then and there. I am really glad I was a part of this play.



TG: You started out with theatre and you have done some ads and a movie…would you still consider yourself as a newcomer, as in when you say that you are just starting out.

NM: Yes, I do consider myself as a newcomer on television because this is my first show. So in a way I am just making my debut in the television space! Also, I feel that perspective comes into play here. I would like to always consider myself as a newcomer because that will make me work harder and keep me hungry for more.




TG: What made you warm up to Pyaar Ka Dard Hai (PKD)? I know that you have known the production house for a while but what did you like about the story and the character that made you take the show up? You are nothing like Aditya in real life…right?

NM: I am quite different from Aditya. There are some similarities but more or less, we are very different. With regards to taking the show up, two things were the deciding factors for me. Firstly, I have had a long association with Rajshri Productions. They have been very supportive of me since my modeling days and had called me up after seeing me in a commercial. I suppose they felt that I was a new kid on the block who had some potential and we have kept in touch since then. I always knew that Rajshri would call upon me when they had a project that I could do complete justice to. We were in contact for all those years and they took a genuine interest in how I was doing and the projects I was working on etc. Finally, they approached me with a story for a television show on STAR Plus. I did not have to think twice because I knew that Rajshri would only come to me if they believed that I could do complete justice to the character. I guess what really got me hooked on to the show was the fact that my character was nothing like the quintessential television hero. Aditya is not a macho or overtly heroic guy. He is a regular guy who makes mistakes, is stubborn at times and does not believe in relationships. At the same time he has the potential to change and melt. He has a temper but does not shy away from saying sorry and he is emotional and can cry! So a lot of guys can identify with Aditya and I don’t see that on any other show. I just loved all these things about Aditya and I found his character to be very endearing. So the production house and the role were the two main reasons I wanted to do PKD.




TG: Even though you are an experienced actor – Ads, movie and theatre…what was working in Television like? Tell us about your first day at the shoot…do you remember your first scene?

NM: Ummm…my first scene was just about a year back. We had started shooting and the schedule was set in Manali. My first scene was the one where I was talking to Pankhuri on the phone. We had to do the phone cuts ourselves so the person on the other end of the line for me was my assistant director who was reading out my cues. I was actually very excited because it was my first ever shot on television and I was very curious to see how different it would be from acting in a film. The weather was just was really cold in Manali at the time. I remember I was quite anxious but I managed to nail that first scene and everyone around me was impressed at how confident I appeared. I have to give full credit to the production house for making me feel so confident and comfortable. Rajshri just function in a way that you don’t feel like a professional actor who has been hired to do a job. So there is no pressure to prove yourself and no one is standing there judging you. They had complete faith in me as an actor and that made my job so much easier. I have very fond memories of those first few days because it was a fun experience.





TG: Apart from Aditya and Pankhuri, who are your favourite characters in the show?

NM: I think Pankhuri is a fantastic character and Disha plays her really well. A lot of people come up to me and say that they love my mom – Avantika’s character. Again, Manasi Salvi portrays Avantika so beautifully and the character is really well laid out. I also love my dad on the show! I think Nitesh has a great sense of comedy and all our father son moments on the show feel genuine because we have that kind of rapport in real life as well. We are always having a go at each other so the friendship just comes out very naturally and that is very important. I absolutely love my nanu (Mukesh Khanna) and he just adds so much star power to the show. There are days when Mukesh ji is not on the set and I feel like something is actually missing because he just brings so much energy to the whole show! So there quite a few well etched out characters and some fantastic actors on the show.




TG: I read that you are a ballroom dancing champion? How did you get interested in Ballroom?

NM: (Laughs) Oh my God, where did you pick that up from?? There is an interesting story behind the Ballroom thing. Smiley Suri is a close friend of mine and she just happens to be a fantastic dancer. She was taking part in a Ballroom show and her partner went missing so she asked me if I would like to step in. I had never ever done Ballroom before but Sandeep Soparkar trained us in 10 days. He told me that I was made for dancing and I was like…really?? So I started taking dance seriously and I took these classes for 6 months. The next thing I know is that Sandeep tells me to take part in a national championship to represent Maharashtra and I really thought he was joking! So I went ahead but it was not any sort of a serious career move or something. I enjoyed dancing but at the same time I worked extremely hard with my partner and we ended up winning the championship!! I still think it must have been some sort of a fluke! Unfortunately I don’t get any time to practice because my life right now is pretty much squeezed between my show and the play. I do miss dancing and Disha and I look for every opportunity to get on a show and dance. 




TG: Your wife is an accomplished singer and you are a champion dancer. Have you ever thought about participating in reality dance shows?

NM: Well, you never know. I mean we were offered something this year but I was working on my play so we just could not take it up. I think it will be fun to do a show with my wife plus I’ll get to spend some time with her. Both of us have crazy schedules and we just don’t get to spend quality time together so a show will give us the means to meet outside the house! My wife is my strongest critic. I don’t watch each and every episode of PKD but she does and she points out things that she likes and hates. I might disagree with her to her face but I do take her feedback very seriously and most of the times her input makes a lot of sense. Also, whenever I have gone for auditions, I read the script to her so she is my cue person. She plays a very important role with regards to my work and I do take her criticism very seriously. It definitely helps that she is also a creative person and she understands my work and the industry. I am also involved in her music and all her music videos. In fact we are working on another video together and I might direct it. We do discuss everything and add to each other’s work.




TG: A lot of television actors are making it big in movies. Actually, if you look at it, TV actors are the new bollywood stars and at the same time, bollywood bigwigs are making their debuts in TV. What are your thoughts on this trend?

NM: Essentially, we are all actors so I think this is a fabulous trend! The medium may change so if you look at the West, actors like Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt and Will Smith have gone from television shows to hundred million dollar movies. I consider tags like ‘TV actor’ or ‘Movie actor’ completely redundant because the medium should not define you as an actor. I feel that there should only be two tags – good actor or bad actor. Ideally, I would like to work towards becoming a good actor (if I am not one already) and I would like the script or the story to decide which medium I would like to work in. Right now, for me, PKD is even more exciting than the movie offers I keep getting. It actually excites me to go to work every day and I don’t see working in television as a step up or step down because I am doing something that I absolutely love. I felt the same excitement when I got offered the play. The great thing is that our industry is very open-minded and to be honest I won’t be surprised when few years down the line, television actors would say no to film projects because they will be so happy with the work they are doing. I will definitely be in the forefront when that happens.




TG: You worked in Haal-e-dil and even though the reviews were good, the movie did not do too well at the box office. Now, you are a lead of a successful show on TV, if you got another movie offer while PKD was going on…at the risk of leaving Aditya behind, would you consider it?

NM: Honestly speaking, as of now I am extremely happy with the work I am doing. Also, I have realized that Nakuul and Aditya have certain responsibilities towards the production house and the viewers. As an actor, I am extremely grateful to Rajshri for entrusting me with such a fantastic role and I take my work very seriously. Similarly the viewers have given me so much love so I just cannot disappoint all the people who have put their faith in me. So personally, I don’t think I will leave Aditya behind or pick another project over PKD.



TG: This is a hypothetical question. If you could write the script for the show for one day…what would be your dream episode? How would your dream episode unfold?

NM: (Laughs) we do have fantastic writers so I would never take that task up! Also, we have such great tuning because we are not just a bunch of actors who come to work and blurt out random lines. There have been times when I have written my own lines or fine tuned a scene and kept my director and writers in the loop. I understand my character so well so I have worked on some of the major scenes that involve Aditya and Pankhuri. Sometimes I have just penned down lines in the middle of the night because I understand what will work best for Aditya and my writers have been happy to incorporate my lines. I feel that they way the love story is shaping up right now is just so real. Our love story is very natural unlike other shows where the love is either too intense or the couple just hate each other. I love the fact that PKD has such a relatable love story and I would not want to tamper with it at all.




TG: What do you love about Aditya and what do you dislike about him? How do you see Aditya’s character evolving in the future?

NM: I think sometimes he is way too stubborn for his own good. Pankhuri is very balanced and she sees a situation from all the different angles. Aditya is very impulsive and personally I see that as a bit of a weakness. On the other hand, Aditya is also very impulsive with the way he shows his love and that is endearing. So I am not a big fan of the stubbornness and impulsiveness. I think, what is beautiful is that it started out as a character that was not very ambitious and he was just content with the life he had. Also, Aditya was not very optimistic about relationships because of the issues he had seen in his family. However, Pankhuri came into his life and now you can see the positive changes in Aditya. She has been able to instill that balance in him and drive him to be a better person on so many different levels. I would love to see Aditya evolve to become someone who anchors the family, take control and become more mature. I don’t want him to lose his impulsiveness completely because that makes him very endearing but just to take on some of Pankhuri’s characteristics.



TG: You have done many ads….which one was your favourite?

NM: Ummmm…which has been my favourite ad? Well, there was this commercial that I did when I had just started modeling. I must have been around 17 and I was in the Thumbs-Up commercial with Salman Khan. That was a huge deal because I had just started and I was a huge Salman Khan fan! So, I walk into the set and it was just Salman and me. I go up to him and say, ‘Hi, I am Nakuul’ and I did not expect anything but a hello back from him. Instead, he just smiled and said, ‘Hi, I am Salman’ and I was just looking at him thinking ‘dude…I know your name!’ It was just so cool! That commercial became very popular and it led me to a lot more work.





TG: You come from a very interesting background. What is the best advice your parents have given you regarding your work and the industry…as in from an outsider’s perspective?

NM: Wow! Hmmmm…I can’t think of any words that have stuck with me but it has been the way that they have brought me up. I suppose I have taken a lot from the words that they have NOT said and the emphasis here is on the fact that my parents have always wanted me to make my own decisions and stand by them. So when I wanted to become an actor nothing was said about being a good actor or a bad actor rather, they just let me be and let me fly. I am sure it was not easy for them considering the fact that my father is from the armed forces so the conventional expectation was for their son to join the Army or the Navy. My parents just let me float and find my own way. So basically it’s not about the things they have said to me rather by allowing me to be…they have not pushed me into something that I did not want to do. My parents have always encouraged me and they are extremely proud of my work and that has motivated me to be the best in whatever I do!





TG: I have noticed that you are active on twitter and you keep in touch with your fans. Do you get a lot of input from your fans? What motivates you to stay connected despite such a busy schedule?

NM: Personally I feel that I am an actor because the viewers appreciate my work. I love interacting with people, meeting them and hearing their thoughts. I have been on Twitter for 4 years so I was active even before the show came on television. I genuinely enjoy interacting with my fans and you have to understand that most of the times you end up working on an island where you go for the shoot, come back home and only hear good things about yourself. Most of the times you are made to believe that you are exceptionally good! I feel that Twitter is such a great reality check where people write back and tell you what they liked or even what they hated. If I get some criticism or negative feedback about my character or the show, I take it very seriously and mark it to my creative director. Some people do say a lot of callous things, like for example, the colour of my Pajamas etc but sometimes they point out loopholes or logical issues and that is excellent feedback for me. Also, I like to know about my favorite stars like Shahrukh Khan etc so Twitter gives us all an opportunity to connect with our idols.


Photo credit: Nakuul Mehta


©Tinsel Gupshup

May 14, 2013
oh!anjalika u r an expert in askin questions.interviews r a treat.others always ask stupid silly questions to TV luks like dey are sooo interested to answer ur wise qustns..keep it up.naku

May 14, 2013
nice interview. I have not watched this show but still i read this interview...looks like nakuul is a dedicated person..amazed at how he has squeezed time for plays as well !!

May 13, 2013
Great interview! Nakuul is a very intelligent, genuine & down to earth guy and a brilliant actor! More interviews with him please!

May 12, 2013
Excellent piece of write up. Interesting on issue of TV actors to refuse Bollywood movie. Nakul is very interesting actor and very honest and humble. I wish him all the best for his bright future.

May 12, 2013
This was a fantastic interview. Fabulous compilation, and such genuine responses. Nakuul unknowingly creates a bond with each of his fans, and this only made it stronger. Immensely enjoyed it. Thanks!

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