Mahadev's chosen one - Nikhil Sinha

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I am not alone when I declare that I have not missed a single episode of Mahadev and I do wish that the entire show comes out on DVD soon. I am not surprised that Mahadev is easily amongst the top shows in prime time ratings and if you don’t believe me then maybe the recent TRP ratings will convince you. It is amazing that in a day and age when social and mainstream dramas conquer each and every channel, a mythological show about Lord Shiva can keep Indian and overseas viewers riveted. Mahadev is the brainchild of Nikhil Sinha, who was also the directorial and cinematographic force behind shows like ‘Baba Aiso Var Dhoondo’, ‘Jai Shri Krishna’, ‘Prithvi Raj Chauhan’ and many more. When Tinsel Gupshup arrived on the sets of Mahadev, we were entering the world Nikhil Sinha had dreamed up. In the hustle of lights, camera, music, dance, Agni dev, Mahadev, Parvati and action…Nikhil gave us the story behind Mahadev’s story!




TG: How did Mahadev happen? In this day and age when saas bahu and crime shows are predominant, how did you decide to take on a mythological show?

NS: Mahadev is a massive project but mythological shows are not new to Indian television. I feel that this genre has done well but the makers and viewers have also attached a ‘Bhakti Bhaav’ to mythological shows. So even though people connect with the stories nobody has actually attempted to make such shows the way they are supposed to be made. This is a huge genre but it is really difficult to make a mythological, historical and costume show and that makes it untouched territory. With Mahadev, I wanted to be as real and honest as possible and when honesty forms the core of a project…it works! Social dramas are doing very well and that genre is dominating the industry because there is a lot of scope in terms of stories and screenplay and such shows are easier to make compared to costume dramas and mythological shows. During the course of my career I have always been associated with costume dramas so when I turned producer, I knew that I will go with the genre that has fascinated me and my motto was – if I am going to do it, I will do it right! I decided to make a show on Mahadev because even though we have seen shows on him, he still remains the most untouched and unexplored God. Mahadev is also a multifaceted God and that gave me huge scope in terms of the story. Most of the mythological shows are made on a very superficial level – God appears, he says something, gives an aashirwaad and goes back. With Mahadev I wanted to explore the story behind God...not just his preaching but the story about his life, love…



TG: Can you tell us a bit about what really went into starting a project like Mahadev?

NS: When you start a new show, the first three months are the most hectic and crucial. I had to set my actors, characters, directors, crew, location, etc and all this was done in the first couple of months. Initially, I was directing the show so I was present at each and every shoot then gradually the directors who were with me from the beginning took over and I took a backseat and oversaw the whole thing. So, once the show is set, my directors’ shoot and I watch over all the aspects. The initial three months are extremely important especially for a show like Mahadev because I had to get my characters right. I had to get a normal guy who wears T-shirts and jeans into the character of Lord Shiva and that is not an easy task. We did our research, looked into many religious texts and then I had to work on my actors – get their body movements right, the walk had to be right, expressions, pronunciations, dialogues etc. Of course my actors are intelligent and they put in just as much research and effort and by the time the shoot started, they were able to slip into character and get things right. Once everything is set, the show is good to go!



TG: Whenever you delve into politics, spirituality or religion…there is a fear of ruffling some feathers. Were you ever concerned about that? I am sure a lot of people write to you saying no this is not how it is written; this is not what happened…etc

NS: To be honest, nobody can vouch for what really happened because no one was there when these things happened. We do a great deal of research and we follow some guidelines. I don’t tamper with what has been written and we don’t tweak the story just to get numbers. We have always tried to be honest and genuine with whatever we find in our research. There will always be a majority and minority view, for example some people say that Ganesha came first and some say that Kathikeyan came first. So along with our research, we go with the majority view. As long as we are not tweaking and twisting the story, we are very confident and don’t have any apprehensions about the storyline of the show.




TG: The show is about the emotional side of Shiva…We have seen so many facets of Shiva but the love side of his life has never been explored. Was that your idea?

NS: Exactly! Normally what happens in a mythological is that you show everything but you don’t explain anything. That has been my observation but again that cannot be blamed on the way the show is made, in fact that is how a mythological is written as well. We read a lot of religious books and texts but there was no order or chronology – the lord came, he did this, he did that but there is no explanation on why he took those actions. Apart from that there are a lot of contradictions – so one book says something and another book will say something completely different. There are no connections and that was our task…to find the reasons and connect the dots. When you start finding those connections, it helps build the character as well. Mahadev has been a complete explorative journey for us and I feel this is the first time someone has tried to get to the root, understand and then show why Lord Shiva did what he did. The story behind his love is a prominent aspect of his life…a lot of things happened because of his love and emotions. The fact that he is called ‘Bholenath’, his Rudra avatar…there are reasons behind all these stories which in turn led to other events. So we chose to focus on the emotional side of Lord Shiva and that is how the narrative for this show is written



TG: A lot of viewers were expecting Mouni to come back as Parvati…were there any creative reasons why that did not happen? People have the image of Sati in their minds and the chemistry was beautiful so were there any reasons for bringing Sonarika as Parvati?

NS: I believe that my conviction to bring a new face as Parvati has worked very well. You have to understand that Sati and Parvati could not have been the same face! If Parvati came back as Sati then why would Mahadev resist…right? He was devastated after Sati’s death, he was completely lost. So now he has been in tapasya for ages, opens his eyes, sees the face of the woman he had loved and lost, then obviously he will embrace her and move forward but that is not what happened.  So Sati and Parvati had to be two different faces. I realized that the Sati-Mahadev pairing was set, their chemistry was set and appreciated and many people told me that bringing a new face as Parvati might affect the numbers but I wanted to be as honest and real as possible so I said - ok all that does not matter. My conviction said that Sonarika would be perfect as Parvati and I believe it has worked out beautifully. If we had taken a ‘Godly’ approach and attitude to the show and shown that Lord Shiva knows everything and is prepared for the worst then why would he have gone crazy when Sati died? I believe that lord Shiva has a very human side to him and when you think about it, he is the only God who has this kind of a love story, and he lives on Kailash so he lives on Earth. So I just want to reiterate that with Mahadev we have tried to be as real as possible.



TG: You have been a director and a producer, which is more challenging?

NS: A producer’s job is extremely difficult. Direction is just one aspect and as a director, you know your job and you just focus on those particular aspects that fall under the ‘direction’ realm. Production involves so many aspects; in fact direction too falls under that umbrella. As a producer I have to look into so many things – story, direction, camera, arrangements, casting, editing, creative, sets and so much more. On top of that I have to supervise the whole thing and ensure that the whole thing falls into place. So as a producer, I have to look after 20 things at the same time whereas as a director I had to focus on just one thing. Once the shoot is over, as a director you are free but as a producer you are not…so production can be very taxing.




TG: What is your favourite aspect about the show?

NS: Mohit Raina! He is the most dedicated guy I have worked with. See, when you see a person in T-shirt and Jeans, it is very difficult to imagine him in a costume and get-up. When I saw Mohit, I could just picture him as Lord Shiva and I said to everyone around me – I have found my Lord Shiva! Mohit truly is a discovery, he is so hard-working, dedicated and he has just put everything in his life on the backburner for this show! You can’t even imagine what it takes to get into that ‘Lord Shiva’ mode; it is not a joke to be portraying God on television. Mohit has completely changed his lifestyle and I have to give him credit for bringing the show up to this level. Ultimately, he is the face of the show, that in itself is a huge responsibility and he takes it very seriously. I have been in this industry for 15 years and Mohit is my absolute favorite actor and person. Believe me, I am not saying all this because he is my lead…seriously, I have not seen such hard work and dedication!



TG: This is your own show, your baby but you have been a director before. When do you divorce yourself from the project and leave it in the capable hands of your director or do you step in and give your inputs where the direction is concerned?

NS: You have to. Basically you have to get the show to a particular level after which you can leave it on autopilot mode. Initially, I was producing and directing so I was doing two things. After finishing, I would go on my edits and then I would sit and focus on the CGI and Graphics because that is a huge part of this show. I had conceptualized the show, I had a vision for it so I would be at the shoot from 9-11, head to the edit and get that right, focus on CGI and get that right, head home and get 2 hours of sleep, head back to the shoot and start the whole thing over again! That was my schedule and routine for 2 months and then I was taking care of all the production stuff (channel meetings etc). The thing is that since Mahadev is my show, my concept and vision, it would have been very stupid of me to expect someone else to take care of it! So it only made sense for me to pave the way, show the team my vision and then after 2-3 months hand it over in their capable hands. The first couple of months were extremely taxing but when you make a show like Mahadev for a television channel then you have to go through this.


TG: What is your favourite scene so far?

NS: Now, that is a tough question to answer. Actually, every time we do a scene, I feel overwhelmed because each time we are trying to create a new benchmark. That is the beauty of Mahadev – we are not afraid to try new things. I think the whole Veerbhadra sequence was very nice. Sati’s sacrifice leading to Mahadev’s anger and Veerbhadra…that was an extremely emotional part of the show. Even though Sati had sacrificed herself, Mahadev saw it as murder…that is what he thought, that his wife had been murdered! When Mahadev invoked Veerbhadra using a strand of his hair, he said, “Go and kill the person who has murdered my wife.” I wrote that dialogue and it is one of my favorite dialogues! So that whole chapter was very emotional and it was the climax of the Shiva-Sati love story…the girl ends her life because her father insults her husband. Veerbhadra’s action sequence, the destruction, Mahadev’s anger, Vishnuji reminding Mahadev of his responsibilities and duties, Mahadev losing his sanity and mourning the loss of Sati…that was a beautiful chapter…definitely my favorite.



TG: The costumes in the show are so beautiful; do you have an input in that area? Since this is a mythological do you have to stick to “real” in terms of getup and costume?

NS: Oh yes, as a director and producer I have to get involved in everything. All the props, costumes etc have to fit within the storyline and the scheme of the show and story. We have a very talented team taking care of all the creative aspects. Neerusha (the costume designer) is an old friend and she designs the costumes for the show, my wife Sohanna has a major input in that area as well and I have to mention my creative – Angira Vats and her valuable input as well. So they do all their research work and then I see the final product and put in my two bits.


TG: It must have been a gargantuan task to cast Mahadev. This person would become the face of Lord Shiva for generations to come. How did you go about finding Lord Shiva?

NS:  Hmmm…this question will require some explaining! Right, so how does the process of casting work? When you read and think about a character, you have to give it a point of reference. So, I had to create a point of reference in mind for Lord Shiva…this is something I could use to explain to my team just what I was looking for in my lord Shiva…something my team could connect with. So, my reference point was the young Arjun Rampal! If I was making a film on Lord Shiva, the young Arjun Rampal would have been my choice to portray Mahadev because he has that personality; he has a long chiseled face, very long nose and soft eyes. He is a very good looking guy and now that I have mentioned it, I bet you can imagine him in Mahadev’s get-up as well…he has the perfect combination of a soft and hard face! To delve into this a bit further, I was looking for someone with Arjun’s broad forehead!! If you imagine him with his hair gelled or pulled back, what kind of a forehead does he have? Very broad…right? Lord Shiva has a broad forehead, chiseled cheekbones and jaw line and that was what I was looking for. Now, when you see Mohit in this context…especially now that I have mentioned all this, you will be able to see the resemblance between the two. Mohit does have a better nose, he has that sharp hooked nose and prominent Kashmiri features and Lord Shiva must have been ‘Pahari’ because he lived in Kailash. So that is the attention to detail I had to delve into for my lord Shiva!


Now Mohit auditioned and was shortlisted for some other character in this show. At that point, I had a vision of what my Shiva should look like but I was having no luck finding him. So, I told my guys to give me the photographs and details of everyone we had auditioned till that point. I was going through my bin and suddenly I saw Mohit in another character’s costume and I told my team to call him in so I could meet him personally. Now, if you see Mohit in his regular clothes, he looks very different, so everyone around me kept saying that he will not fit in and Mahadev’s look will not suit him. I was determined to see Mohit in the get-up and I knew it will suit him and then when he finally tried the look…he was perfect! I knew he was my Lord Shiva! Once the look is sorted, half the battle has been won.




TG: You are the producer of one of the top shows on Indian television what will be your next project? What next for Nikhil Sinha?

NS:  (Laughs) I don’t know. It is going to be very challenging for me because after making a show like Mahadev…what else can I make? I have raised the bar for myself and at this point it is very difficult to envision what I will do next. I do have a few ideas, few things in my mind but let’s see. The thing is that now people have very high expectations from me and I have very high expectations from myself so I have to make something better than this. I don’t consider myself a perfectionist but I really enjoy what I do and at the end of the day my work should make me happy. If I am happy with my work, the results will show. The idea is that Mahadev will continue till the time we can make it gracefully. We will not disgrace the show or the story at any point. The moment we feel that there is nothing left in the story and ‘abh kheench rahein hai’, no matter what the ratings are, we will shut the show down.




TG: Has the show changed you in any way?

NS: I was always a spiritual guy and I have a deep connection with God. I talk to him, ask him for what I want and I have a very one on one relationship with God. Whatever I do...I express gratitude. I think that when you take on a project your thought process moves in that direction. So if you make a mythological show, you start exploring and reading more on the subject. Similarly if you make crime shows, you start looking into that area. We have done so much research for Mahadev, read so many beautiful texts, discovered secrets and stories…so obviously the spirituality just takes over. You feel more connected with God.



TG: When you get time, what do you do?

NS:  I do get time for myself and my family…I create that balance. So whenever I get time off, I spend it with my wife and daughter and I watch a lot of movies. I do like to travel but don’t get time for long holidays but we still try and take short trips.



TG: Have you received any criticism on the show?

NS: No, everyone I speak to is happy with the show. I have never received any criticism. I don’t think anything is wrong with the show and most people who watch it feel proud about it. So, ‘abhi tak aisa mauka aaya nahi.’



TG: Best compliment about the show

NS: Let me think, because there have been so many compliments. I feel so proud that I am associated with this show. Ok I am the maker of this show yet I am just a part of it. I feel that just being associated with Mahadev is my biggest achievement. Everyone who is connected with the show considers themselves lucky. I think that the best compliment is that Mahadev has surpassed religious and class boundaries because everyone watches the show. I remember when I started the show; someone asked me what will be the benchmark or achievement for this show. On Indian television, we have mainstream shows and Costume dramas (Period, fantasy, historical, mythological) and I have always been a fan of costume dramas. So I thought about the question and I figured that if I can create a show where I can remove the distinction of Period or Mainstream then that will be an achievement or benchmark for me. With Mahadev, we are moving along those lines and our ratings show that we are reaching a point where this show is no longer just a mythological…it is a mainstream show on television. 


Photo credit: Nikhil Sinha


© Tinsel Gupshup

anuja ganpatye
Jun 04, 2013
lord shiv charactor moht raina and all lead charactor is very perfect rol on devo ke dev mahadev serial. this great serial is lord shiva in first time in india. i want to meet a this serial director,

Andrew Dusteche
Mar 22, 2013
Well sir DKDM just rocks. In my classroom the whole day we just talk about DKDM only and nothing else. You guys have totally taken control of ourselves.

Kumud Chauhan
Mar 06, 2013
I was in tears when I saw the first episode. Every time I see the show I get the goose bums. I can't believe how MAHADEV looks so real. Even the music makes me cry. I feel like my soul is floating in

tulasi ramesh
Feb 08, 2013
Hats-off to you Nikhil! thanks for giving us this show.

Dec 16, 2012
Thanks for this great serial, I watch this serial every day, never miss even a sigle episode. A perfect narrativ related to Hinduism.

Nov 15, 2012
I have really enjoyed the series, i hope there will be more to see in the future. Cant wait for more!

Nov 10, 2012
There was one more son of Mahadev named Andhakasur who was blind by birth and born from sweat of Parvatiji.He has still not been Portrayed in this Serial.

Oct 19, 2012
mr nikhil u have made me meet my on god , now i can not just dream about mahadev but i can meet him at my home daily a big thanks to u to make me meet my mom n daddy

Divya VS
Oct 18, 2012
This is the best interview I have ever read till date.. and DKDM is one show, that doesn't disappoint me at all.. Thnx to Nikhil Sinha and yes, Mohit too, for giving us DKDM... good wishes, Divya.

Nikhila Chandran S S
Oct 16, 2012
This is 1 of the PERFECT itvs i hv read on DKDM...thnx TG 4 this...n Nikhil sir cant thank u enuf for d show n for choosin Mohit as Shiv..The LONG LOST "spiritual" side in me ws kinda BACK coz of DKDM

Oct 16, 2012
Thanks TG. It was really treat for all DKDM fans. Only you can give us such a detailed interview with all the questions we fans always wanted to know. I loved the conviction with which the show is made. Hats off to Nikhil Sinha to think beyond the frame and making a mythological show a huge success. I remember, when TG had published first interview of Mohit Raina, I was not watching the show. But then suddenly I had this urge to see it one day. The first episode itself consumed me like anything. I could see Shiva standing right in front of me. I had tears in my eyes. That was the impact of the characters which Mr.Sinha createdI watched all the episodes uptill now that too in 1 month. The graphics,costumes,direction,screenplay and dialogues just speaks volume about the hardwork the DKDM has put in. I particularly loved how Mr.Sinha said that he will not stretch the show unnecessarily. We need more directors and producers like this who have a vision. Also, I am a huge fan of the Mohit Raina now. No one could have enacted Shiva so well as he does. So Thanks Mr.Sinha for this wonderful show DKDM !!!

Oct 16, 2012
the best show.. perfect combination of actors, music, dialogues, effects... just don't have enough words to say how much i love this show..!! i am a lord shiva fan and this show is a visual treat!!

Oct 15, 2012
Hai..Tinselgroup..WOW what an elaborate & super duper interview..Yaar..WOW..Beautful thoughtful questions..Specially the best scene question & MAINLY the Sati aka Mouni not being the face of Parvati..

Shiva Devotee
Oct 15, 2012
Thank u TG and kudos to u Mr. Sinha!!! Your spirituality, deep connection to God and sincerity can be clearly seen in your product and will be cherished by generations to come!!!

Oct 15, 2012
Thanx a lot TG for letting us know what happened behind the screens of DKDM..its good to know how it all had started n going.wonderful article congrats to Nikhil n his team n all the best :)

Oct 15, 2012
The casting of all the characters in this show is perfect..and Mohit does fit in so well!!

Oct 15, 2012
Super like! Thanks Nikhil ji for making DKDM - The best show ever for us & for this lvoely interview. Everything with the show is just perfect, specially Mahadev! Thanks TG,it was a pleasure reading

Sudeshna Banerjee
Oct 15, 2012
It's a beautiful interview.DKDM is a remarkable creation by Nikhil sinha.Waiting for such an interview. Love & respect for NS. Thanks TG.

Oct 15, 2012
Excellent read. Nikil Sinha has bought Shiva to life and I cannnot thank him enough. Mohit is the life of DKDM and he is also my fav actor. The whole team of DKDM deserves a huge thumps up from me.

Oct 15, 2012
Thanks a lot TG. Nikhil is commendable in his thought process and we simply love his way of finding his/our Shivji, MR. All the very best Nikhil sir and we expect a lot from you and your team.

Suman Gurudutt
Oct 14, 2012
Thanks a lot Tinsel Gupshup...Great selection of questions truly! Was truly overwhelmed after reading this one! Indeed Devon Ke Dev...has stolen our hearts! Thanks again!

Tulika Dubey
Oct 14, 2012
Awesome interrview. I have renewed respect for Nikhil Sinha :) And he knows his casting damn well!

Aparna T. Spinthakis
Oct 14, 2012
Another superb interview of the man behind DKDM. What I like most is his praisal of Mohit Raina's dedication.Congrats n Bravo Tinsel for bringing this feature of Nikhil Sinha, who brought DKDM to us.

Aparna T. Spinthakis
Oct 14, 2012
"If Parvati came back as Sati then why would Mahadev resist?right? He was devastated after Sati?s death, he was completely lost. So now he has been in tapasya for ages, opens his eyes, sees the face of the woman he had loved and lost, then obviously he will embrace her and move forward but that is not what happened. So Sati and Parvati had to be two different faces. "..well said n totally agree on this.

Gouthami karanth
Oct 14, 2012
no dout that dis person required an interview like dis! ty Tensil! fr dis bff range of questions n mindblowingly outthrown answering! vry nice :)

Oct 14, 2012
Very nice artilce TG...Nikhil Ji seems like a very sorted out and a level headed guy,which comes forward in DKDM clearly kudos to him and thanks TG for the detailed interview :)

Oct 14, 2012
I loved the interview. This is excellent show, the producer has done great job in every way possible. Its an excellent show.

tavishi katoch
Oct 14, 2012
the interview was amazing as usual.Loved every bit.

Oct 14, 2012
Superb work TG. Thanks a lot for such a wonderful interview. God bless.

Oct 14, 2012
Truly well deserved interview and kudos to him and the entire team to bring the unexplored and exciting aspect of lrd shiva and we acknowledge his praise of Mohit Raina as the face and pillar of Dkdm

Aparna T. Spinthakis
Oct 14, 2012
Hi Nikhil,I felt Veerbradha was presented much better than mahakali as in terms of special effects n editings.Both Mohit n Sonarika has done fav job but the editing of mahakali epi wasn't that gr8.

Oct 14, 2012
Cannot thank Nikhil Sinha enough for casting Sonarika as Parvati. She is perfect for the role. She is beautiful and talented. Everyone in my family loves her to the core. This is the best show on tv a

Oct 14, 2012
I have admired Nikhilji (The Mastermind behind DKDM) for making DKDM. It was a pleasure reading his Interveiw. And thank you so much TG for always surprising us with wonderful features :)

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