Mohnish Behl: I have done rape scenes throughout my career

Popularly known as Dr Ashutosh and elder brother to Salman Khan, Mohnish Behl is all set to start work on the reality show, Savdhan India on Life OK

Suave, charming, articulate and one of the most popular baddies of Hindi cinema, Mohnish Behl tells us why he quit Kuch Toh Loh Kahenge, and what he thinks about his replacement Sharad Kelkar and his relationship with the Dabangg actor.

Why did you leave Kuch Toh Log Kahenge (KTLK)?

KTLK is a wonderful show and has a phenomenal script by Kamlesh Pandey. I quit mainly because the shoot location was about two and half hour away from home, and the long hours began to take a toll on my health. Prior to the executed contract, we had very clear terms and conditions that I would be available for 13 to 15 days in a month and shoot for only 12 hours in a day. Of course, there are times when one extends the time frame to complete the episode – that’s the nature of the game. But eventually we would end of up shooting for 16 hours every day and 12-14 days became 18-20 days. I am 51 years old; I have to take it easy.

How did your fans react to your decision of quitting Kuch Toh Log Kahenge? Many of the BollywoodLife readers went crazy requesting for you to come back…

My facebook was abuzz with a lot of activity and comments. But this was in the planning stages for more than a month and half.

There were rumours that you quit because you were too uncomfortable about get intimate with Kritika Kamra (Dr Nidhi). Is there any truth in that?

There were a lot of rumours flying around at that time – like I was apparently uncomfortable getting romantic with Kritika and that I was throwing too many tantrums. But getting to the fact of the matter, what is so uncomfortable about doing an intimate scene for an actor who has done rape scenes throughout his career! And subsequent to my exit, what happened to the intimate scenes? That kind of shuts the door on that argument. I saw the show for two to three weeks after I left as it is very close to my heart. KTLK is a clean show and there was never any requirement for any intimacy.

As for the tantrum allegations, frankly, no actor could survive for thirty years in this industry if he or she throws starry tantrums. Everyone just negated our story. Sony and we put out that health was the real issue behind the change, but people just didn’t want to believe.

Your replacement Sharad Kelkar – how do you think he’s doing?

Honestly, I don’t think it will be politically correct to pass any comment on Sharad’s performance. Whatever I say will be misconstrued. Even if I say, ‘No Comments’, it can be misconstrued. I have worked with Sharad before – he is a wonderful person with a good personality. I am sure he is doing a good job, and if Sony has selected him, it gives him the right credentials.

What prompted you to take up Savdhan India?

I have been associated with Star for a very long time. When they thought I was capable of hosting such an important show I just couldn’t refuse. I say important because the show is based on true stories of injustice that have happened to people who fought back for justice; that’s an important story to be told. Being an actor, I think this is my way of being part of a greater course. So when an opportunity like that came in the realm of my capabilities, I felt pretty honoured that Star chose me.

How did the offer come to you?

People I’ve worked with before in Star called me with the offer, and I’m always available for them. Everything was discussed and sorted in two minutes. After working with the company for so many years, it’s like home ground now.

Which story in Savdhan India touched you the most?

I have shot for only one episode so far. I will be back on the sets for the next episode as and when the scripts are ready. Every story is unique and touching. As an actor you tend to put life into a fictional character to make the audience believe. But here I had to keep reminding myself that these characters are very much real and I must not associate too much with them as a host, can’t let the emotions show on my face as the sutradhar. It’s unbelievable what people have gone through, and you learn to count your blessings for not being subjected to such things.

Sony TV also has a similar show, Crime Patrol…have you seen it?

Yes, of course! The show is doing very well. Anoop (Soni) and I know each other personally. However, I’m not sure if we’ve ever worked together. He had a flat in my in-laws’ building, so we often met. He is doing a wonderful job on the show.

Did you get offers from Sony to be part of Crime Patrol?

Nothing came from Sony TV. And frankly it never crossed my mind either that I would want to do a show like this. I don’t look at my career like that. I have always kept my doors open to whatever comes my way. Once I get the offer, I assess, pick and choose. I don’t think it’s the call of an actor to decide what he wants to be a part of, unless the options come to him. It never occurred to me that I wanted to do this until Sony offered me the part.

You expressed a desire to work with Salman Khan in a Rajshri film again. Would it be possible to recreate the old chemistry?

Yes, it would be wonderful to work with Salman, but there is nothing in the pipeline as yet. Salman and I share great chemistry off screen and it does get interpreted on screen too. If we work together, I am sure it will come across. But it’s the director and the production house’s call to put the whole thing together.

Has Rajshri offered you the role so far?

No there are no talks of it now, nor do I have any information about their new project. I think it was the anticipation of the journalist who spoke to me a few days back.

Have you considered going back to doing negative roles?

It’s not like I have not thought of it, but lately only positive characters are coming my way. I would do a negative, serious or comedy role as long as it motivates me. I haven’t shut my doors to anything.

What according to you would be a challenging role at this juncture of your career?

A role is challenging only when it is badly written. And no, I am not telling you which roles have been challenging for me so far.