Rithvik Dhanjani: I never thought it would click so well between Asha Negi and me!

He is hot, sexy and one of the most charming hunks on television. Single but not ready to mingle, Rithvik Dhanjani talks about how Balaji Telefilms and Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa have contributed to his stardom

Rithvik aka Arjun talks about his chemistry and friendship with Asha Negi, the good and bad of the television industry and his broken heart.

How has your journey been with Pavitra Rishta?

It has been nothing less than adventurous, a blessing; it’s just been awesome. I was playing a completely negative character in Pyaar Ki Ek Kahaani when this offer came to me, so it was a complete shocker. I was offered a positive character like Arjun, which came as a blessing and has been going good till date. This show has given me everything. I made my identity ‘coz of Pavitra Rishta and Balaji Telefilms. I will be eternally grateful to them.

How was it working with Balaji Telefilms?

I have only worked with them and frankly, I don’t want to step out any more. Right from my first show, Bandini, Pyaar Ki Ek Kahaani and now Pavitra Rishta, all have been with Balaji Telefilms. I have been a Balaji boy; it’s like home to me and I’m way too comfortable here. I’ve known everyone on the sets and in the production house for more than three and half years and it has been great.

How is your chemistry and equation with Asha Negi aka Purvi?

I think whatever I am; it’s mainly because of this chemistry. I never thought it would click so well between Asha and me. I believe even the audiences love it, that’s why it is so popular. Secondly, we just enjoy working together. We are really close and great friends. Our off screen chemistry is so brilliant that it automatically gets transferred onscreen. I am really glad I got Asha Negi as Purvi, ‘coz no one else would be able to do this role better than her.

What about your chemistry with your childhood friends and wife Ovi?

Ovi and Arjun are childhood friends, but he loves Purvi. As a character, Ovi is very interesting to watch, ‘coz she can do anything, any time. She is absolutely unpredictable. And Shruti Kanwar is a brilliant actor, who has grown tremendously in these past years, both as an actor and as a person. I have seen her journey and it’s mind blowing.

How similar or different are Rithvik and Arjun?

There is absolutely nothing similar between the two. Arjun is not as strong as he looks – he has this softness that Rithvik doesn’t possess. Rithvik would never let his love go, would never cry and definitely not make so many sacrifices. Probably the only similar factor between the two is that both of them love their mom very much. I love doing scenes with my mother even if it’s with a photo frame; that’s the only emotion I truly connect with.

Tell us something about Pavitra Rishta you like and what you dislike…

I like the authenticity and simplicity of Pavitra Rishta. The concept of a mechanic falling in love with a middle-class girl is simple beautiful. Moving into our love story – when Arjun, a high-end business man falls for a chawl girl, how he does things for her, becomes a mechanic, gives up his luxurious lifestyle and sacrifices everything to get her, is awesome. It may not be the most believable thing at times, but the concept is nice and that’s what I like. The story is the strongest point of PV. There is nothing in particular I dislike about the show; it’s more to do with television in general. We tend to dramatise a lot. Reactions sometimes don’t seem natural. Reality is a little bit different, but then television is like that, even though I don’t connect with it at times.

Do you think television is regressive?

I think it is regressive – actually more than regressive, it is repetitive. For the past eight to ten years we’ve seen the same stories over and over again. Take hit shows Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi or Kasauti Zindagi Ki – they had set a standard. But people have been copying that for generations – the look, the feel and sometimes even the story – but you can’t make a KSBKBT again. When a novel show like Balika Vadhu came into the market, a lot of people ran into villages to find a story. That’s not how it works. Just ‘coz one thing worked doesn’t mean it all will. I think TV should open up more to crisp and beautiful concepts and stories. Luckily we have a wonderful set of writers in the industry with a lot of talent, but it does not get explored well because of the medium. We purposely try to cage it in the ‘idiot box’; things will change if we believe that it’s a 70mm screen and people are here to watch a movie. A few years ago such stories did come with shows like Banegi Apni Baat, Rishtey, Hip Hip Hurray, Family No 1 and Just Mohabbat. I remember as a child I would wait all day to watch these weekly shows. It’s a vicious circle and TV will turn around and come back to it eventually. But when it becomes a daily soap, it becomes monotonous and that’s what we need to break out of.

What is your dream role?

My dream is to one day be in films and do something no one has ever done before. I want to do a role that will make people remember me even ages after I am gone.

Have you caught up with any of your friends’ movies?

Yes, I always watch all my friends’ movies. I have yet to see Ruslaan Mumtaaz’s I Don’t Love You.I recently saw Sushant Singh’s Kai Po Che, which is a superb film, and I want to mention Rajkumar Yadav’s brilliant acting. Basically, I do watch as many films as I can.

Besides your own show, do you have any other favourites?

I don’t follow Indian fiction on television. However, when it comes to non-fiction, I follow Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa. It’s simply superb.

How did Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa change your life?

It changed everything. It gave me an identity, which is something very difficult to achieve in television. Even today people will recognise Sushant Singh Rajput as Manav more than anything else. The character becomes so strong that people don’t distinguish their real identity. Post Jhalak, people came to know who the real Rithvik is. It gave me an identity separate from my character. What more can an actor want!

Are you dating anyone currently?

Not at the moment. It’s been really long, and I don’t want to any time soon either. Currently, I am just focusing on my work. In short, I am single, not ready to mingle.

So there’s really nothing brewing between Asha Negi and you?

No, we have been close friends. Asha is too close to me and we are very comfortable with each other. We somehow manage to connect very well with each other. We are like kids who are great friends. People have been creating stories looking at our closeness, but we are just friends. And we have no issues with people talking about it.

So any crushes?

I’ve only had one crush for a very long time now, but unfortunately she is married. She is Sania Mirza. So let’s not add salt to the wound by talking about it, please. It hurts!