We've seen him in the steamy hot monsoon song, Mohabbat Barsa Dena Tu, with Surveen Chawla and opposite Sunny Leone in Ek Paheli Leela quite recently. After venturing into quite a few Bollywood films and modelling assignments, the actor will now make his debut on television with Aarambh. The actor plays the role of Varundev in this upcoming period drama, written by KV Vijayendra Prasad who also penned Baahubali. The promos of the show are out and they look every bit promising. Rajniesh will be seen opposite popular South actress, Karthika Nair. In fact, the two onscreen arch rivals will even have a few romantic sequences in the show eventually.
Rajniesh got up close and personal with BollywoodLife about his upcoming show, his equation with the co-stars and his no-kissing clause. Even though he himself prefers watching an Iron Fist or a House Of Cards on his free time, he accepts that Indian fiction shows are a rage and even some of family members are hooked to quite a lot of Indian television shows. With so many period dramas like ChandraNandini, Chandrakantha, Peshwa Bajirao, etc. the actor is not really that nervous about his show and is confident that it will strike a chord with the audience. (ALSO READ: Rajniesh Duggall’s FIRST LOOK as Varundev in Aarambh will make you fall in love with him – Watch video)
Here are excerpts from the interview.
What made you choose Aarambh?
I was in talks with the channel for a mini series while I was doing Wajah Tum Ho. During that time, they came up with Aarambh and they wanted me to listen to it to see if I like it. Then I obviously spoke to Goldie (Behl) sir when I went for the narration. I loved the idea. I was blown away and I was like 'Yeh toh karna hai'. He said that this won't be a mini series but it will be a mega series and I will have to commit for one and a half years. I took a day and I said I'm for it. I loved the characters, even my character of Varundev. It has been written really well. This has never been seen on TV before. It has limited episodes which is good. It is something which has action, romance, political drama and there is a lot of masala also in it. It's a good mix of everything.
My character, Varundev, is a righteous man. He is a warrior from the Aryan clan. He is someone who has the sixth sense and he sort of gauges what could happen next. Along with that, he is also fighting for his father's honour and dignity, which he doesn't get from the Aryan clan. We're also fighting for a land that the Aryans are also eyeing and Varundev takes the charge of doing that. From being a small soldier to the warrior is also his journey. I loved that entire part.
How much time did you spend to transform your physique for the role?
When I signed it, I straight away joined martial arts. I was still shooting for Wajah Tum Ho. Actually if you see, within Wajah Tum Ho also there is some change of my physique. It should not have been there but it was, because I was preparing for this (Aarambh) also. Then I was taking sword-fighting sessions, horse-riding, action on horses also because horses were the Aryan's main animals.
Your look as Varundev is very Jon Snow-ish. Any comments on that?
When we were working on it, from our side, we tried some 15-20 wigs. Eventually we locked something like this which looked perfectly like this. I was adamant that I need a wig which makes my face to look like a lion, since that was the Dravidian's symbol. Obviously, I have seen Game Of Thrones, I love it. I think the fur and all that adds to it.
You have added a no-kissing clause. Why this rule, specifically for television?
No no, I won't be kissing in films also from now. It has always been my rule but then, some songs like Mohabbat Barsa Dena Tu and all have done well digitally, earned a lot of money for the producers. They are titillating songs and sensational hits. But I feel that, personally for me, for my relation, it's not right. Because I do have a daughter also. I feel it's not right for my wife and my daughter. My wife is not an actress but we do have emotions and we have known each other even before I started modelling. I want the love to never get affected by any of this so I'll cut off anything that might affect it.
There are a lot of costume/ period dramas on television at the moment. Are you nervous that you will be competing with them?
This is an epic which is a fantasy/ fiction. I have seen ChandraNandini. My family likes the show and some of my friends, their family watch Naagin, too. It is interesting to see the TV audience, because for me this is new. I would put on an Iron Fist or a House Of Cards. Otherwise I can watch Khatron Ke Khiladi or Nach Baliye, something like that. That is my cup of tea. But personally, from the story point of view, it should be gripping. But besides the story, what would set this apart from the other shows is the way it is shot. It is a visual treat for the audience. Keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for good TRPs.
How's your equation with your co-stars?
I haven't shot with Tanuja (Mukherji) ma'am much. Actually I haven't shot at all with her. But otherwise it's good. With Karthika also, it's good. We've done workshops together and we're opponents onscreen. Since I'm going very methodical, I'm a different person on the set. Sometimes, I am a little aggressive. But I do get along really well with the boys. The camaraderie with the boys is winning hands down right now.
Which fictional TV show do you love the most right now?
(Thinks. A lot) I like watching Bhabhiji Gharpe Hai sometimes. I also like Ishqbaaz. Besides that, I watch reality shows.
The show is being promoted as 'By The Writer Of Baahubali'. Your thoughts on the strategy?
That's totally on the channel. That's the marketing team. It's like you're pitching it as Baahubali on the small screen but then, I think, we are completely away from Baahubali. We just have a few things similar to Baahubali. Like the writer, it's an epic fantasy/ fiction, it's very VFX heavy and the female lead's name is Devsena. We're just hoping that people love the story. I can guarantee one thing that once people start watching the show, they will love it. They will wait for the next weekend to watch the show again.
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