Playing gritty characters with complex psyche is every actor’s dream. For an actor who has played the quintessential romantic hero on screen, playing a character out of his comfort zone is not only exciting but also challenging. Therefore, it was a dilemma for Raqesh Bapat to choose, when he was offered the part of a pedophilic psycho-killer in Ullu’s latest offering Assi Nabbe Poore Sau. “I never thought I’d perform a character like this,” the 42-year-old actor confessed.
He added, “I moved back and forth because I was confused whether to do the role or not.” However, it was the director Akshay Singh and his wife Bahnishika Das – who also happens to be the writer and co-creator of the show, who convinced Bapat to take up the challenging role. “It was their conviction that made me say yes to the project.”
Raqesh who is associated with a children-based NGO, Shyamchi Aai Foundation, had to do pejorative things to kids on screen for the show. For someone who is fond of kids, this could easily rile up their mental peace. The actor admitted that during the process he had to see a psychiatrist. “Of course, I consulted a psychiatrist,” Raqesh told, “I was talking to my therapist, throughout the shoot. I couldn’t take the character back home. That process to mentally switch off from the character was really important.” he added.
For Raqesh, who has always been part of clean shows in his over a two-decade long career, this was indeed a matter of contention. “There was skepticism to be honest because the steaming platform matters. However, I got to know that they are coming up with a new strategy to create different kinds of content and storytelling. It's more about the story and the people you work with. When you see a platform that is trying to evolve and make good content, there’s no looking back. So, initially yes, I was skeptical about it, but it gradually just faded into oblivion.” he said.
2021 marks 20 years of Raqesh in the world of showbiz. Although he did start his career with modelling pageants in 1999, it was in 2001 when his first and critically acclaimed film, Tum Bin hit the theatres. Raqesh still thinks directors and storytellers don’t know what to do with him on screen. “Maybe now people offer me meatier roles as my main aim is to work with a great team”
The conversation couldn’t be complete without mentioning the highly popular TV show Qubool Hai being digitised. In the TV version, Raqesh had replaced Karan Singh Grover. However, he won’t be seen in the digital version. “I had fun playing the role. I don’t regret anything. It was their role and I, just in a dire situation, stepped into it.” However, he revealed that the makers got in touch with him for a different role in the digital show. “I had got a call from the team but for a different role. However, I realised that I was playing Zoya’s love interest, and could not play any other role as it would be weird and illogical” he concluded.
There is still love... Raqesh opens up about his ex-wife Ridhi Dogra
Raqesh is also seen to be going through a troubled marriage. However, that didn’t make the actor reminisce about his married days with his ex-wife and actor Ridhi Dogra. “Not at all honestly. Ridhi and I had a different equation. We are two matured individuals and we dealt with the separation maturely. There were no fights or rocky days in our relationships,” Raqesh mentioned.
Talking further on what went wrong between the two, he added, “It’s just that you grow out of it after a certain point. It is not about hatred for each other. It's about basic compatibility. It doesn’t make a person bad. Somethings are meant to be and somethings aren’t meant to be. I had an amazing time that I spent with her. There’s no bad blood or element between us. In fact, our bond has become stronger. There is respect and still love for each other. I think the marriage tag ruins everything.”
On being asked if he still believes in the institution of marriage, he responded, “I don’t know. I cannot say I do or I don’t. I think jinko jamta hai kare and jinko nahi…,” he shrugged. He continued, “I think it was a phase that we had to go through. After being there and being in that spot, it just makes you a better or matured person.”