Mohit Raina, who debuted with a big screen spectacle URI: The Surgical Strike (2019) has now done some prominent work on OTT. He won a lot of accolades for his recent show The Freelancer. In a freewheeling chat with The Free Press Journal, he talks about why he rejected so many roles post his television show, working with Neeraj Pandey and more.
Do you believe your physicality plays an important part in doing roles based on armed forces?
I was born and brought up in Kashmir, so, I always saw men in uniforms taking care of the people and keeping them safe. We didn’t have access to cable television so there was no Superman or Batman, who came to save me. My love for uniform started when I was 2 or 3 years old. I was driven by uniforms so much that I wanted to be in Indian Army.
Infact, back in the day, I couldn’t get through the forces because of my poor vision. I feel lucky that it helped me to live such roles on-screen as an actor. Whenever there’s an opportunity to wear uniform, I grab it. I will manifest that someone will offer me a role based on a Navy officer and I get to wear the white uniform, since that’s the only one left for me to wear.
As an actor, how challenging is it for you to portray such roles since with uniform comes the responsibility too?
The Freelancer wasn’t about too much of uniform since the guy I played wasn’t in service. He was an ex-cop, who works for money to protect his loved ones and to run his living. But yes, wearing an uniform gives a sense of pride and make you more responsible. When I first did an uniform role in 21 Sarfarosh that was based on Battle of Saragarhi held in 1867, I went to promote it to Wagah Border, someone told me that don’t think that I am just acting rather representing those Sikhs, who were martyred.
Is Neeraj Pandey a taskmaster?
I have never done more than 4-5 takes in my life but while shooting for The Freelancer, I had to give 19-20 takes. I was literally sweating and the whole crew was looking at me. So yes, he is a taskmaster but at the same time, he also gives space and lets you be as an actor. He is very what he wants from his actors. He is a genius.
Do you feel that your roles on OTT is helpful to break your larger than life image of television?
I was lucky that I never got typecast since as soon as I finished Devon Ke Dev Mahadev, I was offered so many roles that were normal. But, as an actor, it was my shortcoming that I never imagined myself in a those normal roles. It was my immaturity to reject roles like of a tailor but now with emergence of OTT, I feel fortunate enough to have got roles like I did in the past.
Do you believe that OTT is a more liberal medium and actors like you are in the most satisfying time?
There are so many stories around us and even in the heartland of our country, OTT has definitely given such stories a visual presentation. I think, it’s definitely a great time to be in the industry.
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