‘No villains in Bollywood today’
Talktime: Mukesh Rishi
He has been a longtime villain in Bollywood movies. Today, Rishi may not be seen often in cinema but viewers can now enjoy his acting in the TV serial Prithvi Vallabh. He talks to Shalini Saksena about the switch and his stint with Southern movies
Why did you say yes to a TV serial?
Earlier, I had done a TV show, Chittod Ki Rani Padmini Ka Johur (2009), where I played Ala-ud-din Khalji. I had a lot of fun doing the show. I have done a lot of films in every genre. As an actor, I am always looking for roles that offer variety. Since I have been busy doing films down South, I wanted to something different in Mumbai. The role in Prithvi Vallabh has several shades and gives me a chance to do much more. Also, the show is not your usual drama.
What is the difference between doing a film and a TV show?
There is no comparison between the two mediums. TV has a wider reach. The characters leave an impact as long as the show is on air. Films, on the other hand, leave an impact on the minds of the people and linger on for years. Also, it is time that TV offers viewers good content rather than the usual saas-bahu saga.
What is your role in Prithvi Vallabh?
The show is about two families. One from the heroine’s side and the other is the hero’s family — there is a father, mother and two brothers. I am a sena adyakshya. It is a period show when there were small kingdoms. My character has a great relationship with the father and the raj mata. I mentor two brothers; more like a guru to the boys. I am more like a central force for this family.
Why do we see you doing only negative roles?
Actually, the kind of films that I am doing today in the South are positive roles. Sometimes, you go with the flow and take whatever comes your way. That is what happened in Bollywood.
Did you have to struggle a lot to make a mark in Bollywood?
When I entered the industry, there were not very many people. So I didn’t really have to struggle too much. Also, my look was fresh. I had crew cut hair and a sporty look. I had done some modeling abroad. My personality was different even though I didn’t have a hero look. People had a positive attitude towards me and gave me a lot of work.
Any actor who left a lasting impression on you?
I worked with actors like Jackie Shroff and Anil Kapoor. I also worked with Dharamji. I was a newcomer who didn’t know acting and had no formal training in it. I treated every role that I was given as a learning experience. Some films that I did were big budget. I was open to doing whatever came my way and learnt along the way. Then came working with actors like Aamir Khan. Those were good times.
Has the role of a villain become redundant?
The villain has not become redundant, he has disappeared from the stories. Earlier, there was only one villain. Today, you have one hero whose role is getting bigger and bigger and at every level, there is a negative force. I was not prepared to appear for only a few screenshots just for the sake of doing a Bollywood film. I realised this and decided to change my environment and started doing regional language films where they still have the traditional villains.
Does it bother you that you are still remembered for Bulla in Gunda?
When I was offered this film, I thought I had made a huge mistake. It had Mithin Chakraborthy as the hero and by then his career was not doing well. The film was considered low budget and everyone told me that I would regret taking up this project since I was doing other films with bigger actors. But then the movie found its way into the digital space and the youth loved my role. That feels great and am happy.
Would you say then that Bulla was your most popular negative role?
No, no! Like I said, I thought it was a huge mistake. I have done a lot other negative roles where people have loved and appreciated my work more. There are movies like Sooryavansham (1999), Judwaa (1997) and Bandhan (1998).
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