Friday, November 02, 2007 14:54 IST
Born in a conservative Muslim family, Anas Rashid is all set to play the last Hindu ruler of Delhi, Prithviraj Chauhan. The handsome young man from Maler Kotla, Punjab, knows that he has some very big shoes to fill,
after Rajat Tokas's very successful tenure as the young Prithvi. We speak with him about his family, his aspirations, and his dreams, amongst other things.
Q. What is your take on playing the lead in the most successful historical on television?
A. I did not expect something like this so early in life. Whenever I watched historical movies like 'Braveheart', and 'Troy', I would be very inspired, but I never thought that I would be acting as Prithviraj Chauhan. It all
happened too soon, after the auditions.
I am very proud now, and happy, but I also feel responsible. Rajat Tokas did a very good job, and I have to maintain the TRPs and the fan following that he brought in –
all the kids, older citizens, and, of course, the girls, who followed this serial dedicatedly because of Rajat.
Q. First it was 'Kahiin Toh Hoga', and now this. Your colleagues must be envious of the breaks you get.
A. In 'Kahiin Toh Hoga', my co-stars and colleagues were already well-established in the industry. Colleagues who were a part of my life during my struggling days may be a little insecure, but I don't think anyone is
envious. If they work hard, they will achieve their goal.
Q. What do you think of the fact that you are being touted as a newcomer, despite your stint with Balaji? Does that mean that your role in 'Kahiin Toh Hoga' went unnoticed?
A. I am glad of that, since, in television, an actor is known by the last role he played, and it becomes almost a permanent identity. I think people should be able to accept an actor in different roles. It is the performance
that should be noticed and appreciated, so that one is known as an actor, and has an individual identity.
I am glad that people have forgotten Karthik Ahluwalia, and now call me Prithviraj. I am also thrilled that
they know me more as Anas Rashid, from Punjab.
Q. According to your female fans, you are looking very hot. Did you work on your body for this show?
A. I was healthier than this. Since I had to play to role of a king in his late teens, I had to lose a lot of weight. Also, I had to match my physique with Rajat's, so that there was not too much of a jerk in continuity.
Q. Your predecessor, Rajat Tokas, was extremely popular, which was why Prithviraj did not grow up in the serial for a very long time. Were you apprehensive about comparisons?
A. I am sure that the audience will compare the two of us, but I have to work harder to avoid criticism. Since Rajat was a child artiste, many of his flaws may have been overlooked. As the senior Prithvi, there will be no
leniency for me.
I had to be very sincere, and I still am. There was a lot to learn in the past few weeks – body language, horse riding, sword fighting, etc, and, of course, the accent in pure Hindi. It has been
tough, preparing for this role.
Q. Have you met Rajat?
A. Yes, we did three press conferences together. I also observed him on shoot for 2-3 days, so that I can imbibe his mannerisms and improvise them as the senior Prithvi.
Q. You are a post graduate in Psychology. Does your knowledge help in your acting?
A. I believe that when you are educated, and have done your Masters, then 80 per cent of the battle is won, whatever the job. And an understanding of Psychology is the icing on the cake. Your powers of observance
and imbibing characteristics are enhanced.
You know the mental state of the character, his expressions, and his mannerisms, how he will behave in certain situations, etc. By enacting, I am presenting
Q. You apparently enjoy singing.
A. I believe I am a good singer, not that I have won awards, though. If I was not an actor, I would have been a singer. I participated in competitions in school and college. I am told I have leadership qualities. I was also
into wrestling, when I was in Punjab, as well as body building, and other sports.
Strangely, I was never a part of any dramatic society, nor did I want to be an actor, till I won the Mr Punjab title in 2004. Offers
for music videos fell into my lap after that, and one thing led to another, and here I am.
Q. What about your family? Were they supportive of your decision?
A. My immediate family – my parents, my sister and her husband, and my younger brother – were happy for me. However, as we live in a joint family, other relatives condemned the decision. In fact, the television set
entered our house only six years ago, and that I would be on the screen so soon was a huge shock.
Q. Do you have Bollywood aspirations?
A. I would want to act in Bollywood films, but it will not be my final destination. I also want to go to Hollywood. I would want to make a mark in my country first, of course. I don't think any television offer will be a notch
above this one, and I would not want to disappoint my fans. I also want to write scripts, but right now, I am concentrating on this role.
Q. You know some 5-6 languages. How come?
A. I know Punjabi because I was born and brought up there. Hindi and English come naturally to an Indian, from school days. I studied in an Urdu medium school, and my grandfather was the Principal. I know Urdu, as
well as Arabic, in which I can read and write.
One of my uncles is the Head of Department for Persian, so I know Persian, too. A few Nepalese people worked in our factory, and I learned that language also. I
try to learn as many languages as I can, and would want to learn at least all the Indian languages.
Q. Previously, there was a lot of hype about Angad Bedi playing the senior Prithviraj Chauhan. What happened?
A. Yes, Angad was the first choice, but then he went abroad for some time. In the meantime, Rajat became increasingly popular, so the adult Prithvi's introduction kept getting postponed.
Also, there needed
to be some kind of continuity in physical appearance, given Rajat's popularity. Angad would not have suited the role then. And that is how I got this role. - Sonu Ananad
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