Rohan Mehra, the character of Sony TV’s show, Rishta.com needs no introduction for avid viewers of the show. Those that don’t follow the show are missing out on a real treat. Born and bred in London, the extremely talented Kavi Shastri, who plays the role of Mehra, developed an almost instant fan following from the very first episode. Rishta.com is about a matrimonial service set up by two college friends and the goings-on within this business. Shastri, who also starred in Love Aaj Kal before making his Indian television debut, has seen his popularity sore to unforeseen heights. He also has done work on UK television programmes like The Bill and Holby City. BollySpice speaks to Kavi about his journey from London to India and his experiences in Bollywood and Rishta.com…
Did you always want to become an actor?
I always wanted to be a lawyer; acting is something that happened to me. I started acting and dancing after watching Michael Jackson on TV. I was a little hyperactive (little being an understatement, I was like a child who injected himself with E numbers every morning). So, I fell into acting. Also academically I was not sound enough, but found my mind was more motivated and better used in the arts.
Why do you love acting?
I am a child at heart. For me it’s almost like playing cops and robbers as a child. Your imagination runs wild as you play with your friends, and you imagine you are the cop or robber, and you believe. That’s what I do every day. I love it!
What, in particular, attracts you to a role?
It really depends. I don’t really look at it in any other way than, if it excites me, I’m game!
Love Aaj Kal
How did you land the role in Love Aaj Kal? What was it like working with Saif Ali Khan on his first home production?
It happened by fluke. I headed home to London after spending 3 months in India and when I turned my phone on, I received a call from my agent. She told me in a very British accent ‘a Mr Imtiaz Ali would like to meet you’. I went from the airport to the audition and 2 months later, there I was. Saif was brilliant to work with. It was his first production and my first Hindi feature so we both learnt on the job so to say.
What did you learn?
Patience is the key to success. I also picked up various things from Imtiaz as well.
Did you have to change your style of acting shooting on a Bollywood film like Love Aaj Kal, in comparison to working in UK television programmes like The Bill and Holby City?
You do have to change slightly. Really depends on you role. For me, I think I jus gelled with Imtiaz so I was able to be myself within my character, Jatt!
When you first got the role of Rohan Mehra in the serial, did you anticipate that the show and your character would be as popular as it is?
I never did. After reading Rohan I honestly thought he would be loved, but not in such a huge way as he has. He has been written very well, so I don’t have to do much, the dialogue seals his every move.
How much are you like Rohan?
There’s a little bit of me. I think his blunt and yet compassionate side is me in reality. His Casanova side, is not me at all. I’m not too hot with that side of life. He is the boy your mother warned you about and yet secretly wants to date herself. I think there are bits of both in him.
What, in your eyes, is the most appealing aspect of a show like Rishta.com?
The dialogue is just so fresh. It doesn’t leave room for anything else. I love the lines, the humour, it’s very British.
What are your plans now that you’ve finished shooting for the first season?
First I need a holiday, then off to look for something else to sink my teeth into.
Are you going to be doing a second season?
At this moment nothing has been decided. Will keep you posted.
I Hate Love Stories
Tell us about your experience working on the film.
I would love to say it was fantastic but I can’t, as I have no idea. I’m not in the film, it’s a rumour. Kavin Dave (aka Husiefa Ali in Rishta.com) is in the film. According to Kavin and Imran its a blast to work on.
Do you have any funny stories that you can share?
Yes I do, I’m not in it.
How much do you now feel part of the industry coming into Bollywood from another culture?
I feel very much a part of and attached to the Indian film and television industry here. I think back in the UK we are generally exposed to the industry through various media. It’s almost as if you know everyone before you even get here. It is a very small family here, so you never feel like an outsider.
What do you miss most about London?
Other than my family and Tesco, I think a good chip shop. Or a nice dirty kebab! Oh and of course the weather.
Which country do you now count as home: England or India?
They are both my homes. You make your home where ever you are in the world. When I’m in London, Mumbai is my holiday home and vice-versa.
What kinds of projects will we be seeing you in next?
At the moment nothing is planned. I’m out looking for something fresh, so it’s another waiting game.
Finally, is there anything you would like to say to your many fans?
I don’t think I can say anything to even justify the love I have been given by my fans. I think ill just work harder for them, and try and deliver the best I can always.
Well, Kavi Shastri may have been known as the “new” heartthrob of Indian television but with his immense acting talent, humbleness, down-to-earth attitude and luring star quality are sure to guarantee that he is here to stay. We wish Kavi well with his forthcoming projects and hope that he will grace our screens for a long time to come – in TV or films.