Not everyone gets to play God onscreen and be worshipped by countless people for his day job. Mohit Raina is an exception amongst TV actors. Many have worked in mythology but like Nitish Bharadwaj after the national cult Mahabharat of the eighties, Raina got his own share of god like attention after Devon Ka Dev Mahadev became a massive success in India and amongst diaspora audiences worldwide.
Being worshipped, like Lord Shiva, and getting recognised as him, has its own pleasures and pitfalls. “I remember that during this phase, whenever I would go out to dinner, I would only be served vegetarian food. I would go out with my friends, and if someone orders vegetarian dishes, those serving would automatically bring those to me. It's like they simply couldn’t imagine me eating anything other than that. Here in India, we attach genuine faith to our religious beliefs. I took my part as Lord Shiva and all that it meant very seriously, and we did our best to do justice to this story,” he recalls.
Along with Dia Mirza, Raina leads an upcoming web series Kaafir on Zee 5, where he plays a journalist who goes back to being a lawyer aiding the return of a Pakistani woman wrongfully captured and held in prison as a terrorist in India. “We don’t necessarily explore the professional aspects of this character. While shooting for the 45-day schedule in Jammu, I got to learn the narrative and curve of this character. He actually goes out to help this woman for a very personal reason which you will find out when you watch the series.” he says. Raina has spent some of his childhood years in Jammu and Kashmir. Basic knowledge of Urdu learnt from his grandfather, and familiarity with the local culture of the state, helped him play Vedant in Kaafir with nuance.
Written by Bhavani Iyer and directed by Sonam Nair, Kafir features Dia Mirza as Kainaaz, the woman who is trapped on this side of the border. Rather than research real-life professionals that help prisoners and work towards reform in legal aid, Raina watched videos of the woman who suffered this unique situation and depended on his director’s vision. “While working on a role, I follow the director’s vision. Then I build upon its emotions from A to Z. Depending on what the character is going through, I use them to make it convincing,” he explains.
Probe him on his success at creating TV characters that are unforgettable, Raina humbly credits his luck and appearance. “Television is a visual medium. Half the job was done when the look fitted my part; by God’s grace, that worked for me (when I played Shiva). I feel really lucky that when I was in Jammu, my third subject was Sanskrit. That helped me understand Shiva and bits from the Shivpurana, which was our reference for creating this series. We showed his life from hermit to householder, and I think with this one, we did manage to do a good job,” Raina reminisces. TV remains his staple with recent successes like Chakravartin Ashok Samrat, and the new age Mahabharat. But Raina made an impression with his turn as a Special Forced commando in this year’s runaway super hit, Uri: The Surgical Strike.
But Raina enjoys the streaming space the most. Having appeared in 21 Sarfarosh- Saragarhi, 1897, with Kaafir, he cements his preference for the medium and the variety of parts that it has to offer. “I enjoy streaming the most because it has a specific time limit. TV has given me everything and I am thankful, but it does have its difficulties as one shoots round the clock, he explains.
As his ability to navigate roles across mediums becomes evident, Raina has his hands full with 4 upcoming projects. There is an important film that he is tight-lipped about but is visibly excited by. Bhaukaal, his next web series features him as a heartland cop is based on the life of IPS officer Navneit Sekara. “When you start from scratch whenever you begin something afresh I am happy with how content is being shaped today, but I am not satisfied yet. I am hungry for a lot more,” he concludes.
Raina’s got time to satiate his hunger for better parts and work, but for now, he definitely has no time for love, Mouni Roy, or marriage for that matter.Read More