It was a bit weird on the sets because all the ladies playing my wife, mother, mother-in-law, sisters-in-law and the gentlemen playing pivotal characters in the show conversed in Marathi and I couldn’t understand a word,” laughs Sushant Singh Rajput, recalling his initial days on the sets of Zee TV’s Pavitra Rishta (inspired by South-Indian daily soap Thirumati Selvam) that completed 500 episodes and a two-year-run recently. “The language is a bit familiar now but I still can’t deliver a line in Marathi.”
The male lead of the show, Rajput plays a Maharashtrian character called Manav Deshmukh, a garage mechanic who lives in a chawl. When asked if he ever attempted to learn Marathi for his role, he admits it was a disaster. “I remember one of my first episodes. For one of the scenes, I had to comfortably drop a line or two in Marathi, the way the rest of the characters do. I rehearsed for a day. But it didn’t help because my discomfort and unfamiliarity with the language was too evident,” he recalls. “After that scene, my director never asked me to say another line in Marathi.”
However, Sushant says that he’s been accepted as a Maharashtrian after playing one for over two years, five days every week; thanks to the way his character was moulded after the aforementioned episode. He extends gratitude towards the director and writers who’ve created situations in the show, and his Maharashtrian co-actors who accommodated his lingual handicap. “Today, even Maharashtrian aunties and uncles who follow the show adore me as Manav. They address me by my screen name and speak to me in Marathi, although they know I’m not a Maharashtrian,” he adds.
It was also in the course of the show that he met Ankita Lokhande who plays Archana, the leading lady who he fell in love with, on and off screen. He proposed to her on Sony Entertainment’s dance reality show, Jhalak Dikkhlaa Jaa 4. The couple plans to marry four-five years later. “Neither of us knew that we’d grow so close to each other when we started working with each other. When I announced my feelings for her, impromptu on national TV, my family and she were stunned because everyone knows that I’m as shy in person as my on-screen character,” giggles Sushant. “To this day they ask me if it was something I pulled off for TRPs.”