As an actor I understand commercials, not awards: Mohnish Behl
Actor Mohnish Behl on why it is important for a film to do commercially well over everything elseUpdated: Dec 04, 2019 16:36 IST
Actor Mohnish Bahl, who has shown his acting prowess in classics such as Maine Pyar Kiya (1989) and Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! (1994), has always tried to stay relevant with the changing times in cinema. Having tried his hand at television, too, there is not much that the actor has not experimented with. Now, Mohnish is earnestly hoping that his next film, Panipat, directed by Ashutosh Gowariker does well.
How easy or difficult was it to play a non-fiction character, considering there will be comparisons with references available?
I play Nanasaheb Peshwa, and we went by the reference of paintings and miniatures depicted. They give you an understanding of the demeanour of the man. I tried to bring those characteristics into my role. I don’t see anything wrong in playing a non-fiction character. When you walk into a grand set like this, you realise how huge it is. We are recreating a part of history that is very close to our hearts. Because of my mom (late Nutan; actor), my influences have been more Maharashtrian while growing up. And, with all this grandeur and effort you really want the film to work.
What about the mental preparation of the character?
The entire credit goes to Ashutosh, for his clarity and vision. It comes down to the factual parts that the director adds into the story and which areas he is trying to explore. For example, Nanasaheb, is a very good administrator but not a warrior. He believed his nephew Sadashiv Rao Bhau would be the right choice but his wife, Gopikabai thinks otherwise. So, in the darbar you see a determined man but in the bedroom it’s not the story. That’s when you come to the internal family politics. My participation as Nanasaheb was primarily focused on these aspects. The family equation and relationship between the husband and wife.
So, how much of this do you draw from real life experiences?
Of course, one does. In a successful union of two people, in any relationship there always has to be a give and take. If one gets into an ego battle, one has to bear in mind, what is important as far as the issues is considered, ego or the relationship? You have to be balanced.
On a personal note, with Pranutan entering the industry, have conversations at dinner table changed? Do you advise her?
Yes, of course. I get a lot of advice from her (laughs). She keeps telling me about social media presence, traction and what not. And, I turn around and ask her, did the picture do well? She calls me a commercial actor and I agree. I tell her, we make films, so that people watch it and pay for it. I don’t understand awards and all. She is a very good actor, now she needs a commercial success. She has started to understand what I mean by this (smiles).
How would you describe your process when it comes to television as compared to films?
Honestly, I am not in a position to answer. I believe for economic reasons, television is not exploited to the extent it can be. On television, you are making business sense but not creative. And, audience today have other forms of entertainment, that are linear and directional. They know where the product is going. As an actor, I don’t believe I am working my full potential in television. I need to know the history of my character or how he will react to something ten episodes later. I come from the time when we had full scripts. Bottom line is , I am not used to what television has become today.