The six-pack Ram: Gurmeet Choudhary
Twenty five years after the original TV series, a new generation of viewers dicovered Ramayan through Gurmeet Choudhary. That his father is called Sitaram and the fact that his family read the Ramayan every day are just quirks of karma.Updated: Oct 18, 2014 20:17 IST
The challenge of playing Ram, from dialogues to diets
*So keen was Choudhary to perfect the sometimes two-page-long dialogues in difficult Hindi during the shooting of Ramayan that he rehearsed his lines standing before a mirror at Baroda’s Presidency Hotel.
*Even before playing Ram, Choudhary liked working out and was fitness-conscious. But during the making of the serial, he stayed off fried snacks, particularly samosas and tried sticking to home-made food.
*He has always been a teetotaller and never craved cigarettes or alcohol
For a long time, Choudhary studied in Kendriya Vidyalaya schools spread across the nation. "As an army kid, I was exposed to an eclectic mix of places and people across cities where my father was posted: whether it was Chennai, Srinagar or Jabalpur, among others. Finally, I completed my bachelor’s degree in commerce from Jabalpur’s Khalsa College."
Later, he told me it was my eyes that did the trick. For the lead role, the producers were looking for an actor who possessed kamal-nayani (lotus-shaped eyes)."
So, his protagonist had to go the extra yard to look the part. "Anandji said the Ram I was playing was a warrior. He had to be bulkier and more realistic than depicted in the original TV series.
Therefore, I had to build six-pack abs and do strength training. Also, since the producers didn’t want the next-gen Ram to sport a wig – that would have looked too cosmetic in today’s day and age – I grew my hair for the one-and-a-half years the show was on air from 2011 to 2012."
"Since the serial generated good ratings, people came to associate us with the characters that we were playing. But much before we enacted the iconic roles, Debina and I had already been in a relationship for three years. We didn’t meet on the sets of Ramayan. We auditioned in a Mr & Miss Bollywood Contest on Sahara Manoranjan and that’s where we came closer."
"It was my first daily show. Exactly 25 years after the original, a newer generation of viewers who had heard about the Doordarshan Ramayan from their parents, rediscovered the epic. It kicked off my career fantastically, and fortunately, Geet-Hui Sabse Parayi kept the momentum going."
"I didn’t want to be stereotyped. So, I consciously tried a range of roles. But more than that, seeing me in reality shows helped change my perception in people’s minds from a good-looking rookie who played Ram to a versatile performer.
Even before these shows, I participated in Pati Patni Aur Woh on NDTV Imagine with Debina. I had my fill of reality shows before I called it a day on television. "
Still, did he have to do his first big role with a production house best known for making erotic thrillers and horror flicks? "Yes, I’ve signed a three-film deal with Vishesh Films and these days, we are shooting Khamoshiyan co-starring Ali Fazal and Sapna Pabbi. Ram was just a character that I played and enjoyed. But unlike the bhagwan, I am just a kalyug ka insaan."
From HT Brunch, October 19
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