Mar 3 2012 (Calcutta Tube / IBNS): Versatile actor KK Raina has been seen portraying a variety of roles in films and threatre. However the audience of the 90’s era remembers him as Dr. Watson-like side-kick Ajit in the 1993 Doordarshan detective series Byomkesh Bakshi. The actor, who will be returning to the small screen after almost 22 years, speaks to IBNS about his new serial “Upanishad Ganga”. Excerpts:
What is Upanishad Ganga?
Upanishad Ganga is a serial which will bring the audience closer to the Indian Philosophy. This serial is a means to understand our Vedas and Upanishads. We usually talk so highly of our Vedas, Upanishads, our values and our culture, but not many of us know the depth of it, not many of us have the apt knowledge of it. This serial gives audience the teachings of the Upanishads and Vedas. Appropriate stories are picked up and seamed in in such a way that it takes you back to that era.
Tell us something about your character in this serial.
Well, I don’t play just one character but many characters. Like I told you, different stories have been picked up and weaved to give audience the message of Upanishads .So I have played the character of Haridas, Chanakya, Narad, Yajnavalkya etc.
Which one of these has been your favorite character?
Actually all have been my favorite but the playing Chanakya and Narad was quiet interesting. Also I have played a sage who is a north Indian saint who goes to south India. This role was also very interesting. This north Indian saint when goes to south doesn’t know South Indian language but learns only one word which he uses for all the conversations. The word “Parvailla” which means all is well is used throughout the episode by the character which is a challenge in itself. Playing such characters was challenging as well as interesting
Chanakya was earlier played by Dr Chandra Prakash Dwivedi who is also the director of this serial. Was there any stress that you might not be able to play it quiet as well as Dwivedi?
There was no such a thing as stress. In fact the way I have played Chanakya, I have added a new dimension to it. Chanakya played by Dr saheb was quiet serene and peaceful but I have played him aggressive and strong.
Do you think that the serial will appeal to the youth?
Frankly speaking the serial is meant for those who wish to watch something intellectual and not the saas-bahu sagas. Having said that, I feel the concepts of Upanishad are relevant even today and so it will appeal to the masses. I say this because the right to education which we so talk about in this era was actually proposed in that era by Chanakya. The problems which we tackle now, they have already been through those problems and the answers of which are given but what we need to do is develop these answers.
How was the experience of working in this serial?
Overall the experience of working in this serial was very interesting. This serial became a medium to understand our culture and ethos. It changed the way I look at life. For me, it was like reliving and revisiting the history. Some jobs you do it for the sake of it and some jobs make you grow as a human being, you alleviate yourself intellectually and this serial did that to me.
Why did you leave the world of small screen? Why did you agree to do this serial after so many years?
Some 22 years ago I had done a serial called as Byomkesh Bakshi and which turned out to be my last serial. I left it in the first place because I am much used to working in a theatric format where the scripts are given beforehand. Working in the serial you get scripts on the day of the shoot which is what I don’t like about it. However, when Dr Saheb approached me for this serial he assured me that he will give me scripts before the shoot and so I agreed.
You have also acted with Ben Kingsley in Gandhi. Tell us about that experience.
You see, acting is a lonely job. You need passion for acting. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea and this I realized after working with Ben Kingsley. During the shoot when I visited Sir Ben Kingsley’s suite I saw that the entire suite had pictures and books on Mahatma Gandhi. Sir Ben even had a charkha and knew how to use. This is how it dawned upon me that acting is not everyone’s job. You have to live the life of the character you are going to enact.
What are you future ventures?
I am working on a movie which will be Kashmir centric, working with DD Urdu and doing a play called Namaste.