Nakuul Mehta of Pyar Ka Dard Hai fame says television can no longer be considered a stepchild of films
You see Nakuul Mehta as Aditya every weekday on Star Plus in Pyar Ka Dard Hai, but did you know that the hazel-eyed actor’s first love is theatre? Nakuul was in Bangalore recently to perform “his most challenging role,” of M in the Mike Bartlett-written and Manish Gandhi-directed Cock at Jagriti Theatre. Nakuul’s portrayal of a gay man has been the biggest learning in his career, though, as he clarifies in a telephonic interview, “the role wasn’t tough because the character is gay, but because he thinks differently.” The role of Aditya, in fact, isn’t conventional either. “He’s not the sort who will beat up 10 guys, but he will stand by anyone. He is real with strong likes and dislikes.” And though Nakuul is not much like Aditya, he quite likes the character’s “stubborn, yet loving nature.”
Coming back to Cock, Nakuul says it was wonderful to put himself in the shoes of a person, so different from him. The role not only won Nakuul acclaim, but also deeply touched the audience. “Right after the show, a 40-year-old man who had just come out to his family came up to us and told us how much he loved the play. There were many people from the LGBT community who told us how moved they were by the play,” says Nakuul who was part of the Bombay Playback Theatre group. Cock, Nakuul says, was thought-provoking without being sensational. “The role was an honourable portrayal.”
Speaking of audience reaction, Nakuul said: “Mumbai is far more forgiving. They laugh at every kind of joke. But in Bangalore, the audience laughed at all the intelligent references. We found it tougher to please the Bangalore audience. Judging from the responses we got at Jagriti, we managed to cut some ice.” Nakuul, who has a Masters degree in Commerce, gave up a scholarship abroad to pursue acting. He has worked across other media, including commercials and films. He acted in the Hindi film Haal-e-Dil and made his movie debut in Telugu with Abhimaani. The assumption that television actors are awed by the big screen doesn’t hold true for Nakuul. “I consider myself an actor first. The rush you get in theatre is incomparable, which is not always so in films. Also, television is no longer considered a step child to films. Ram Kapoor and Ronit Roy, both television stars, have worked simultaneously in films and television. Amitabh Bachchan will feature in a tv serial soon.”
Pyar Ka Dard Hai has made Nakuul a household name. “People came to watch Cock because they knew me from my serial. I was pleasantly surprised to see many Bangaloreans recognise me from my serial” he says. As of now, Nakuul divides his time between Cock and Pyar Ka Dard Hai, but would someday love to anchor a show.