The upcoming serial Maha Kumbh is the most expensive serial to be made and Gautam Rode is all geared up for the biggest challenge of his career. The actor plunges into a passionate description of his character. “I play a man named Rudra. He is mysterious, enigmatic, aggressive and secretive. He lives in a shamshan ghat. Maha Kumbh is the story of Rudra’s journey.”
And the epic scale of presentation is unique to Indian television. “The serial will take me all over the world. We’ve already shot in Poland, Allahabad and Varanasi. We will soon head for different parts of Europe.”
And unlike the usual soaps on TV, Maha Kumbh has a finite lifespan. Says Gautam. “We’re doing two seasons of 60 episodes each. We’ve already shot 20 episodes. From what I see, this series is unlike anything on Indian television. I think it’ll prove to be a gamechanger.” The initial episodes were shot by Arvind Babbal, whom Gautam holds in the highest esteem. “He shot the initial parts of my Saraswatichandra.
According to me he’s among the best talents I’ve worked with. The work that I’ve seen him do is outstanding. We don’t look at Maha Kumbh as just another serial and we would like viewers to see what we see. We haven’t had a gamechanger on Indian television for a very long time. We hope this one will make a difference to the way audiences look at the home viewing medium.”
Maha Kumbh replaces another gamechanger, Devon Ke Dev Mahadev, on the Life OK channel. The mythological serial had made Mohit Raina a household name and Gautam acknowledges the responsibility being thrust on him. But he says he is not in competition with any serial. “Maha Kumbh is not competing with anything for the simple reason that it doesn’t have any parallels on television. I am grateful to Star for giving me an opportunity like this so soon after Saraswatichandra.”
Gautam began shooting for Maha Kumbh just days after Saraswatichandra went off air. “And it was a 360-degree turn for my performing abilities. I feel blessed to have two such contrasting roles one after another. Maha Kumbh blends elements from Hindu mythology with an international espionage thriller. Nothing like it has ever been attempted on Indian television.”
Gautam also feels that television should stop being seen as a stepping-stone to cinema. “Everyone who comes to the entertainment industry wants to be a film actor. Who wants to be a television actor by choice? I want to change the perception of Indian television as being the poor man’s medium. When I hear people tell me, ‘Television kiya, kya ukhad liya?’ I feel like telling them to please come and try doing the work we do on television, the unearthly hours we put in. There is no time for anything else.”
Gautam, who doesn’t even have time for finding a ladylove, says, “I am single. And my mother is worried. Like every mother she wants me to get married. But so far I’ve been relieved to be single. Now when I’m in my 30s I feel I can’t wait for the workload to slow down. Instead I need to find someone who will accompany me in my professional journey.”
Gautam sports a cool tattoo and a muscled look to play Rudra, something his lady fans will love. He adds, “I am grateful to the ladies for their attention. My styling, clothes, tattoos everything on Maha Kumbh has been done after a lot of thought.”
So, does Gautam get to romance a girl as pretty as Jennifer Winget, his co-star from Saraswatichandra? “There isn’t that much of a romantic angle in Maha Kumbh as there was in Saraswatichandra. My immediate co-star is the very wonderful Seema Biswas who plays my foster-mother.” Gautam was wrongly quoted as saying he didn’t get along with Winget. “I never said that. Our work methods were different. But on a personal level we are friends. In fact I am in touch with her in London where she is shooting for her first feature film.”...