The lead couple of Tu Sooraj Main Saanjh Piyaji, Avinesh Rekhi and Rhea Sharma, has a huge fan base to please. The show is a sequel to the hit series, Diya Aur Baati Hum that starred Anas Rashid and Deepika Singh. Understandably, the two have a huge responsibility, but the new pair has managed to sail through smoothly, thanks to their developing chemistry.
In a candid conversation, the two tell us about the pressures of taking forward the story, their journey and more. Edited excerpts from the interview:
You both got talking to each other on the sets of the show. What got you guys talking?
Avinesh: The mock-shoot for the show was the icebreaker. We used to meet frequently during our reading sessions and soon afterwards, we started talking and got to know each other a little more every day. Our conversations made us realise that we have a few things in common. By the time we started shooting, we had a stronger bond.
Rhea: We would discuss our scenes together and that’s what actually got us talking. Our love for the craft was another common thing between us. The exchange got better with each passing day and before we knew it, we had become friends.
How long did you guys take to get comfortable with each other?
Rhea: It usually takes a while to get along with someone, and the same happened with us. Our outdoor shoots got us closer. One always feels homesick when shooting outdoors, and the co-star is the only person you can share your feelings to. His support pretty much got me comfortable with him.
Avinesh: We filmed extensively in Kerala and Rajasthan. Even though we shot many hit and miss sequences, the time we spent between these shots gave us enough time to develop a comfort level.
Your characters Uma Shankar and Kanak are poles apart. How similar or different are Rhea and Avinesh?
Avinesh: Just like our characters, we are poles apart too. She has a vibrant personality, but sometimes prefers solitude. I always prefer being around people.
Rhea: We are similar with regards to how we work and how we connect to our respective characters. But, otherwise, we are different — he is outgoing and can talk to absolutely anybody. I’m reserved at times; I hesitate to have a conversation with people I do not know well.
Would you credit your rapport for your convincing on-screen chemistry?
Avinesh: Yes, of course. Any good off-screen relationship results in great chemistry on-screen. We share a comfort level. More than that, I think both of us are dedicated to our work. The moment the camera screams “Action!” we become Kanak and Uma Shankar.
Rhea: We are both extremely connected to our characters and we share a great rapport. So, our chemistry automatically looks convincing.
Rhea, you are relatively new to the industry, and Avinesh is fairly experienced. Did you ever hesitate to open up to him because of his seniority?
Rhea: Avinesh goes out of his way to make me feel comfortable. I trusted him, and that gave me the confidence to open up to him.
The first season of the show, Diya Aur Baati Hum, was a super success. There is a lot of pressure to make it work. Does it scare you in any way?
Avinesh: I think the first season did their bit and now we are here to take the legacy of Diya Aur Baati Hum forward with Tu Sooraj Main Saanjh Piyaji. And, we are working hard! I hope the efforts pay off. I don’t feel any pressure. In fact, I am honoured to be a part of the show.
Sooraj and Sandhya became a cult couple. Do you think you will be able to recreate the magic?
Avinesh: We are sure that the show will definitely become a hit. We are working extremely hard to weave a magic onscreen. As far as becoming a cult couple like Sooraj and Sandhya is concerned, well, we can only try and leave the rest to the Almighty and the janta.
Rhea: Every jodi takes time to establish themselves. They did too and so will we — we know it will be great because we have immense faith in our characters. We have every reason to believe that we have the potential to become the next Sooraj and Sandhya of the small screen.
Avinesh, since you’re a senior, do you feel protective about Rhea?
Avinesh: She knows her work well. She is very young and I’m a couple of shows old, so it is natural for me to feel protective towards her.
Rhea: He is like a mentor to me on the sets. He helps me with my scenes and is very patient with me when I make silly mistakes. He makes sure I deliver my best. I think we make a great team together.
Is there a funny incident while filming that you would like to share?
Avinesh: There was this one scene in which Kanak (Rhea) emerges from the washroom wearing Uma Shankar’s (Avinesh) kurta. Since I am tall, the kurta looked like a long dress. She looked really funny.
Rhea: Yes, I will never forget that scene.
Favourite corner on sets:
Avinesh: My room
Rhea: My room
Favourite food on sets:
Avinesh: My diet food
Things you cannot stay without on the sets?
Avinesh: My diet food
Rhea: Currently water to keep myself hydrated.
Favourite line on the sets:
Rhea: “Break time”
Stress-buster on the sets?
Avinesh: Interacting with people
Rhea: Playing games on my phone
Your dream date:
Avinesh: On a cruise
Rhea: A date by the beach or an isolated island
Your first crush?
Avinesh: I had a girlfriend in school. I don’t even remember her name now.
Rhea: I don’t want to reveal it.