Mohit Raina: “Comedy Is One Genre I Really Want To Explore”
From being universally worshipped as lord Shiva to saving lives…
From being universally worshipped as lord Shiva to saving lives as a doctor in the recent 26/11 web series, Mohit Raina is all about stepping out of the comfort zone, and making sure we see everything he has to offer, frame to frame, and film to film
It took every ounce of strength in me to not fold my hands and bow my head when I met Mohit Raina for the first time. I realised what people from the previous generation would have felt when they came across Arun Govil (Ram) or Nitish Bharadwaj (Krishna) in person. Mohit has been immortalised as Lord Shiva in the minds of this generation with the TV series Devon Ke Dev: Mahadev. Each time I pray to Lord Shiva, Mohit’s face flashes before my eyes. The TV show ran for four years, and wrapped in December 2014, but reruns and multiple language dubs have retained the fervour for Raina. Raina reveals that he receives more phone calls and messages on Maha Shivratri than on his birthday. He states, “Earlier, I didn’t understand this craze. But now, I realise that it is similar to thinking of James Bond and imagining the actor Pierce Brosnan. So, people thinking of me as Shiva is a privilege.”
The actor is still in that TV to film transition. Post Mahadev, Raina essayed the role of Emperor Ashoka in Chakravartin Ashoka Samrat and Havildar Ishar Singh in the series 21 Sarfarosh – Saragarhi 1897. The movie was based on the Battle of Saragarhi. Raina then was seen in Uri: The Surgical Strike. and made his web debut with Kaafir and Bhaukaal. Playing these larger-than-life roles posed many challenges for Raina. He admits, “I was used to being powerful on-screen. After that, I couldn’t really disassociate myself, and play a lover boy holding a rose. In my mind, I wanted to hold a sword or a gun, and play the role of a soldier, or someone who exudes power. I had to really make myself understand it was not the route I should take. I guess this is the sole reason why I particularly took up Kaafir with Siddharth P. Malhotra and Dia Mirza. I played the role of Vedant Rathod, who was powerless. It is very easy to get boxed in an image. For instance, after Uri, I was offered many army officer roles who die in the film. The makers showed faith in me, and thankfully, now that larger-than-life image is starting to break.”
He is now a part of Nikkhil Advani’s Mumbai Diaries 26/11, which is probably his biggest outing on the web. The series is based on the Mumbai terror attacks of 26/11. Mohit plays Dr Kaushik Oberoi, caught amidst a terrorist attack in his hospital. He recalls, “Nikkhil Advani was working on multiple scripts when he approached me. He graciously asked me which project I would like to do, and I chose Mumbai Diaries. Nikkhil agreed and said, ‘Let’s sit together and work on this.’” Raina remembers that he was in Vashi, and wasn’t allowed into the city during the Mumbai attacks. Entry points of the city were blocked for safety measures. He had to spend a few days at a friend’s place. When he finally stepped out to reach home, he felt an eerie silence in the atmosphere, and that silence was terrifying for him.
“Being from Kashmir, one would feel that we have seen it all. But I had never thought that I would see anything like this in Mumbai. I hope and pray that no one ever has to see anything like this ever again,” he says.
The 26/11 attacks have been a point of interest for many national and international books and movies. But this show offers a unique take on the incident. The show is from a doctor’s point of view, who was stuck in the hospital on that fateful night.
Raina was recently admitted to a Lucknow hospital after he tested positive for Covid. “I was in the hospital for three weeks. I’m still recovering. I was privileged that I got the right treatment at the right time but look at the irony of life, I don’t remember the face of the doctors who treated me. They always had their masks and PPE kits on. This story is a small way to show our gratitude to the doctors.”
Not many are aware that Raina’s journey began when he participated in the Grasim Mr. India contest. He established a base in the city with his modelling assignments before starting with TV, and is cementing his place on the web and in films. When asked what is the biggest difference between the two formats for him, he replies, “There is more creative satisfaction on the web. A lot of time is spent on preparing for the role. I was trained by a real doctor in the hospital for my role as Dr Oberoi. I literally sat with pen and paper, and took notes like a student. I had to take an exam as well. Something like this is not possible on TV as we are always working against time.” Rain is currently garnering a lot of praise for his portrayal of Dr Oberoi in Mumbai Diaries.
He also adds, “TV has its own place and audience. The content is being made because there’s an audience that accepts that content. Yes, few will not like it or will find it difficult to accept it, or call it not right or not worth their time. People have a right to their opinions.”
In fact, the actor is still open to acting offers on TV. “I’m open to all mediums. The duration of my character has never mattered to me. Though I would love to go behind the camera in the future, I want to satisfy my hunger as an actor. At the moment, there are so many roles to explore.”
“There is ample scope for everyone in front and behind the camera in this digital day and age. I think I got lucky that producers and directors had a lot of faith in me, and were willing to give me different roles.”
The actor did a cameo as a flight passenger in Karan Johar’s Good Newwz, starring Akshay Kumar and Kareena Kapoor. He admits, “I did the role for my friend and director Raj Mehta. All the funnies you see in the scene are from Raj’s mind. Comedy is one genre I really want to explore.”
He is now all set to be back in films. His last release is an out-and-out romantic film, Shiddat. Raina remarks, “It is a romantic role, and again, it is something I haven’t done before. I can’t wait for people to see it.” He is also in talks for several web shows, one of which is completely action-oriented that Raina is eagerly looking forward to. To bigger projects, and lots of Raina on screen for us.