Set eyes on him for the first time and Rohit Saraf seems like the quintessential chocolate boy, but one conversation with him, and you’ll be struggling to find more adjectives to describe him. Beyond the fan-made Instagram reels, the urban boys that he plays on screen and his charming life on social media, there is a hardworking 25-year-old who is always looking for something new to do. I don’t remember a time when Rohit Saraf wasn’t a relevant topic of discussion. From his Bollywood debut in Dear Zindagi as Alia Bhatt’s supportive younger brother to his overtly famous Rishi Singh Sekhawat from Mismatched, Saraf has made the best of the eight years that he has been in the industry. The actor, however, feels that there is so much more to do. 

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Keen to experiment with the kind of roles he’s doing, Saraf is soon going to be seen in Hrithik Roshan’s Vikram Vedha. While the details of the movie have to be kept under wraps and Saraf has invited me for another interview some day in the future for it, he is excited to be seen in a new light. Until then, we talk to Rohit Saraf about his life now. Excerpts from the interview:

MW: You’re returning with another season of Mismatched. Was it difficult for you to pick your character back from where you left it? 

Rohit Saraf: We shot for the first season in 2019, and we shot for season 2 in 2021. It was most definitely very difficult because when we shot for season 1, I was a 22-year-old playing a 17-year old. And that was difficult to begin with. Cut to two years later, we have all gone through a pandemic and I am not a 22-year-old anymore. I am a 24-year-old who is continuing to play the same age. So there has been a lot of change in how I look at the character. For example, if I go back and look at season 1, I would not agree with a lot of things that my character did as an actor myself. If I would have been given the same script right now, I would have looked at it differently and performed differently. The story also starts right from where season 1 ended, so it was difficult but also fun.

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I remember how once Mismatched released, everyone was talking about it and about your acting and how good you looked…

We never expected the show to do as well as it did. When we were shooting, we did not realise the gravitas of the situation or the scale of the show, or what it might do to all of us as professionals. We did not know that the lifespan of Mismatched will go on for so long and there will be so much anticipation for season 2. The show did a lot for me especially, because people within the fraternity started looking at me differently. 

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Which has been your most challenging role so far?

I don’t think these roles have been very challenging for the simple reason that all the characters I have played so far are urban boys. For me, to be able to dwell into the character was very hygienic. However, the difficult part about a particular character, like Ishaan from The Sky Is Pink, was the fact that it needed me to tap into places within myself that I wasn’t entirely comfortable with. It was extremely challenging. 

What genres are you willing to explore?

The fun part about being an actor is that you get to challenge yourself, which I hadn’t had the opportunity to do so far. I am doing something now that is very exciting, where I am able to play this character who is far from who I am. It has been very exciting and liberating. 

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You once mentioned that you are still figuring out the glamour world. Eight years down the lane, do you think you have a clearer vision of how to navigate it?

I don’t think I will ever be in the position to say that I am now able to navigate this world. The reason is that in these eight years, the kind of challenges that have come my way are very, very different. All these challenges have been a learning experience, and I am able to tackle those situations better now. Eventually, I feel it comes down to how you navigate and learn about yourself rather than trying to navigate the industry. I look forward to new challenges, and I am not afraid of them. 

You’ve created a niche for yourself. Given that there are a plethora of versatile roles coming to actors currently, do you think a young actor like you is getting the better end of the deal?

I don’t think there is a better end to any situation. You said that I have created a niche for myself, but I don’t think I am there yet. I am trying to do something that I am fully confident about. That genre is romance for me. Do I get enough opportunities as a performer? As a human, I would say no, because no matter how many options I get, it is never going to be enough. The kind of opportunities I am getting right now are beautiful, and I try my best to make sure that I deliver. 

Siddhant Chaturvedi said during an MW interview that OTT is not a fall-back option. But platforms are so saturated right now. Do you think it also becomes important for actors to be responsible for the kind of roles they pick up?

I don’t think saturation would be the right word you are looking for here. Coming to being responsible, I think you have to be responsible regardless of the platform since you are catering to a large number of people. Having said that, my definition of being responsible could be different from what other people think. For me, if I think that if something is coming from a place of love, something that is coming from a place of a good heart, and it is not outright disrespecting somebody. As an actor, I also should have the freedom of what I want to do. I think it’s a blurry line. 

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Having no background in films, you’ve come so far on your own. You inspire so many people with your journey. What would you say to a 23-24-year-old who wants to become an actor?

I think it is a lot of pressure when I am asked to give a piece of advice to someone. I would be in the position to give advice only when I have excelled. What advice I have always taken into consideration are two things. One that I will not give up. The second piece of advice was something that my mother told me. She said that no matter where I reach and what I accomplish in my journey, who I am as a person should never change. I think it is very important to stay humble to the people I work with, and I ensure that it remains this way. 

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You’ve been declared as the national crush, which also drew a lot of attention from female fans. What are the strangest things fans have done for you?

I don’t want to disregard and call any effort strange. But I did get a little freaked out when a fan came up to me and showed me that she had my name tattooed on her hand. I got really freaked out. 

What do you think the future of cinema should be, in terms of content?

I think romance as a genre is lost. It is an emotion that never gets old or boring. I am sure there are reasons for it. Film-makers are coming up with different concepts that are real-life based. But in the midst of doing all the action, drama, thriller, love is lost. That is a genre I really want to work in. Romance as a genre needs to make a comeback.

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How do you think you have grown as an actor in all these years? How do you plan to move forward?

I don’t think I will be the right person to answer how I have grown as an actor. The audience or the people I have worked with would be able to tell that better. But yes, earlier, I would be very indecisive about the kind of films I want to do, the kind of content I would want to be associated with. Now, I have become decisive and clear. I now know what I don’t want to do. I also have the privilege to make that decision which I am very thankful for. I still have a long way to go.