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'I had almost become a mechanic...'

Last updated on: June 30, 2017 15:22 IST

'Today, the world has changed. You have to be very persistent.'

'You need to have a talent that is your 'X' factor -- be it in any field.'

Aarambh actor Rajniesh Duggal tells us what his 'X' factor is. 

IMAGE: The rugged look!

Model-turned-actor Rajniesh Duggal is quite excited about his ongoing show, Aarambh.

His seven-year-old daughter prefers to call the show 'Baahubali Aarambh' since it's penned by the Baahubali writer KV Vijayendra Prasad.

A historical drama, the serial showcases the war between the Aryans and the Dravidians. It is directed by Goldie Behl and co-stars Tanuja, Karthika Nair, Tarun Khanna, Vipul Gupta and Tej Sapru. Rajniesh tells Rediff.com's Rajul Hegde more about the show.

Why did you take up Aarambh?

After Wajah Tum Ho, I was looking for a finite series on television. I was getting fan mail saying they want to see me on TV.

When this show was offered to me, I loved the script. It's bigger than films.

Writer Vijayendra Prasad (who wrote the Baahubali films) and the scale they were taking it to were big. The action and the VFX was also big.

My character Varundev is an underdog. He's heroic and has different layers.

The story is so engrossing that it will keep you hooked.

IMAGE: Getting ready for the war. Photograph: Kind courtesy, Rajniesh Duggall/Instagram

Since you play a warrior, what kind of preparation did you do?

My look has been worked on keeping the rawness in mind. He belongs to a tribe that has still not settled down, and is in search for a land that they can call their own.

A lot of leather and natural materials have been used in my outfit.

I have maintained a beard and have not cut my nails for four or six months now. I have been eating with my hands, avoiding spoons and forks.

They have used wigs made of real hair to make it realistic.

I play a warrior, so I have been training in martial arts for the last four or six months. I had to do a lot of exercises like surya namaskara and push-ups.

I know horse riding but for this, I have learnt to ride without a saddle.

Your sword looks very heavy.

The sword weighs 8-10 kilos.

The first day was tough. The next morning my entire hand had cramps.

Even the action guys, who taught me to use the sword, did it with a dummy sword. Then, they would ask me try it with the real sword.

I once asked them to show me with the real one and they just laughed it off, and said, 'You only do it!' (smiles)

IMAGE: Team Aarambh: Rajniesh, Shawn Arranha, director Goldie Behl and actor Vipul Gupta. Photograph: Kind courtesy, Rajniesh Duggall/Instagram

How was it working with director Goldie Behl?

Superb!

It's good that they are making the show in a filmi way. He is making it grand and doing justice to the story.

Any memorable moments while shooting?

We were shooting in minus 10 degrees in Manali, doing body scenes. 

When the camera rolls, you have to pretend it's fine and then say a one-page dialogue! (laughs)

There are a lot of fight scenes between Karthika and me. Once you see it, you will love it because there is war with romance.

You are working with veteran actress Tanuja and Karthika Nair for the first time.

We have been watching Tanujaji for years on screen. It was a dream to work with her.

I haven't interacted much with her but whatever I have, it has been pleasant.

I have worked with her daughter Tanishaa in a film (2011's Be Careful).

Karthika is a known name in the south Indian film industry and it was absolutely fantastic sharing screen space with her.

IMAGE: Rajniesh pecks wife Pallavi on the cheek while their daughter Tiyya makes a funny face.

You have a large female following. How does your wife react to that?

I just hope and pray to God that they are always there. She likes it. She has been with me even before I started modelling. 

What does your seven-year-old daughter Tiyya have to say about your look?

She calls my show Baahubali Aarambh. I told her it's penned from the writer of Baahubali.

I can't show her my horror and thriller films but she knows I have done them. She doesn't like horror.

She's very emotional. She gets so involved that she starts crying. Till date, the only film she has watched is Dangal.

IMAGE: What were you thinking, Rajniesh?

Will you balance films with television?

The audience for my films and for television is very different, so I obviously want to capture both. Why should I leave out any audience?

I will start shooting for my films after October.

I have got offers from regional films as well.

I am open to good films.

I want to do theatre as well because I want to work in all mediums. 

IMAGE: Cycling time with the daugther! Photograph: Kind courtesy, Rajniesh Duggall/Instagram

What do you watch on TV?

I don't watch TV much.

I watch Jhalak Dikhlaa Jaa.

Otherwise, I watch shows on Netflix, sports and news. 

How do you de-stress?

I de-stress by spending time with family and playing sports.

I love cars, so driving also distresses me.

As long as there is music, I can drive even in traffic.

At one point, I had almost become a mechanic because I used to sell car wheel bearings in my father's shop. I also worked for a Tata car workshop, so I know Tata cars inside-out.

IMAGE: Rajniesh on the ramp

You have been a popular face in modelling.

Initially, I did not care about modelling. I did one show because someone had asked me to do.

But after that, I did 80 shows within six months.

When I entered Grasim Mr India, I asked my dad to give me three months. If it did not work out, I would pursue an MBA degree.

But I won the title and came to Mumbai.

Then, Mr International happened. That led to advertisements, music videos and films.

Today, the world has changed. You have to be very persistent.

It's not just about working on the ramp. You can do theatre or TV or do ads.

You need to have a talent that is your 'X' factor -- be it in any field.

If you look at Tiger Shroff, you know his 'X' factor. He is into fitness, dance, action... look at his flexibility!

Today, there isn't a single male model, who is famous, because there are so many. I think after Muzammil Ibrahim, Upen Patel, Sahil Shroff and me, there have been none.

Aarambh will air every Saturday and Sunday at 9 pm on Star Plus.

Rajul Hegde / Rediff.com in Mumbai