Actor Sharad Kelkar, who has acted in Saat Phere and Bairi Piya, has stepped into the role of Dr Ashutosh after Mohnish Behl quit the daily soap Kuch Toh Log Kahenge on Sony Entertainment Television.
The show, which went on air last October, is an Indian adaptation of the popular Pakistani TV series Dhoop Kinare.
Mohnish Behl quit the show citing health reasons. The actor's sudden exit from the serial is centred on an accident scene. Sources say there will be no change in the original story to suit Mohnish's exit and Sharad's entry.
Sharad Kelkar says he took some time to accept the offer as he had prior commitments. "It seemed like a challenge to me, so then I thought one should go ahead, and I said yes."
He continues, "I did a two-day workshop with other actors in the show. I am stepping into the character's shoes; I am not stepping into Mohnishji's shoes. So I am not going to copy him. He was brilliant in the show and has set a high benchmark but I am set for it."
Mohnish was the face of the show, so won't it be quite a challenge taking it on?
Sharad has no illusions. "Yes, it's going to be tough. I have my own style and attitude when it comes to acting. I hope viewers like me in my own new avatar. I will try to fulfil all the requirements and expectations of people."
About playing an older character, he says, "I am an actor so I have to do any kind of role. I have always played contrasting characters because it's interesting to play challenging roles. I am excited to be part of this show."
Did he speak to Mohnish before agreeing to replace him?
"No. They contacted me only after he decided to quit the show. They approached many actors besides me."
Sharad had seen a few episodes of the show before he signed up, and also the Pakistani episodes. "It's one of the more uncommon shows on TV, a simple story told in a simple way. I heard this show is better than the Pakistani one."
There were rumours that Mohnish was not too comfortable doing romantic scenes, but Sharad says Mohnish is such a seasoned actor that he doesn't think he would have a problem with romantic scenes.
"As for me, I have a romantic image on screen and off. I hope that continues in the show too," he smiles.
Meanwhile, speculation is rife about what prompted Mohnish Behl to leave the serial. He wasn't comfortable shooting romantic scenes with his co-star when his wife was present on the set, goes one version, while another says he wanted a pay hike.
Mohnish dismisses all the speculation. "People enjoy rumours! I left on account of health reasons (severe lower back spasms and pain). The 20 days a month, 12 hours every day and extensions etc and travelling four hours to and from the location... I just wasn't getting enough rest. That's all.
"Sony channel and I have given the same statement, so I wonder who is spreading such stories and who gains from this. Why would my wife have any objection to romantic scenes? I have done them in films. She married an actor and she herself has acted and still acts sometimes, so we both know what acting is. And how can I ask for a pay hike mid-contact?" he asks.