'I didn't watch B R Chopra's Mahabharat'
Shaheer Sheikh, who shot to fame in the television serial Navya, plays the heroic Arjun in Siddharth Tewary’s Mahabharat.
“I like to take up challenges and this role was one of the most challenging. There was no chance of refusal; it was a lifetime opportunity for me,” says the actor.
“The show gave me sleepless nights but the character of Arjun really attracted me and I was ready to put in my best efforts to play the part to the best of my ability.”
He had to adopt a more disciplined lifestyle, and cut down on outings and food habits. “Playing Arjun has brought discipline into my life. Now I rise early to work out on my body and I keep a check on my diet too.”
He had to work on his body language, stunts and dialect.
“I've learnt ancient ways of combat like cane fighting. I'm also honing my skills in archery, horse-riding and sword fighting.
“Along with this I appointed a Hindi tutor to improve my vocabulary and diction. Though it’s definitely a hard task, I am really enjoying it.”
Image: Shaheer Sheikh
'My dad said since the earlier Arjun was played so brilliantly, I had a huge responsibility to come up to it'
Shaheer didn’t watch B R Chopra’s Mahabharat. He did not want to be influenced by any other interpretation of the character.
“I wanted my character to be as real as possible. I read about Arjun and made a sketch in my mind of the way I look at him. I wanted to play Arjun the way he must have felt in all the situations rather than what has been played already.”
Arjun is his favourite character in the epic followed by Bhishma, Yuddhishtir and Karan. “All of them are very strong but Arjun is as close as a human being can be to God. He is like the chosen one.
“He was so close to Krishna and my favourite moment is when Krishna gives him the Geeta ka gyaan.”
He agrees that acting in this Mahabharat was a risk, “but as an actor I cannot do the same thing always. The majority population of our country is below 25 years and hasn’t seen the earlier Mahabharat, so it will come as something fresh.”
The serial took more than one-and-a-half years to get on the floors, but Shaheer says that was a good thing.
“I wasn’t ready at that time to get into such an important role. I needed time to prepare myself. This phase gave me the chance to ready myself to play the role.”
How did his parents react when he was offered the role?
“My dad told me that since the earlier Arjun was played so brilliantly, I had a huge responsibility to come up to that mark.”
Shaheer is from Jammu and Kashmir. He started his career as a photographer and model but later switched to acting.
And the future?
“I do want to see myself behind the camera some time. Apart from that, I am enjoying my photography stints and as I travel, I get to click lovely pictures,” Shaheer says.
Image: Shaheer Sheikh talks about his character in Mahabharat