PHOTOS: How Mohit became Mahadev!
The protagonist of the popular television serial, Devon Ke Dev... Mahadev, reveals the secret behind his six-pack abs and his choice of career.
His popularity has reached stratospheric heights soon after his serial, Devon Ke Dev... Mahadev, hit the airwaves.
Model-turned-actor Mohit Raina , who plays Lord Shiva in the TRP-busting serial, still finds it difficult to digest the fact that he has a huge female female following who swoon over his chiselled body.
Dealing with another section of his fans proves equally difficult; they see the Lord in him and fall at his feet for his blessings!
But Devon Ke Dev... Mahadev is not Raina's first brush with television. He has played lead characters in two other serials -- Chehra and Ganga Ki Dheej.
Neither, however, can compare to the massive popularity of his latest outing.
Raina tells Rajul Hegde just how he handles his fans' affection, his fame and how he achieved his superb physique:
When did you realise you wanted to become an actor?
As a kid, I was always fascinated with the glamour industry. I wanted fame, name, money and whatever else it had to offer.
I come from a small town, Jammu, so I wasn't sure whether I would make it. At 21, when I realised I could, I set out to make my dreams come true.
What was your parents' reaction to your career choice?
When I told them I intended to travel to Mumbai and become an actor, everyone from the family thought I had gone mad.
The next day, I saw all my relatives' vehicles parked outside my house. I thought there was some family function that I had forgotten about.
But everyone was there to discuss how a family member had gone 'mad' (smiles). That was really funny!
They thought I was a studious kid and wanted me to become a chartered accountant. But I booked my tickets, informed them and landed in the city of dreams.
When was the first time you faced a camera? What did you learn from your first shooting experience?
After (participating in) Grasim Mr India, I faced the camera for the first time for the show Chehra. It was difficult but, over time, I grew as an actor.
Initially, you would not know how to balance or deal with the character but, slowly, you grow with the character and the story.
Image: No points for guessing why Mohit Raina has a large female following.
Photographs: Courtesy Life OK
'Fitness was not even a priority for me'
What is it like being an actor and seeing yourself play those roles, especially Lord Shiva?
It's the most difficult phase of my life because, when you play a god, you have to respect people's belief and emotions; people look up to you.
It has been very challenging as well, but I have been successful to a certain extent (smiles).
The character is popular right now and everything connected with the character is working.
There were times when people would use rudraksh beads to express their devotion. Today, when tattoos are so popular, people get Lord Shiva tattoos done. I guess it's the character that is on everyone's mind right now.
What preparation/changes did you have to make in your lifestyle to play Lord Shiva?
When I met the makers of the show, I knew they were going to do something extraordinary, huge and magnificent.
For me, personally, it's an opportunity of a lifetime!
I had to put on little weight to look like Mahadev. I had to work on my body because the viewers always see my bare torso.
I am a foodie so I had to control myself a bit... that's it. The look really worked for the show.
I feel playing this role has brought in me immense patience.
Have you always been fitness conscious?
After I came to Mumbai; I realised how much competition there was around me.
To be very honest, fitness was not even a priority for me; going for a morning walk was my definition of fitness.
It was only during Grasim Mr India that I learnt about flat abs, strong biceps, etc.
Image: Mohit Raina had to work on his physique for the show.
Photographs: Courtesy Mohit Raina
'Eat right, work out right and sleep right'
What is the secret behind your six-pack abs?
There is no secret. My fitness mantra would be. 'Eat right, work out right and sleep right.' I hardly eat sweets and I've cut down on carbs.
Please share your diet and workout schedule.
I am a morning person and prefer exercising at dawn. I gym six days a week. That involves weight training for four days and cardio for two days.
I make it a point to meditate for 10 minutes before I start work (shooting).
At times when, I am not able to exercise due to my schedule, I compensate by working out on the sets.
I am extremely particular about my diet. Long hours and crazy schedules mean that I have to be extra careful about what I eat.
I rarely have control over my time. There are times when I can't exercise; I don't get the time to sleep and my body does not get enough rest.
But my diet is the one thing that I can control, so I make sure I eat healthy, home-cooked nutritious food.
Please share exercise tips for abs like yours -- dos and don'ts.
First you need to understand your body weight. I tend to put on weight very easily so I have to restrict my diet.
I need a minimum six hours of sleep.
That is what works for me.
I feel sleep plays an important role in your fitness. If possible, one should also take a power nap of 20-25 minutes during the day, which is equally important to stay fit mentally and physically.
You need to know your body better; your eating habits have to be according to your body weight.
Consult a dietician and see what works in your favour.
You are the best person to know your body. With time, you will be able to figure out how your body adapts and what your weakness and strengths are.
You should definitely be involved in some kind of physical activity.
Image: Mohit Raina's fitness schedule includes weight training, cardio and meditation.
Photographs: Courtesy Mohit Raina
'Indians are very emotional and religious'
How would you describe yourself? What's the one thing you remember most about being a kid?
I let people describe me.
I am a simple person.
As a kid, I loved playing cricket with my brother. Somehow, he would never get out and I would keep bowling (smiles).
Which of your personality traits do you consider an asset?
My connection with people and my belief in humanity!
How do you handle the fame?
(Smiles) I think with time you learn to handle it.
You have become very popular after playing the character of Lord Shiva. Would you like to share some interesting anecdotes with your fans?
The audiences have connected me with Lord Shiva; they say whenever they close their eyes to pray, they see me. That is a wonderful compliment.
Indians are very emotional and religious, they need a face to connect with I guess.
There's no particular age group of fans seeking to meet me; everyone loves Lord Shiva. Whenever they meet me, they seem to think they have met a god. They sometimes just look at me or hold my hand or fall at my feet.
Earlier, I used to stop them from doing it but with time I have realised why should I? Why shouldn't I give them that moment they have come for? They feel that they have touched Lord Shiva. So I let them do it.
What's your favourite Shiva story?
When I was young, my father would tell me that putting bel patta and milk on the Shivling brings him closer to us.
Have you read Amish Tripathi's Shiva trilogy? What did you think about it?
Yes. It's an interesting trilogy, that's why it's so popular!
We mostly focus on what is there in the Puranas. Amish's novels are in a different genre where we follow the personal life of Shiva, his connection with his devotees, with his wife, children and his responsibilities as the head of a family.
Image: Mohit Raina in his onscreen avatar
Photographs: Courtesy Life Ok
'Shah Rukh Khan is the Badshah of Bollywood'
What was your first salary?
My first salary was around Rs 4,000, when I was working for Hyundai Motors in 2004.
If you could take up a 'normal' job, what would you it be?
I have never thought about it. Since I am a foodie, I might have opened a restaurant.
Who is your greatest inspiration?
Denzel Washington and Shah Rukh Khan
Which Bollywood actresses you admire the most?
Kajol, Rani Mukerji, Madhuri Dixit and Anushka Sharma are very talented.
And who is your favourite actor?
Shah Rukh Khan for what he is. He is the Badshah of Bollywood.
When are you planning to get married? Are you dating someone?
I don't have time for add that. Right now, I am dating this (pointing at the poster of the show).
Image: Mohit Raina at a recent promotional event.
Photographs: Courtesy Life OK