stint on television started nearly eight years ago, but
his claim to fame came only recently with a controversial
rape scene in the Balaji
Ghar Ghar Ki.
Rajeev Paul isn't sitting smug on his laurels though. Success
and recognition has taken a long time coming, and he wants
to savour it as slowly. Plus Channel's Swabhimaan
eight years ago now seems aeons away as he prepares, like
many TV stars, to eye the big screen.
"The best thing about this role (that of Deven Garg in Kahaani…
) is that I'm not an out and out baddie. In fact, when I'm
introduced, I appear to be a positive character and it's
only gradually that my vices surface. It's a challenge to
enact a role that has multiple shades," he says. In
an interview with indiantelevision.com correspondent, Amar,
Paul talks about his life, career and of course, Kahaani…
you trace your evolution as an actor?
Right from childhood, I have been attracted to acting as
a career option, in the same way that other kids want to
be doctors or engineers. Even when I came to Mumbai, I just
wanted to act all my life because it excited me. I believe
I have always been very passionate about acting.
Are you a trained actor?
I have been to an acting school but I don't think an acting
school teaches you many things, apart from boosting your
confidence. There is a huge difference between acting in
an imaginary situation and acting in front of the camera.
Most of my training has taken place on the job. I have been
lucky to have worked with directors who have been very patient
with me and who have actually taught me so much about how
to face the camera and how to move in front of it.
The late Bharat Rangachari and Deepti Naval are a few of
the directors to whom I owe a lot of what I have learnt
I started off, I was portraying a 'goodie-goodie'
image, but of course, this goodness would be laced
with a certain smirk by way of facial expressions
and gestures "
In hindsight, do you regret not having trained in acting?
No, I believe the ability to act is something you either
have in you or don't. I have been lucky to be blessed with
talent that I have nurtured and developed over the years.
In any case, an acting school doesn't equip you so well.
Instead I would recommend assisting in direction or getting
involved in production so that you get to closely observe
what acting in front of the camera can be like.
Do you follow the method school of acting or do you
go by your instincts?
I go purely by my instincts.
Have your instincts ever failed you? Is there a performance
you are really ashamed of?
Well, as TV requires a regular shooting schedule without
too much of a break in between shooting days, one gets to
improve on the performance as the episodes progress. So,
as such I can't think of a performance that really rattles
But yes, there is a vast difference between how I used to
perform seven years ago and my performances today. When
I watch those serials, I do feel a bit sheepish.
actor has an individuality and a natural performance
comes out only when that individuality is not hampered"
How did you prepare for the role of Deven Garg in Kahaani
Ghar Ghar Ki?
From the time my role started till the episode where the
rape scene is enacted, there was a gap of three to four
months or nearly 80 episodes. Moreover, the characterization
had to be gradually built up for the nefarious act, instead
of showing the character as out and out villainous. So when
I started off, I was portraying a 'goodie-goodie' image,
but of course, this goodness would be laced with a certain
smirk by way of facial expressions and gestures. But at
no point of time did I allow the audience to believe the
wickedness this character was capable of executing. Gradually,
towards the buildup to the crucial episode as my darker
shades began to surface, even my dialogue delivery became
quicker vis-à-vis the earlier episodes, showing the additional
energy levels and excitement within. All in all, I'm happy
that the character, albeit negative had other shades that
I found interesting as a performer.
Who are your favourite actors?
I have great admiration for Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh
Khan and Aamir Khan.
would recommend assisting in direction or getting
involved in production so that you get to closely
observe what acting in front of the camera can be
Are there any stylistic elements you have imbibed from
None. In fact, one big advantage of being to an acting school
is that you are always taught to be a natural. Whatever
trait of emulation you show is checked by the instructors
who tell you to be such that other people would emulate
you. In fact, I too have always wanted to carve out a style
of my own.
Does television acting tend to get taxing or monotonous?
Yes, it does tend to get very taxing what with the endless
rush to meet deadlines and can episodes. But I won't say
it's monotonous, because unlike films, which follow conventional
cliches of romantic and action plots and conventional characterizations,
there is greater scope to bring out different shades of
a character and try out new twists and turns in the story
line on television.
Who would you list among your favourite directors?
Rakesh Sarang, who I believe is technically among the best
in the business. I have also enjoyed working with Ajay Goel,
Chitraarth and Anil Vishwakarma.
Have you planned or phased out your career - say you're
going to shoot for n number of days a month or work on n
number of episodes at a given point of time?
My experience in the last eight years has been that
you can't plan your career on TV. I normally like to limit
my shooting days in the month to between 20 and 25, but
there is no way I can be sure it won't exceed these many
days. Also, it's difficult to plan out how many serials
I work on at a time because given the channel vagaries,
often a serial never moves beyond the pilot stage.
What are the factors you consider before taking up a
Primarily, I look at whether a story interests me, secondly,
how interesting my character is and then how important or
central my character is to the story. Of course, money also
plays an important part.
Does TV acting pay well?
Initially it doesn't, but over a period of time, one gets
to demand one's price.
Have you reached the stage when you have started demanding
(laughs) Well, I would like to think I am being paid well.
is greater scope to bring out different shades of
a character and try out new twists and turns in the
story line on television"
On a scale of 10, what would you give yourself in acting?
Four or five. I have improved a lot over the years. When
I started off, I didn't deserve even one.
Are you comfortable with directors enacting scenes and
expecting you to follow suit or do you like to act your
If a director enacts a scene out before I do it, it
really helps because I have a fair idea of what is expected
of me. But again, when I actually perform, I expect some
freedom to be given, because every actor has an individuality
and a natural performance comes out only when that individuality
is not hampered.
Which has been the happiest moment of your career?
There isn't any one particular moment, though I would like
to believe the last eight years have been a very happy journey.