Rohit Purohit: ‘Learnt about the replacement when I went to sign contract’

01 April,2024 07:27 AM IST |  Mumbai  |  Letty Mariam Abraham

Rohit, who steps into Shehzada’s role in Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, discusses the challenges of joining the hit show mid-way

Rohit Purohit and Shehzada Dhami

After producer Rajan Shahi fired Shehzada Dhami from Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai citing unprofessional behaviour, Rohit Purohit stepped into his role with barely two days' notice. Surely that's not enough time to prep for the role of advocate Armaan Poddar. But the actor claims that years of experience in the television industry has taught him to be ready at a minute's notice. Purohit, who has featured in Adaalat, Chandragupta Maurya, Porus, and Udaariyaan, discusses joining the show mid-way and how he hopes to win over the audience.

Edited excerpts from the interview

How did you land the role?
I got a call from the casting director, saying that Rajan Shahi sir wants to meet me for a new show. When I went to the office, he told me that his new show will be as big as Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai. We did a mock test and they approved it. I got to know I was replacing [Shehzada Dhami] in Yeh Rishta... when I went to sign my contract.

Starting a show from scratch or joining a hit show, which one do you think is more beneficial?
[With a hit show], the audience is already there, as are the expectations. It is challenging because you have to start from where the other actor has left the act. It is difficult to get the chemistry right with all the actors and the unit. But here, it all happened [organically]. They were so warm and welcoming. I have been shooting for nine days now.

How did you slip into the role of advocate Armaan Poddar with two days' notice?
I had jitters, I won't deny that. However, it has been almost 15 years since I entered television. I know my craft, and I had also watched a couple of episodes [to know where the character is at]. I read the script, and the team also narrated the story to me. It was difficult, but it worked out.

While the shift has been largely positive, did you get negative feedback from fans?
Yeah, but that would only be five per cent [of the population watching the show]. The audience connects with the character first, and then the actor. So, 95 per cent of the people who were attached to the character [have accepted] me. I will put in effort and hard work [to win over] the remaining who were attached to the
[previous] actor.

You've done varied roles in the past 15 years. Was that always a conscious decision?
It has been a conscious decision to take breaks and choose [projects wisely]. From the start of my career to Arjun, on which I met my wife [Sheena Bajaj], from Dil Toh Happy Hai Ji to Udaariyaan, I have kept my roles distinct. I have maintained a different look for every character - in Porus, I had blonde, long hair and a beard. In Razia Sultan, I had long, black hair. Now, in Yeh Rishta… I'm wearing glasses.

Why have you not ventured into OTT entertainment?
When I took a break [in 2015], I was trying to get into films and OTT. I even signed contracts for some projects, but then COVID-19 happened. Before Dhadkan…, I had signed a big web show, but that was delayed for a year-and-a-half. Another series that I had signed was shelved. It is very difficult to get into films and OTT once you are doing TV.

Have you faced the prejudice of being a television actor?
Absolutely! They feel that you are overexposed or that you are a TV face. They say that they don't want TV acting. Now, that is something I don't even understand. What is TV acting and TV face? But I'm very happy working on the small screen.

You joined the show under special circumstances. Knowing that you can be fired any day, do you feel the lack of job security?
No, because life is unpredictable. So, I go with the flow. I do my work, go back home and sleep peacefully. All I can do is be grateful to God for giving me this amazing life and constant work.

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