KANAN MALHOTRA tells JYOTHI VENKATESH in this exclusive telephonic interview for bollyy.com and Mayapuri from Umbargaon where he is shooting for the shows Radhakrishna and Devi Adi Parashakti thatnepotism is not restricted only to the entertainment industry
How many mythological shows do you have as an actor to your credit till now?
I have done six mythological shows till date namely Suryaputra Karn, Shani, Mahakali, Ram Siya Ke Luv Kush, Radhakrishn and Devi Adi Parashakti.
What difference do you find when you play a non mythological character and a mythological character?
There is a lot of difference in both, as in non-mythological shows you aren’t compelled to portray yourself in a particular manner, whereas in a social serial, you can always improvise your character and add your own element to it. But in mythological shows, one can’t do that. You need to be in that character only. Also, language becomes a barrier. One has to speak in Shudh Hindi in mythological shows. There’s costume drama in mythological shows too. Whereas, in non-mythological shows, you are free from these things. All said and done, mythological shows are challenging as compared to others.
Does it test your ability as an actor?
It does. These roles are challenging. Mythological shows have fixed template with fixed characters. For example, I am portraying the role of Lord Vishnu in Devi Adi Parashakti, where I have to act in a certain way like Lord Vishnu. Richa Dixit plays Laxmi in the show. Since the audience knows the mythology characters very well, it becomes all the more important to make sure that your acting reflects the mythological character to the fullest. My audience also keeps messaging me on social media platforms. There are times when I receive feedback from them for my role.
Can you share any particular incident?
I had attended a wedding in Delhi. The grandmother of the bride saw me and worshipped me assuming I am Lord Vishnu in real life. She told me that she watches my serial on a regular basis. As an actor these things mean the most to me.
Do you adhere to certain conditions when you set out to play a mythological character?
To be honest, this is our work. To an extent, I can change myself for a character. This is the second time I am playing the role of Lord Vishnu, after. The first time I played the role in Mahakali, I was a hardcore non vegetarian. At that time, I didn’t know I would be offered this role. However, a month after bagging the role, one particular day I randomly decided to stop eating non vegetarian food. It has been five years I haven’t eaten non vegetarian food again. There were no conditions imposed on me. This is something that happened naturally. Actors are advised to not smoke and drink in their costumes on set.
What is it that attracted you to take up the role of Lord Vishnu for the second time?
I have an inclination towards Lord Vishnu. After Mahakali, I studied a lot about him. Initially I did face some issues to portray the role. My co-actor Sourab Raaj Jain had deep knowledge about Lord Vishnu. And whenever one had to think of Lord Vishnu, his name would always be considered. He has been my good friend for the past 12 years now. So, during Mahakali, where he played the role of Mahadev, he would always give feedback on how I can improve my skills. It really helped me. I started studying the character and enjoyed performing it on screen. I understood his personality which helped me.
What happened to your dream of becoming a movie star after Faraar?
I moved to Mumbai 12 years back from Delhi. When I came to Mumbai, I was a novice and got my first film Faraar. Immediately after Faraar, I did Phaans followed by Little Godfather which didn’t work out but I had an opportunity to interact with producer Suneil Shetty, who owned Popcorn Entertainment. Thereafter, I moved to Kochi and did about 98 commercials in one year. I did two Malayalam films too there but in supporting roles. I then decided to move to TV as things were not working out. Since then it has been 10 years of Indian Television.
You made you debut on TV with Chand Chhupa Badal Mein. Isn’t it?
Chaand Chhupa Badal Mein was my first show in 2010.Then I did Apno Ke Liye Geeta Ka Dharmayudh. Then I did Rab Se Sohna Isshq which was shot in London for 3 months. I also did Aaj Phir Jeene Ki Tamanna Hai, followed by several mythological serials including Suryaputra Karn
How have you grown over the years as an actor?
I have learnt a lot of things as an actor. I have gone from being a nervous, shy actor to someone who not only understands the role but also portrays a role just as it is supposed to be. When you work on one craft for long, you learn new things and eventually understand new things and explore your own selves. I can say this because I see the growth in myself. I have gone from zero to who I am today because of the hard work on language, and performance. As an actor, I have grown manifolds and I am sure that I will grow more with more experience.
How different is acting in movies different from acting in TV?
There is a very huge difference. In the movies, the audience expects subtle and light acting from the actors where as in television a little bit of loud acting is expected. The other difference is that after a new comer’s movie is made and is released, it takes a lot of time for the actor to understand if he has made a place in the industry. Whereas in television, the response and results are faster and the actor can easily understand if the audience is accepting enough or falls by the wayside.
What do you think went wrong with your debut film Faraar?
I think the story line of the movie was a little archaic and also we failed to understand this then. We also faced a little financial issue due to which the movie directed by ac tor turned director Santosh Gupta didn’t fare as big as we anticipated.
How did you get the break in modelling?
I did a crash course with Kishore Namit Kapoor’s Academy and after 6 months of auditions, I got a call by a company to share the screen with Shah Rukh Khan for an ad and that was the first time I faced the camera. Then I went on to do ads, movies and shows.
Which according to you are your 5 best TV shows?
Rab Se Sohna Isshq, Suryaputra Karn, Mahakali — Anth Hi Aarambh Hai, Apno Ke Liye Geeta Ka Dharmayudh and Radhakrishn.
Do you regret that you couldn’t make it big in the movies?
Honestly, there is nothing like regret. I have come from a place where I knew nothing about acting. Everyone dreams of becoming a film star but TV has given me so much that I am really grateful for. I would still like to do movies but I just believe that from the place I came from, wherever I am right now is also a big achievement considering I had no God father or friends from the industry and whatever I did I had worked hard for it.
Would you say that nepotism plays a very big role in TV too, besides films?
I don’t think nepotism is restricted only to the entertainment industry. I think it is prevalent in all industries. Yet on the other hand it’s absent too. With the recent incident of Sushant’s suicide, since there isn’t any conclusive statement or confirmation about the cause of why the step was taken, we can’t point out to an individual or individuals. But by looking at people’s conversations they try to link one thing to another without knowing the exact reasons. There could be multiple reasons behind a certain incident and we can’t boil it down to only one without having a clear understanding of the facts.
Which are the directors in your wish list as far as cinema is concerned?
I want to work with Sanjay Leena Bhansali at least once in my life. I would also like to work with Rohit Shetty and Yash Raj Films.
Who are your favorite actors?
Irrfan Khan was my favorite actor and I really like Deepika Padukone because of her class, her performance and beauty.
What is the main reason that you have such a clean image so far?
Before I came to Mumbai from my home town in Delhi, my father wrote 365 on a Rs. 100 and said it was like a contract of letting me do what I wanted to in that one year. If on the 366th day, in case if nothing works out I’d have to go back to Delhi and join my father’s business. That is how I came to Mumbai and started my journey with complete focus with no distractions. I work with the same passion and dedication even today.
Where do you see yourself in span of 5-10 years?
In today’s situation we don’t know what’s in store for us tomorrow. Whatever has happened till now, I’m happy with the journey that I have covered on my own merit. God willing, I aim to become more successful.
Your name- Kanan seems to be a South Indian name. How come?
It is an interesting story. Before my father was married, he visited a temple in South India where the panditji pointed out to three idols one of them being Kannan. Kannan has two meanings, one Lord Krishna and other being dense forest. He really liked the name and that’s when he decided that if in the future, he has a son, he would name him Kanan.
In what way has the shooting schedules changed because of Corona?
There have been drastic changes on the set. There are fumigation machines where we walk inside, get sanitized and proceed ahead. They sanitize every 2 hours, even our rooms for that matter. Everyone has masks, PPE kits and only one make up man is allowed for one shoot, who handles everyone. So, we ideally do it on our own. They are maintaining hygiene levels like never before and everyone is maintaining social distance at all times. They are very few combination shots unless the script demands for it unlike earlier.
What do you think about the channel Dangal TV?
It’s a new channel and is doing very well for itself. They did a show called Naagin that did very well. Thereafter, Devi Adi Parashakti took the baton forward. Before the lockdown it was the number one show. We have now started shooting again and we hope it becomes the No 1 channel too.
What shows are you working on?
I am doing Devi Aadi Parashakti for Dangal TV and Radhakrishn for Star Bharat. Both are being produced by Swastik Productions. Till date I have done only mythological shows with them.