I Did Not Understand the Charm of Swabhimaan, Never Took its Success Seriously: Rohit Roy
In a career spanning 25 years, Rohit Roy has essayed roles ranging from the lead to supporting and even villainous, proving his versatility both on the small and big screen. Over the years, he has ventured into direction, acting on stage, and is now exploring the OTT space as well.
However, the kind of hysterical popularity garnered by Rohit's character Rishabh Malhotra in his debut TV show Swabhimaan still remains unparalleled. The show ran between 1995 and 1997 on DD National. It was written by Shobha De and directed by Mahesh Bhatt. Rohit is overwhelmed by the response from today's generation towards his character.
"I believe it is available on YouTube, and people are rediscovering the magic of Swabhimaan now. I can't believe it. My Instagram is flooded with messages. I never understood what people liked so much. Earlier there was no social media. I would get letters written in blood and I used to be so scared of reading them. Now on social media, they're commenting on why Rishabh Malhotra is the way he is. I never went into that," Rohit laughs.
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He was most recently seen as part of one story in the five-episode web series Lockdown Rishtey that is streaming now on MX Player. He plays the role of a husband who is forced deal with the issues in his marriage while being locked up at home with his wife.
“My character is that of a typical husband who's probably, stationed outside the city, who travels a lot. There are little issues in his marriage, which are part of any modern-day relationship or marriage. The lockdown is always shown as a struggle and a challenge. But in my particular story, you actually see that a challenge can sometimes also end up positively... There is a silver lining to every dark cloud, let's say that this pandemic and lockdown has been the dark cloud, and this story will probably provide the silver lining,” he says.
The entire series has been shot remotely from the actors’ homes during the lockdown, which was a challenge for many. But Rohit had help from his actress wife Manasi Joshi Roy. “I had to listen to a lot of daant from my wife, who is the true blue actor in the family. She was she was not only reading the camera, but was also directing me. It was a bit of a challenge to be told what to do after so many years, but your wife has the right to tell you what is right.”
Rohit voluntarily gives Manasi, his partner for over 20 years, the credit for being the better actor between the two. “She has acting experience right from the time she was 16. I don't have that kind of experience. I've never done that much theater. When we disagree on how a particular character should be played, Mansi wins hands down, because she is distinct in each character. Me? Not so much,” Rohit elaborates.
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The two have collaborated in the mini-series Locked in Love, about the highs and lows of relationships, depicted in 5 different stories. Shot and released during the lockdown, this series is also available on MX Player. “The idea for this was born out of two actors being locked up together. We also have a production house so we could do this,” says Rohit, who has also directed the series.
Despite having worked in films like Plan, Shootout at Lokhandwala and Kaabil, Rohit says he is more interested in telling human interest stories. “I am not so big on action or thrillers,” he says. But he does pull off action roles in style, we point out. “You will get to see me in an action role again in Mumbai Saga, which will hopefully be out in December or January. Most of the work is done, we are filming one song which will be done soon.”
The actor-filmmaker has been dabbling in various platforms in the past year. “In 2019, I was probably the only actor in the world who was on film, television and theater at the same time. I was filming for Mumbai Saga, I was shooting Sanjivani (TV show), I was doing a play called Unfaithfully Yours, as well as shooting for a web series for Vikram Bhatt. God is kind. He did not make me a superstar of the country, but he gave me enough worthwhile talent that I can dabble in almost everything. My true love still remains behind camera, I am most comfortable donning the cap of a director. Acting is something I do to burn my kitchen fire,” Rohit explains.
How difficult is it as a maker to get your stories on to some platform? “Nobody has asked me that question. The biggest challenge is selling an idea to an OTT platform or a television channel or a producer of a film, that this will work, because nobody can say what will work. But they have enough market survey and research to make them comfortable about what might work, and your idea might not be in the same paradigm,” Rohit says.