Candid chat with Praneet Bhatt

Praneet Bhatt, aka Shakuni of Star Plus’Mahabharata,is one actor who does not go along the beaten track. No wonder, when family dramas rule the roost, he yet again went against the grain and took up a historical called Porus.

“It feels sad when mediums like TV lose their power of educating and informing. Today, most shows run only on the single thread of a girl getting married. There is much more to life.”

“Here, I wish to thank producer Siddharth Kumar Tewary, for, he has given my character Darius his due. At first, I was a bit worried if I would get lost between main protagonist (Porus) and antagonist (Alexander).

“Darius was a very powerful Persian emperor who ruled over Egypt, Rome and parts of India. He is the ancient-time equivalent of today’s PORUS. Our show also focuses on the lack of unity of Indian rulers, which sadly continues even today, thereby allowing outsiders to run a mock.”

Praneet goes onto say, “Doing a historical is a challenge, not only creatively, but also physically, i.e. wearing heavy costumes, etc. Back then, a king was known by the amount of jewelry he wore.”

Point out that the ratings of Porus are not that great, and he says, “We can’t compare a historical with a saas-bahu. Our audiences are a more urban-educated lot that wants to know about the past. Sony is also happy with the numbers; so, all is well.”

“Plus, we are not only looking at the national, but international markets as well. Hence, we had to make sure that our production values are world-class. Porus might air in Sri Lanka next. There is a lot of excitement in the Emerald Island about the same. They are aware that had Porus not stopped Darius in his tracks, Sri Lanka also would have been part of the ancient Persian Empire.”

Praneet, who has been around TV for many years, doing shows such as Kittu Sab Jaanti Hai (crime reporter), Arslaan (negative), Geet (normal guy), etc., finally found his calling with Mahabharata. “I waited for a year and half for this Swastik Pictures (they are makers of Porus as well) project to take off. I had to grow a beard, making me looking older. People thought I was making a mistake. But I am glad that I stuck to my convictions. Mahabharata was essentially a conflict between Krishna and Shakuni (my character). I have got a lot of love and respect, thanks to that show.”

Besides TV, Praneet is waiting for the release of his Hindi-Punjabi film, He-Man. “You will see me singing and dancing. It has been delayed for a while, because our producer, Mr Abis Rizvi, was killed in the terrorist attack in Istanbul, early last year.”

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