Shaleen Bhanot in a no holds barred interview…

Shaleen Bhanot has been a power-packed performer, with a knack of choosing different kind of roles every time he comes on-screen!!

Recently, Shaleen has enthralled one and all as the mighty ruler of Punjab, Maha Singh in Life OK’s Sher-E-Punjab: Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

With his role in the above-mentioned daily coming to an end, we at IndianWikiMedia.com talked to Shaleen to know more on his ‘Maha Singh’ journey, on his goals set both on the personal and professional front and much more…Excerpts:

Take us through your journey as Maha Singh in Maharaja Ranjit Singh…      

It was awesome. My role has just ended. I am done with playing Maha Singh. I have felt very good in this knowledgeable journey. The best part about this role was that I had to become a Sardar. I got the chance to speak the lines of Wahe Guruji. It was beautiful for me to learn a different culture. All fans across the globe, especially the Punjabis from places like Amsterdam, California, Canada have been messaging me on Instagram, Twitter accounts, appreciating my work. The kind of response all the Punjabis have given me has been really great. It is a heart-felt feeling when I get compliments like aapne sikhon ka naam roshan kiya hai(you have made Sikhs proud).

How was the transition for you from one big role (Suryaputra Karn) to this one (Ranjit Singh)?

See, both roles have been extremes. I am not a very regular kind of guy. I have never taken shows that are very regular. Just for the fact that I got the opportunity to speak Wahe Guruji’s lines, I took this part. As you know, my stint as Duryodhan in Karn ended just few months back. I was doing the most scheming guy as Duryodhan. And within days, I got into the role of the most positive person in Punjab, that is Maha Singh. So this kick-factor was huge for me. I was apprehensive and scared in the beginning. But the conviction of the Producers made me take up this challenge. I am not a Punjabi, so I had to work on the dialect. All such opportunities help me explore myself as an actor.

I always believe in it that it is not easy to move on. I have loved and it will take time. As of now I don’t see anything else

So how did you master the dialect in quick time?

When I signed the show, I hired a teacher for quite a lot of days. I used to ask him to read my script. I learnt the dialect, and pronunciations. All this was very new and different for me. We used to read for six hours daily. I used to see many Punjabi movies to know more from an actor’s point of view. I went to Amritsar and also to Golden Temple to seek Babaji’s blessings. My only prayer was that I wanted to be blessed to play the role of Maha Singh keeping all the respect and dignity of the character. Now that I have achieved it, I will be going again to seek Babaji’s blessings.

Guess the entire cast and crew of the show lived like a family…

Yes, the cast was awesome. We have had all the fun possible. I will really miss them a lot. I and the boy who plays Ranjit, Damanpreet have had all the fun. Sonia (Singh), Tunisha (Sharma) and I have also had our share of fun. Apart from them, I will miss all in my crew. I usually have great friendship with my crew members. I have spent a lot of time with my costume team, comprising of eight people. It was the first time that I took as much time as a girl would take to get ready for shoot (smiles).

We have heard you have an uncanny knack of remembering lines…

I don’t have the habit of reading scripts. I used to hear the lines and remember it. I have crafted myself in such a way that if anybody reads eight pages, I will remember every line in those eight pages after the first read itself. I have always been like that as far as I remember. But of course, as you progress in career, you keep improving with the experience you get. So you can say that this has come with a combination of experience and talent.

I love my son. Thanks to Daljiet (ex wife), Jaydon is growing up as a beautiful kid. Whenever I see my son, I feel so happy. His upbringing has been very good. I get to meet him whenever I want

How were your final scenes? Emotional?   

Well, a month back, there was the death sequence of another important character, Gurbaksh played by Rumi Khan. At that point of time, his onscreen wife and daughter (Sonia and Tunisha) cried a lot. The ambience on the set was very teary-eyed when Rumi left. In fact, Tunisha came up to me and said she did not use glycerine at all to shoot for her on-screen father’s death sequence. So that was when I told them this is really good; so who will cry for me. This became a joke on the set at that point of time. So all of them knew that they should not be crying when we shot for my death sequence. I had told them that I cannot see anyone crying. So they all smiled for me and held their emotions. This was how the last scene was shot. However, after I left, I got all emotional messages. Apart from this, they called for a huge cake and I cut it. We had fun and it was a happy farewell. See, there are times in life when you need to get emotional. So it is important to hold on to emotions as and where you can.

What are your next goals?

I want to do something better. I have always done that. I need to grow as a person and individual. All this, whatever I do is a medium for me to grow. That’s my goal and next move.

Are you looking at any genre change after playing Duryodhan and Maha Singh?

I have been blessed that I have never repeated any genre. I keep getting different kind of work and that has been happening for 10 years now. I remember when I did Do Hanson Ka Jodaa, that role was totally different from my Sajda one. Now when Suryaputra Karn was a mythological series, Maha Singh was a historic one. I don’t have any preference or say in what I take up. Yes, it has to be lucrative to me in terms of my craft and growth, both as an actor and personally.

I have been blessed that I have never repeated any genre. I keep getting different kind of work and that has been happening for 10 years now

You have earlier been known for your romantic roles. So don’t you want to get to that zone again?

Yes, I am fine with it. I definitely don’t mind it. Romance is something that I have loved doing. Earlier, romance used to be very typical. But nowadays it is very different. It is more real and organic when compared to the earlier times. So I would love to do it. I have done it earlier, can do it again.

What do you think of the digital boom?        

I don’t see my industry as a medium. I only know one thing, whatever the medium is, I have told people that there is no big or small or any preference. I am an actor and I want to entertain my audience and do something nice. That’s about it. There will be a camera always, whether it is the 72mm screen or the 6 inch mobile phone. Whoever is watching it and giving their million dollar smile, it is only important that they get to enjoy whatever they are seeing. Having said this I have no inhibition and I am open to web-series too.

Lot of things have gone wrong in your personal life. So how do you look at life now? There’s always a second chance in love.

To be very honest, I have always believed in the institution of marriage. I still do and I will always do. But for me, right now, that’s not on the cards. I want to do good work. This I say on the personal front too. I have always been involved in charitable work; I don’t mention it anywhere. And I will want to continue doing so in whatever capacity I can. I don’t have any thoughts of marriage for sure.

I don’t see work as work. I have just come back from a jog. I have been eating the same food for 11 years. So work is not like a phase. I have to keep evolving and keep improving, and that is what I will be doing from today onwards

So has your family not forced you to look at life all over again?

Well, I am having a life. I am having a family life and a family (smiles). I always believe in it that it is not easy to move on. I have loved and it will take time. As of now I don’t see anything else.

Having seen all that you did on the personal front, how did you face and overcome all the setbacks?

This entire experience has evolved me a lot. It is not that I was not upset or I was not hurt. I have had my share of things as well. I am a very religious person. Let me tell you, wherever you are sitting at the moment, you might have the AC on and might be feeling cold. That does not change the climate. Wherever I am sitting, I might be feeling hot. That does not mean I am wrong. My truth is for me and yours is for you. If you are true to yourself, true to your soul, nothing bad will happen. When I say this, I actually mean it. Your consciousness level has to be good and sane. And that is what happened with me. I had a lot of faith in the law. I had faith in myself and my conscience was clear. Beyond that, everything is a stress. Stress is nothing to do with good or bad. If you work for 20 hours, you are stressed. It does not mean you are sad or happy. It’s just that you are tired. So beyond a level, all this only made me tired.

So do you harbour sorrow feelings for not being close to your son?

I love my son. Thanks to Daljiet (ex wife), Jaydon is growing up as a beautiful kid. Whenever I see my son, I feel so happy. His upbringing has been very good. I get to meet him whenever I want. I have been shooting in Umargaon last few months. So that’s a different thing. But I meet him when I want to. That’s about it.

What’s the plan ahead?    

I don’t see work as work. I have just come back from a jog. I have been eating the same food for 11 years. So work is not like a phase. I have to keep evolving and keep improving, and that is what I will be doing from today onwards. Also I am too blessed that I don’t have time to take breaks. I am already meeting people. I am grateful to God and my industry and to each and everyone who have been waiting for me to get free. Hopefully, I will sign up for another big show and get back.

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