Actor Vivek Dahiya is known for starring in many shows on the small screen. Currently he is seen on StarPlus’s fantasy thriller show Qayamat Ki Raat. He talks to Guardian 20 about his role in the show, the popularity of fantasy genre in India, and how Indian TV hits can be compared with those of the West.
Q. Tell us about your role in the fantasy thriller Qayamat Ki Raat, in which you play a character inspired by the Hulk?
A. There has been a reincarnation leap of 25 years in the show recently, and my initial character Raaj is no more. I am now playing the role of Raghav, a corporate guy. Earlier in the show, I was playing Raaj who returned from the US and was a very laidback kind of person. He was an entrepreneur who had a small business in the US. He was a very practical, pragmatic, family-oriented guy who was an Indian at heart, even though he lived in US. Raaj came to India to say no to an arranged marriage, which his family wanted for him and the story proceeded from there. Qayamat Ki Raat is a fantasy thriller and a story, which will keep the audiences on the edge of their seats.
Q. What were the major challenges you faced with Qayamat Ki Raat?
A. It was definitely a challenge as we haven’t really had many fantasy thrillers on Indian television. This is the reason that a lot of people confuse it for being a horror or supernatural show. Fantasy as a genre is artistic and more imaginative, which makes it very different from many other genres such as love stories or mythological shows etc.
Q. How was the experience of portraying the role of a superhero onscreen?
A. It’s like I’m always looking forward to what comes next. Being the quintessential ideal husband on television is one thing, but playing a vampire or the Hulk gives a different high altogether. It gives a new dimension to my acting.
In the West, superheroes have a massive fan following and in India, too, the younger audiences enjoy such roles. I’d like to believe that we’ve hit the right chord and know what’s working for us. So we’re ready to
Q. How different is this from your previous show Kavach?
A. Kavach andQayamat Ki Raat actually don’t fall into the same genre. Kavach was a supernatural show while Qayamat Ki Raat is a fantasy thriller. The genres, the way the shows have been made, and everything else is very different about the two shows.
Q. What do you think about comparisons between Indian supernatural TV shows and their Western counterparts?
A. It’s unfair to draw comparisons between the two. I don’t think people who love Indian TV shows are drawn to Western shows. It’s a different market altogether. Also, in the West, the magnitude of shows is unparalleled. They are expansive, have bigger budgets, have a set research team and time in hand to make every character work and appear believable. In India, we work on a TRP model, and there are last-minute changes to appeal to the masses, leaving the makers and creative teams less to no time for preparation. But if the viewers are happy and glued to the show, their job is done and that is what all of us are aiming for.
In terms of technology, we can’t really compare India and the West, but we are getting there. Also, we have films like Robot, Baahubali that have put India on the world map. We should continue doing what works best for our audience and us. We can definitely work on a content-oriented model with respect to feasibility.
Q. Do you think that Indian television has opened its doors to new genres?
A. Fantasy is a great genre and the audiences love being on the edge of their seats, waiting to find out what will happen next. I’m glad we are exploring more genres such as these in India, and giving viewers a variety to choose from.
Q. In the past, we’ve seen viewers ridicule television shows that tried introducing supernatural characters. We’ve stood witness to the Internet being flooded with memes on the topic. What is your take on that?
A. Every show has its market set and target audience in place, who religiously dedicate time slots for television viewing. Unless we dramatically go wrong where the audience is not prepared, this doesn’t happen. The makers try to bring in different elements to keep their loyal viewers entertained. When I signed the show, I had my reasons. From comedy to romantic shows, from playing atantric to Hulk and the Mask Man and also Dracula, I’ve done it all. And I personally feel empowered.
Q. You are collaborating with director and producer Ekta Kapoor for the third time. How would you sum up your experience with her?
A. Fabulous! Ekta Kapoor and her production house Balaji are currently ruling television as well as the digital space in India. It’s always a pleasure to work with Ekta, who is a creative genius when it comes to content and she knows not only what content works, but also knows how to market her content very well. This is a win-win for an actor. Ekta is a visionary and whenever I have spoken to her, the one thing I’ve always noticed is that she has a very strong business acumen, which is commendable.
Q. You have said that you’re interested in working with the regional film industry. Tell us about that.
A. Yes, we now have Bollywood remakes of Marathi, Gujarati and other regional films. Such films have become some of the biggest hits. They may not be budget-friendly, but they are definitely high on content. They have a knack of digging out interesting stories from remote corners of our country. I am somebody who believes in being a part of great storytelling, irrespective of how big or small the film is. I want to do diverse roles that are performance-oriented, even if I get to be a part of only two scenes in the film. Regional films have the flavour of India. We are a country of many cultures and every narrative has a different feel. So I am definitely keen on exploring the regional film space as well.