TV heart-throb Rrishii Kaushik lets it rip
- Published 15.01.18
He came riding his mean machine, a Harley-Davidson Fat Boy, at the Golf Club Road Cafe Coffee Day on a winter afternoon. Gold ear stud, tattoo, tight tee and all eyes were on Rrishii Kaushik! In the next one-and-a-half hours, the small-screen hottie — currently playing Rono in the television show Kusum Dola — opened up to t2 about his passion for movies, money and mean machines...
Mother tongue: Assamese
Real name: Kamakhya Kingkar Kaushik
Studied at: Tezpur High School; Tezpur College
Lives in: Jadavpur
First break: Ekdin Pratidin (Zee Bangla) in 2005
Weight: 75 kg
Is that bike the love of your life?
Well, I have been passionate about bikes since childhood. I used to ride my Baba’s Bullet when I was in Class VII. This Harley-Davidson Fat Boy is my dream bike (points at the bike parked outside the coffee shop). I had a Royal Enfield Thunderbird before this. Baba’s Bullet is still with me. I have travelled the most on it, been to many places like Leh, Ladakh, Goa, Sikkim and Bhutan. It gives me a huge adrenaline rush and I love riding on the highway.
And are you always so fashionably turned out?
I don’t have much knowledge about fashion! I just make sure whatever I wear goes with my persona. Nowadays everyone is well groomed and well turned out. Everyone goes to the gym. I hit the gym very early in the morning. I have a comfortable call time (for Kusum Dola on STAR Jalsha, in which Rrishii plays the lead character Rono, a tough cop). I think I became conscious of fitness a couple of years ago. I am a rice eater. But last year I tried the Keto diet and that really helped me lose weight and get in shape.
You have a huge fan following on television but you seem to stay away from the spotlight...
I have always been casual about my professional status. I don’t do PR to get work, I don’t go to events or promotions, I am not a party animal. I would rather call my friends over and spend the evening chatting away or cooking mutton curry for them.
Quite refreshing to come across an actor who is not self-obsessed...
Thank you! You can say I am a little like Randeep Hooda! See, he is a very good actor and yet he is aloof. He is never in the news for unnecessary reasons. I’ve heard that he is a passionate horse rider. I, too, love horse riding. I would go to the racecourse to learn horse riding. I also learnt rifle shooting at South Calcutta Rifle Club. But I am a little introvertish.
What’s that extra ‘R’ and ‘I’ in your name for?
That’s numerology. I believe in it.
You’ve been playing the male lead in daily soaps since 2005. What does it take for a TV star to sustain himself for so long?!
Television is a confined medium and the characters in daily soaps are confined too. There’s no scope to show your extracurricular activities, even if you have talent like driving, swimming, horse riding. The characters I have played so far may have a career, but they are either a protective husband or the doting lover boy.
Daily soaps mostly revolve around two people falling in love. Television viewers don’t want to see anything else. Serials on other subjects don’t garner good TRPs. People write on social media that every daily soap looks the same. Arrey but they are watching all that toh! I will give you an example... everyone loves biryani, so serve them only biryani nah, why take the risk of serving pulao?! Everyone has a USP. If you feel that I am almost the same character in every serial you, have to consider it my USP. Type sells. If I can bring in business by playing the lover boy or the doting husband, then what’s wrong in it? I am happy seeking the easier way out!
So do you think the man of the house in Bengali soaps hasn’t changed much?
I can only speak for myself. I don’t get the time to watch other daily soaps. Post-Ekhane Akash Neel (2008), I used to get offers to play a very serious guy, someone who is always angry, talks less... very similar to my character in Ekhane Akash Neel, where I played Dr Ujaan Chatterjee, a no-nonsense doctor. I think that works for me.
There might have been scope to experiment if I were a filmstar. I would have got the scope to be much more than the man of the house. Kusum Dola is my fifth serial. Ekhane Akash Neel and Ishti Kutum each ran for two-three years. So you can imagine I was playing the same character for so many years.
With only five serials, including Ekdin Pratidin and Mukhosh Manush, I have spent a decade in this industry, playing only the gombhir, serious guy. You may ask if I fear experimenting? I would say it’s not fear, it’s a conscious decision because even Amitabh Bachchan, the biggest star in India, played similar characters for 20 years. There’s no shame in being stereotyped. If you don’t get the time to create an image, how will you break it?
Does television allow an actor to break out of the mould?
Daily soaps are centred around a family with different characters — Baba, Ma, uncle, Boudi.... Khub alada obhinoy korar scope kota character-e thakey? Senior TV actors call television “pet kati medium”! Meaning if I just wear the coat it’s enough, the trouser isn’t visible most of the time! Small screen is small screen. How many people know me as Rrishii Kaushik? Now I am known as Rono. Earlier I was known as Dr Ujaan.
Do you get offers to do films?
I do, but honestly speaking I feel what I am doing is better than doing those films. I had played a villain in Kranti and rickshawallah still tell me, dada apanar Kranti boita dekhechilam! (Laughs) The film had released 11 years ago. But serial-e kon scene-tay bhalo acting korlam, nobody remembers. I have never got a good offer for a film.
What kind of films will you say yes to?
I believe in masala movies. I have never bought a ticket to watch a non-mainstream film. I love watching Salman Khan films or a Ranveer Singh, Ranbir Kapoor film. Look, I am paying Rs 200 from my pocket; I don’t want to go and watch a film that will make me scratch my head and think what the film was about. No.
I like watching films where the hero enters riding a horse and shoots the villain and marries the heroine! My favourite movies are Sholay, Golmaal, Hera Pheri, Main Hoon Na and Om Shanti Om. A film is never over if it has no happy ending. I remember watching Sanjay Dutt films where he would enter riding a horse. A film hero is above the normal human being. If everyone becomes a boy-next-door, then people will stop fantasising about the hero!
You know parallel films korle ki hoy? Naseeruddin Shah lives in a flat and Amitabh Bachchan has two bungalows! Shoja katha. It is always better to cry inside a BMW than on a cycle! Think about it! So better to be rich.
Are you rich?
I try to be. I can afford to have everything that I need and wish for, so I am rich.
Tell us about Debjani, your wife...
Debjani is an engineer and works at IBM. She gets offers to do mega serials and has briefly starred in Hiyar Majhe, Chokher Tara Tui and Kojagori.
Dream destinations on your bike: Samarkand in Uzbekistan and Afghanistan.
A line that you live by: Die with memories, not dreams!
A book you read often: Rhonda Byrne’sThe Magic.
My fave movies?: Sholay, Golmaal, Hera Pheri, Main Hoon Na, Om Shanti Om.
Romantic film heroes who have influenced you: Akshay Kumar, Mithun Chakraborty. They are all self-made, so.... Also, Shah Rukh Khan.
Games you play on your iPhone 7: Candy Crush Saga and Soda Crush.
One question you want to be asked and the answer would be: What’s your opinion on art and commercial films? The answer would be: They will never merge. Masala movies have a star cast with aura and stardom. Art films, anybody can do!
Pictures: B. Halder
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