Nakuul Mehta: “Leaving TV behind is a preposterous idea”


Nakuul Mehta has had an almost three-year run on Star Plus’ ‘Ishqbaaaz’ before it came to an end earlier this month after a generational leap. The actor bagged many an award for his performance as Shivaay Singh Oberoi and then his son Shivaansh, even when the audiences weren’t entirely happy with the way the track was heading. caught up with the actor post the show’s end to talk about his take on the social media “movement” the viewers showed both before and after the leap and what his next steps could be.

From June 2016 to March 2019 – ‘Ishqbaaaz’ has come to an end. How do you feel looking back at this almost three-year period?
It feels like end of an era. Anyone who has been a part of this journey, physically or by being avid consumers of it would probably agree with me. I have loved every single day of this journey. It has been magical and there are so many beautiful memories I take back from this journey.

I usually equate success not by commercial or critical rewards alone. To me success is directly proportional to effort invested and I can with my whole heart validate that I put everything I had in it and can say that for every cast and crew member on the set. That is real tangible victory.

The show has won so many awards along the way, including the ones you’ve bagged for Best Actor. Why do you personally think the character of Shivaay was loved so much?
With last week’s win at the Indian Telly, one feels the career grand slam has been achieved. Tennis aficionados will know what I mean. But to be honest, my greatest reward is the love and respect one continues to get from people all over.

Just last night, Jankee & I were leaving a restaurant after our dinner when this elderly lady got up and came to talk to us on how much she admired me as an actor and that the family misses watching Ishqbaaaz. I have seen that gradual shift from the last show to this one. With Pyar Ka Dard there was a lot of love and gratification from audiences all over but with Ishqbaaaz it has also turned into respect and admiration.

My gut is that his badass attitude & his style, him being the protector yet being the emotionally vulnerable softie is something, which makes SSO the character, it became. It also wouldn’t be the character it is if it weren’t for its ingenious makers, the writers, the styling team, the technical crew and my powerful ensemble.

You’re active on socials and you will have, undoubtedly, seen the unhappiness about the show’s leap, which also saw a change in the majority of the cast. At the time you didn’t express anything but is there anything you can say now about how it made you feel seeing that?
I probably would have felt the same if I were the audience. It also validates how beautifully Ishqbaaaz brought audiences world over together. It validates the fact that we made a kick-ass show.

I feel I also have an inherent ability to watch things from a slightly elevated view however attached I may be to it and I could see it meant I had to dig deeper and give it one more throw of arm and put in my best.

Social media can be a great way of seeing instant reactions from people. It can also be grim place at times. How do you always manage to keep things so positive and take it all in your stride?
The world is hard enough. The reason I wanted to be an artist in the first place has always been that I have wanted my work & my being to be able to give people hope. Hence social media to me is an extension of that same pursuit.

I also realise that in a lot of ways, social media has also given people a voice but how you express it depends on your own life condition. If one is unhappy and is suffering, this space will be used to vent. A few years ago you would have no one to share this with keeping the anonymity which social media gives you intact.

However there are million other people out there using the same platform to spread love, compassion and taking on life with humour. I am certain that if I cant use the medium to create value, have fun or reciprocate the love one gets, it has no space in my life.

Is there any one memory you have since you started shooting in 2016 until now that you think defines the entire ‘Ishqbaaaz’ journey for you?
At the end of it all, you are the relationships you have built along the journey and I am very proud of having met, learnt from and hopefully inspired a few amazing people along the way.

You wrote a note to Shivaay when you moved on from him to Shivaansh. If you could write a note to a future character you would like to play, what would it say? (And what would that dream character be after Adi, Shivaay and Shivaansh)
I think I missed writing one to Mahi which possibly was one of my most favourite characters I played on Ishqbaaaz. We can make a brand new show with him headlining it and it would be a smasher!

Can you ever see yourself making a transition to the OTT platforms and leaving TV behind?
Leaving TV behind is a preposterous idea. Television is too powerful and beautiful a medium considering the reach it has to even think otherwise. It would be lovely to experiment with mediums now more than ever however television will always have my heart.

You are a producer too and have already delved into OTT, platforms which seem to have taken Indian entertainment by storm in recent years. With ‘Ishqbaaaz’ ending, should we be ready to see something new along those lines?
Absolutely. The intent definitely is to be content creators and I am working alongside my partners (Ajay & Alekh) on that front. Might be early to speak about it but Timbuktu is definitely looking at creating out of the box original work.

Shivaay and Annika had quite an impact on the audience, as you know. Surbhi Chandna (who played Annika) mentioned when in London that she would like to work with you again and no doubt you wouldn’t say no! Could it be a possibility that you collaborate on something again, do you think?
One hundred percent. I am pretty certain we will collaborate together in the near future and I look forward to that project, whenever it happens.

And finally… will you be taking a break now – perhaps one of those epic holidays you always post photos of to make everyone jealous – or will you be diving into your next project straight away?
I am definitely looking forward to a well deserved sabbatical. It has been three solid years of work and I strongly feel the need to find a new self before I can bring something new to my audiences. thanks Nakuul Mehta for speaking with us.

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