Rohan Mehra plays Ibrahim in Class of 2020. (Photo: Rohan Mehra/Instagram)
Vikas Gupta recently launched his latest high school drama titled Class of 2020. A sequel to Class of 2017, the ALTBalaji show stars Rohan Mehra, Chetna Pandey and Nibedita Pal among others.
Rohan Mehra, known for playing Naksh in Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, has made his digital debut with the show. In an exclusive conversation with indianexpress.com, the 29-year-old opens up about his latest project, matters of the heart and more.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
Tell us something about Class of 2020.
Well, firstly it's the longest web series with around 30 episodes. This is a first in India. It's a completely youth oriented drama, which most youngsters in the audience will be able to relate with. I play Ibrahim, a bad boy with a heart of gold. All this while, I have played goody characters, so this role challenged me. Also, I have tried smoking for the first time for the show and even attempted kissing on screen.
You are also flaunting a well-built physique in the show. Was that the character brief?
Honestly, after doing so many television shows, I wanted to try different things. I wanted to move out of the chocolate boy image. That's when I started working out, and it took me two years to change my physique. While it was not a brief, it did eventually help me as it added a new dimension to the character. He is a casanova, and girls are crazy about him, so we wanted to have him look drool-worthy.
How interesting was it to go back to school?
Like everyone, I also believe that school is the best time of one's life and it never comes back. So I was fortunate that I could relive my school days. Most of the actors on set were young, fresh out of school and college, so it was an amazing time for all of us. Aamir Khan and Tiger Shroff in their movies (3 Idiots and Student of the Year 2) have played students, so it's always a great genre.
What was the on-set vibe with so many young people together under the same roof?
We shot for six months and really became close friends. Since I was a senior, they gave me a lot of respect. I also got to learn from them. We would indulge in a lot of fun, and even party hard after the shoot. We actually felt like we have been together for ages.
As you mentioned that you smoked and even kissed on-screen for the show. Was there any kind of apprehension on your part?
There were a lot of apprehensions. We have seen how most of the intimate scenes on the web platform are cringeworthy. I was not sure until I met Vikas Gupta. He made me understand that it would be shot aesthetically. Also, since it's a school romance, everything will have its own innocence. And I am happy that my trust paid off, as most people said that it's looking cute rather than cheap.
And what was the reaction of your girlfriend Kanchi Singh?
Kanchi has been very supportive. She was with me during the narration and knew everything from the start. She was actually the one who told me that as actors, we need to grow. These things shouldn't hold us back from taking up good roles. Also, the web is a medium which sells reality, so these things are normal.
Most actors prefer keeping their love life quite secretive. But both of you have been quite open about your relationship. Was it a conscious decision?
We both believe that when you are in love, and it's real, why hide? Also, today, trends have changed. Earlier people felt that your fan following will get affected if you are dating. However, now, even married actors get good roles and the same amount of love from fans. So it's all a myth and I am happy that things are finally changing.
What's up next? Do you want to go back to television?
I am doing a lot of things now. I starred in a number of music videos, which received positive feedback. I recently also attempted comedy with a SAB TV show, and I will soon star in a film with Kainat Arora, which is a horror-comedy. Along with the audience, I am also enjoying this transition. But I love television. I like the feeling that what you shoot today, goes on air the next day. Also, whatever fan following I have is all thanks to my serials. However, I want to do something concrete, and not just be a prop. The issue is that I still fall under the youth category and there are very limited roles for me. All said and done, I am open to all kinds of work in any medium.
Lastly, your season of Bigg Boss (season 10) had the calmest lot of celebrities. However, this time there's so much aggression on the show. What's your take on Bigg Boss 13?
I think in our time, the makers picked calm celebs and commoners, who could push them up the wall. This time, it's quite a different scenario but that's what's working for them. The show is getting high ratings and is talked about a lot. I watch the show every day and really enjoy Shehnaaz Gill's antics. She is very cute and entertaining.