This week's First of Many features Hiten Tejwani. In the 63rd edition of our exclusive series, the actor talks about his first major project, Ghar Ek Mandir.
Actor Hiten Tejwani played some of the most popular characters on Indian television in the early 2000s. He was an integral part of Ekta Kapoor camp, starring in Balaji Telefilms shows like Kutumb, Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Kya Hadsaa Kya Haqeeqat, Kaahin Kissii Roz, Kkusum, Kahiin To Hoga and Kkoi Dil Mein Hai.
Later, he also appeared in several films and more recently, some web shows like Karrle Tu Bhi Mohabbat, The Investigation and the upcoming Tandav.
So how did it all start for Hiten Tejwani? Here’s what the actor shared:
1. What was your first project? How did it come to you?
My first major project was TV show Ghar Ek Mandir. When you are trying your luck in this industry, you acquire a lot of contacts. I was already auditioning for ads. That’s how I got to know that there’s an audition happening for this show. At the audition, the director of the show asked his assistant to give us the script and let him know who’s good and who’s not. I quickly stood up and almost broke the queue and wore the mic. Everyone liked my audition, even the director. They told me they’ll get back to me, which they did. That’s how I got selected.
I had done theatre, and I thought I’d do films. Television was not really my priority. When I started, TV was evolving. Nobody knew it will eventually become such a strong medium. And when I watched shows, I thought so many actors weren’t doing justice to their roles. I used to wonder why. So, I thought of giving it a shot and seeing for myself what was the reason, and if there were any limitations here. Ghar Ek Mandir was so popular then, that every afternoon you could hear its tune in every household. And all I wanted to do back then was to work.
2. What do you remember of your first day on set?
I was told my character will first be introduced as the friend of the protagonist played by Ram Kapoor. Later, he will turn out to be his cousin. In the screenplay, I was there in good 15-20 episodes.
Ghar Ek Mandir was a multi-camera set-up. I was facing the camera with such a set-up for the first time where you have to reach your mark. If you don’t, then you miss the camera focus and will have to do it again. So they set up such a shot that it’s done in one master, rest in one or two shot or OS. I had a good start. Gogi Anand was a strict director, but very helpful. In one of the scenes, I had to go to a restaurant and break some glasses. He just told me to stay natural, and to go and break whatever I feel like, because my character was angry.
3. Were you nervous? How many retakes did you take?
I was nervous, but it was a great feeling too. My first scene was with Ram Kapoor. By that time, he had already done 100-150 episodes and was completely into the character. I was facing him as a newcomer. After giving my first shot, I asked him if I needed to improve or change anything. He told me as a newcomer I was brilliant. I was so happy. The director was also happy. All of that really helped me gain confidence.
4. How was the rapport with your co-stars when you got to meet or work with them again?
The rapport is still lovely. We are still friends. After Ghar Ek Mandir went off air, I met Ram again while shooting for Kutumb. He was shooting for Monsoon Wedding. He said, “I’m so proud of you. I knew it then that you would do something. You are already a star.” I replied, “Not a star yet, but yes God has been kind.”
5. If given a chance to go back to your debut role, what would you like to change or do better?
My starting was good. The director ensured that I open up right from the very start. So, there’s nothing I’d like to change. In theatre, you do loud acting. In TV, you have to tone it down a little. My acting was already on a subtle level. That helped me get into the natural zone of my character. Unfortunately, Ram got replaced or left it, and hence, the entire story got changed. I also got busy with other shows, so I moved out. But this show did give me a lot of confidence.
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6. One film or role that inspired you to become an actor?
Whichever film did well used to become my favourite. Like that time Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak was a hit, and Aamir Khan was loved. I used to copy his style like his middle-parting hairdo. People used to say I look like a hero, and so I should become one.
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