The lead actors of ‘RadhaKrishn’, Sumedh Mudgalkar and Mallika Singh, share the experience of being a part of a long running television soap
There is something tragic about actors who rise to fame playing the Hindu deity Krishna on screen — the role makes them iconic, and also one of the most typecast artistes in the world. Nitish Bharadwaj, the man who played Krishna in BR Chopra’s late ‘80s TV epic Mahabharat, is an example. With 24-year-old Sumedh Mudgalkar, the case may be different but only time can tell.
The actor plays Krishna in the Star Bharat TV soap RadhaKrishn. The Hindi-language show, which is produced by Siddharth Kumar Tewary (SKT) for Swastik Productions, completed 600 episodes recently.
In an interview with MetroPlus — where he is joined by the female lead Mallika Singh (who plays Radha) — Sumedh says that playing Krishna is “a privilege”. He suggests that it is hard to visualise playing any other character at the moment because Krishna has kept him “occupied so much that I cannot even think about anything else”.
Mallika Singh (L) and Sumedh Mudgalkar (R) while filming ‘RadhaKrishn’
Dream come true
With his grey eyes and boyish looks, Sumedh seems an automatic choice for the role of Krishna, yet that is not how he landed the role. “I had given an audition for a negative character on the show because I used to get similar roles before. So it came as a surprise to me when SKT sir called me for the role of Krishna. I have asked him the reason many times. He tells me that he felt it in his gut that I would be fit for the role,” says Sumedh.
For Mallika, the 20-year-old girl from Jammu, the story is a bit different. Having moved to Mumbai when she was 13, she pursued acting assignments and went to auditions — one of them was RadhaKrishn. It was unlikely that someone with little acting experience to their credit would land the lead role, yet that is what happened. Mallika adds that the production team put her “through many workshops” to chisel her into the Radha viewers see on screen today. “It still feels like a dream to me. But I went with an open mind and kept learning as we progressed through the show. After the first shot I realised that the journey is not going to get any easier,” she remarks.
Both the actors command over a million followers on Instagram, with Sumedh in particular occupying what has come to be known as the ‘heartthrob’ status among millennials. Sumedh laughs at the suggestion. But is not Krishna an unusual role to play in this day and age to achieve that status? The actor implies that the trend has remained unchanged from the late 1980s. “Krishna is someone who is loved by a five-year-old and a 50-year-old,” he says.
Sumedh Mudgalkar in a still from ‘RadhaKrishn’ | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement
However, a contemporary portrayal of the character is required to connect with younger viewers. For this reason, Sumedh adds that he observed the portrayals of Krishna by Nitish Bharadwaj, Sarvadaman D Banerjee, and even one of the most contemporary examples one can provide: Saurabh Raj Jain.
“Everyone has their own set of ideas on how best to play Krishna. Most agree that Nitish ji’s Krishna was the best ever. But I studied their portrayals not only to understand what made them much celebrated but also to know what not to do. There is no fun in playing Krishna if you are not even willing to explore a bit,” he adds.
Both actors remain eager to continue their current assignments given that the TV soap’s popularity has only continued to soar during and post-lockdown. Is the next objective 1,000 episodes? “We will have to see. Let’s get to 700 and then 800 next,” Mallika laughs.
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