Disney+ Hotstar’s upcoming show The Freelancer sees actors Anupam Kher and Mohit Raina coming together for the first time. Backed by filmmaker Neeraj Pandey, the series is based on a book titled A Ticket To Syria and revolves around a man on an extraction mission and a young girl trying to escape death in a war-torn hostile environment of Syria. Kher plays a mentor to Raina’s portrayal of a mercenary.
In an exclusive chat with News18, Kher says that he’s elated to be sharing screen space with the Uri: The Surgical Strike and Shiddat actor and spills the beans on his mother, Dulari Kher’s fondness about Raina that began with the hit television show, Devon Ke Dev – Mahadev, where he played Lord Shiva. “Mohit is my mother’s favourite actor. She loved him as Shiv ji. She would almost place a garland on the television screen, take off her shoes and watch him with a lot of shraddha. And then one day, I decided to watch the show,” he tells us.
Hailing Raina’s portrayal of Lord Shiva, Kher says, “Playing Shiv ji isn’t easy. It’s not just about putting blue makeup on. You also need to have that kind of calmness. His sincerity is very endearing.” He goes on to add that Raina played the part with a lot of earnestness and that reflected in his performance. “Sometimes you play characters and you don’t want to be constantly reminded of that because you think there’s much more to you. But to be able to portray a character that’s larger-than-life and still have people believe you requires your mental state to be in tandem with your acting,” Kher points out.
The Uunchai and The Kashmir Files actor reveals that it was he who had reached out to Raina for a role in The Freelancer and that his experience with him has been nothing short of enriching. Speaking about it, he says, “For The Freelancer, I called him and approached him. He’s very focused and aloof when he’s working. There’s so much to learn from him. I’m fascinated by how he performed certain scenes in this show. I always learn a lot from young actors and newcomers. Their approach is very different and that keeps you alive as an actor.”
But there’s one grudge that Kher holds against Raina. With his signature witty sense of humour, the 68-year-old complains, “Mohit didn’t tell me that he has been blessed with a baby girl for five months. I came to know about it very recently. I didn’t even know that he was married. This is nonsense (laughs)! He’s very private. He should open a private detective agency and nobody will come to know of it!”
Coming back to The Freelancer, Kher states that his preparation didn’t involve reading the book on which the show is based. He explains that the only time he makes an exception and reads a book is when he works on a biographical project. “I didn’t read the book and I wasn’t even suggested. Neeraj gave me the brief for it and the script described it all. But I’m someone who doesn’t read a book when a film I do is based on it unless I’m doing a biopic of someone. In that case, it becomes important to know about them in detail. For other films, the script needs to be well-designed,” he opines.
The Freelancer is all set to start streaming on September 1.