Actor Shakti Anand is living like a king. We aren’t talking about his real life here but his reel life. He is after all playing Rana Udai Singh (a king of Mewar and the founder of the city of Udaipur in the present day Rajasthan state of India), the father of the valiant Rana Maharana Pratap (a Hindu Rajput ruler of Mewar, a region in north-western India in the present day state of Rajasthan) in Sony Entertainment Television’s Bharat Ka Veer Putra Maharana Pratap (Contiloe Entertainment).
They say that behind every successful man there is a successful woman. Whereas Maharana Pratap’s mother Maharani Jayawanta Bai Songara (Rajshree Thakur) was greatly instrumental in bringing him up as a valiant warrior, his father Udai Singh had an equally powerful role in making him in what he became. Knowing that well, Shakti explained, “Like father, like son, is what they say. Udai Singh was a valiant warrior who fought against the Mughals. He fought many wars. He was a great at sword fighting. He passed on his expertise to his son. Moreover Rana Udai Singh was the first Rajput who started the guerilla war. Before that the philosophy of the Rajput warriors was mar jayenge, kaat jayenge, lekin sir nahi jhukayenge. He was the one who started the innovative technique of surrendering himself and then coming back with a stronger power to win the war. His ultimate aim was after all to win the battle. Maybe he had a weak army with weak soldiers when he lost the war. He would train the inept soldiers, accumulate new skilful soldiers and then re-attack.”
Shakti is full of praise for the research team of his show. “Kudos to our research team! They explained to me minutely on how the role was going to be. I was told as to how my character was to walk, talk, eat and as to what his mindset was. They had described to me as to how I was to tackle the swords.”
And guess what? We were surprised to know that his royal moustache was fake. “I didn’t grow a moustache. To grow this kind of a moustache you take four to five months. This is a fake one.”
Shakti worked out in the gym to enhance his muscular built. He was after playing a warrior king. “I did work on my physique as a warrior has to have a strong physique. To play a king you need chiseled features and strong bones. I had to work on my postures too.”
He did candidly confess that he is yet to master the art of horse riding. “I am not too comfortable with horses. This is the first time I am riding a horse anyway. You have to practice horse riding on an everyday basis else you will gradually forget how to manage it with dexterity. It is like riding a bike. If you keep on riding it, you will have the confidence to manage it. If you are out of practice, you have to ride it for ten to 15 days to regain the confidence. I am trying my level best to learn horse riding.”
Regarding his royal costume, he said, “This is a very heavy costume with plenty of embroidery and jewellery (especially pearls and gold). I am wearing Rajasthani slippers. Even the turban is studded with jewellery.”
The set was sans an air-conditioner. Journalists who were wearing modern day clothes were sweating profusely. We asked as to how he was managing in this sweltering summer heat in such heavy attire. His optimistic reply was, “If I keep on cribbing about the heat I will suffer all the more. So I am enjoying it instead.”
Rana Udai Singh had many wives. Didn’t polygamy complicate things during those days? Shakti joked, “I think that was one of the reasons as to why I had signed the show. Because that is the kind of thing I can’t afford in real life. In the 21st century if you have one wife and then start having an affair too, society will tear you apart. They say that Maharana Pratap had 20 wives and 25 kids. I can’t experience that in real life but it is great to experience the same in reel life.”
He further explained to us yet another reason as to why kings had numerous wives. “That was very feasible at that time to have many wives. Whenever the king would win a war, he would marry the daughter of the king he had defeated. As it would become his in-law’s kingdom, the king would not re-attack his kingdom.”
On a parting note, we asked him as to why he felt that historicals were gaining popularity. “People want to see on screen all that they have read in history books. There are many iconic figures like Maharana Pratap, Jhansi ki Rani, Padmini etc. You know about them but don’t know what moulded them into iconic figures. That is why people tune in to historical shows.”
For more updates on the show keep watching this space.