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"Modelling is the first step to becoming an actor" - Abhinav Shukla

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Abhinav Shukla chose the small screen as a medium to showcase some of his talent. He is already an established model, but we will now see him as Arjun in the much talked about serial, 'Jersey No. 10', on SAB TV. He is very excited about this chance to act in a cricket-based serial, since he has always wanted to be more of an action and thriller hero, more than a romantic hero.

Q. Tell us something about your role in 'Jersey No. 10'.
A. I play Arjun, whose father is a very good cricketer. His father wants him to be as good as, if not better than, him, and also wants the son to be a part of the Indian Cricket Team. Arjun is therefore a student at the Victoria Academy, training to be a world-class cricketer. He is a good cricketer, but he plays only for himself, with no belief in team work. He plays to appease his ego.

Q. How much like Arjun are you, in real life?
A. Very different, in many ways. Arjun is over-confident, and I am only confident about things I know, like photography, modeling and acting. Arjun thinks he is the best player around, and can do whatever he wants, which is not how I think.

Q. You have not mentioned cricket in your personal life.
A. When I was a student, I was more interested in volleyball. I was a good bowler, as far as cricket is concerned, but my batting was weak. I had no idea I would one day act in a serial based on the sport. I am lucky – I am learning a lot about the game, and I also get to act.

Q. Is that the reason for agreeing to be a part of this show?
A. When I began as a model in 2004, I received a lot of offers from television and movie producers. I did not take these offers too seriously, because most of them were of the melodrama and romance genres. I wanted to do something different, something in which there would be either sports or crime involved. This is the first time that Indian television is doing something like this. Cricket is a religion in India, and, after 'Chak De India', viewers want to see more on sports.

Q. Sachin Tendulkar wears the jersey no. 10 in the Indian Cricket team. Is this relevant to your serial?
A. That I cannot tell you, but the story is not based on Tendulkar's jersey. The most deserving player wears this jersey in cricket. In the serial, both Nakul and Arjun do their best to earn this jersey, and they are both good players. The theme of the story is this – who is the more deserving player?

Q. Models usually go from the ramp to the big screen. You chose the small screen, despite film offers.
A. That was for the big screen, but the banner was small. Also, it was a romantic role. Even if a Hollywood producer offers me a romantic role, I will turn it down, because I know I will not be able to give it my best. I think the story of the film is what matters the most, and the rest just follow.

Q. Tell us a little about yourself.
A. I came sixth in the Gladrags Manhunt 2004. I was the youngest there, at 19. After that, I completed my Engineering, and then participated in the Grasim Mister India contest. I received the 'Best Physique' award. I came in sixth in this contest, too. I have also walked the ramp for the Lakme India Fashion Week and other shows. I have shot for a few ad films, including one with Saif Ali Khan, for Lays; and for the Yamaha Gladiator bike. I represented India in the International Manhunt contest. I am also a professional photographer.

Q. How will you balance between your modeling and your acting?
A. It will be difficult to do too many ramp shows, since this serial is a daily show. However, if I get an offer to walk the ramp for a day or two, then I will have to manage my time accordingly. I love the ramp. I have to dedicate some time for my photography as well. It is natural to get into acting after modeling. Modeling is the first step towards becoming an actor.

Q. Where are you from, originally? Do you have relatives here?
A. I am from Ludhiana. My father is an atomic engineer. My mother teaches Hindi and Sanskrit. My elder brother is a mechanical engineer with the Indian Navy. I am an electronic engineer, and I graduated in 2004. My father, my brother, and I are all technically and scientifically inclined.

Q. If you do not achieve the stardom that you aim for, what is your back-up plan?
A. It is impossible that I will fail as an actor. I have dreamt of nothing but this for the past 24 years, and I have worked towards it. If failure happens, I will turn to direction or photography, since I have a passion for it.

Q. Are you anything else besides this show?
A. I have just signed a thriller movie. I can't tell you more about it, sorry.

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