Playing Cupid

Mohnish Behl

The big fat Indian wedding has made sound business sense for many industries. The latest to realise the money-making potential of the nuptial bond is the television industry. After a few failed attempts at making marriage shows, including one by Madhuri Dixit, the Indian television fraternity has come back with a vengeance. This summer there are at least two big ticket shows being launched on NDTV and Star Plus. The former being Rakhi Ki Swamvar where Rakhi Sawant will hunt for her better half, and, Star Vivaah where Mohnish Behl plays a pivotal role making the two meet.

The show is being co-hosted by actress Additi Shirwaikar. While Monish plays the ‘role’ of an elder brother who helps them understand the key issues, Aditi grills them on softer elements such as love, romance and marriage.

 “I have been married for 17 years, but that does not make me an authority on marriage. I am a normal human being who has had differences with his wife. But we have managed to sort those out because of the understanding we have. I feel, a marriage can last only if there is good understanding and space for each other,” says Mohnish who is married to actress Ekta.

“I feel marriage is a national obsession in our country. Someone somewhere is always getting married in all households,” says Mohnish with a naughty smile. “In this show I am dealing with a lot of human emotions and have a very big responsibility. I am the father of two girls and understand the seriousness of this very well,” says Mohnish whose daughters are 16 years and 4 months old respectively. “I am a very protective father to both. Especially, with my elder daughter. I always ask her about where they are going, what they are doing and so on. I have made it a point to inculcate the culture in her that it is not good to go to a place about which you cannot tell your father,” says the doting father who is bringing the same sensitivity into the show.

In Star Vivah, the producers and hosts are bringing the two parties together, after conducting some basic fact checks. “We are not acting like a detective agency. We are just providing a common meeting ground for the two families. The rest is for them to take forward,” explains the suave actor.

Star Vivaah is also propagating an anti-dowry stance on the show besides taking up a social cause. All participants in the show will be dissuaded from exchanging dowry and will also feature socially ostracised people such as widows, handicapped individuals, divorcees and giving them a chance to start their lives afresh. “This is not a reality show. This is a real show with a cause and intent to help people,” says the actor who was apparently identified for this show because of his earlier characters in Rajashri Films’ movies like Hum Aapke Hai Kaun and Hum Saath Saath Hai. “A market survey was carried out before deciding on the host for this show. And the results tilted in my favour,” says the actor who earned a lot of fame for his character roles in Rajashri Productions’ films. (Though he had played a negative role in Maine Pyar Kiya)

Unfortunately for Mohnish, despite having all that it takes to make a successful hero in films, he never really made it to the top and had to be content with character roles. “I won’t say I am unhappy with what I have achieved in the last decade. In this industry, it is easy to get tagged to a particular image. And once you get tagged, it is almost impossible to get out of that image. For me, it would have been much easier to continue playing the ‘elder brother’ roles that I did in Hum Saath Saath Hai, but I consciously avoided them despite getting many offers. And it did pay off. People are ready to see me in any type of role and I get so many different offers,” says the actor who has an impressive line up of films waiting to be released.

“Rann by Ramgopal Verma is one film where I am playing a TRP-hungry media baron and the main antagonist opposite Amitabh Bachchan. Apart from that Yahoo by Ken Ghosh and Samir Karnik’s Roshan are also on the sets,” informs Mohnish.

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