The timeless tale

Sushmita Jha
Sunday, 30 September 2018

Colors is all set to bring the eternal love story of Salim and Anarkali to your TV screen with Dastaane-e-Mohabbat: Salim Anarkali. We catch up with Shaheer Sheikh and Sonarika Bhadoria who will essay the characters

Dastaane-e-Mohabbat: Salim Anarkali is all set to air on Colors from today. Starring Shaheer Sheikh as Salim and Sonarkia Bhadoria as Anarkali, the serial will take you back to the Mughal era to show you that love has no boundaries. Shaheer and Sonarika share their experience of being a part of this show. Excerpts: 

How did the project come to you? And what made you say yes to it?

Shaheer: It’s a dream role for anyone and I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to play the part. I always wanted to to something like this. When the team got in touch with me regarding the character, I was super excited and it literally gave me sleepless nights. You cannot let go of something that gives you sleepless nights. 

Sonarika: I was very clear in my head that after Prithvi Vallabh, I would not go ahead with anything that requires costumes. But unfortunately, that show abruptly ended and it did not do that well. Post that, the team of Dastaane-e-mohabbat got in touch with me. I initially told them that I won’t do it. The hunt for Anarkali was on for a really long time and then finally when they couldn’t find anyone, they requested me that at least I should go for a meeting. So I went and come on, who can say no to such a powerful character like Anarkali? Even though people tell me that I have done so many costume dramas in the past, this is a completely different character and experience. 

Salim-Anarkali’s timeless love story will be made every few years by a new maker. But in an age where relationships are being looked at from a new perspective, do you think it will appeal to the audiences?

Shaheer: I believe love is still the same. The way we look at it today is probably different. Love has always been the driving force for people. You do everything possible for something or someone you love. The love story of Salim and Anarkali is one of the biggest examples for us. He was a prince and was ready to give up everything because he was in love. I feel love still exists and there are people who still value it the same way. So I am sure they will watch the show and like it.

Sonarika: I feel happy endings and love stories attract everyone. I am a hopeless romantic and I would totally go watch or do something which involves love and romance. So I am very sure that people will watch the romance and love this show. I don’t know how much the audience will relate to it since it was a different era altogether and love these days has become very practical and conditional. But keeping all this aside, the serial is a mode of entertainment. I am sure people are going to watch it purely for their entertainment.

How is it different to play a mythological/historical character?

Shaheer: I feel all these characters need a little extra effort. You need to work on your dialect, your stance and body language. You have to take your viewers back in that time and make them believe that this is the real person. So it’s very different from playing a character in a regular daily soap. The whole process is very challenging and interesting and that is exactly why I go for such characters over the regular ones.

Sonarika: I have always been very selective about the characters I play on screen. I am not someone who will cry and cook for my husband and be a part of some conspiracy on screen. I have my reasons for doing period dramas. Every television show starts on a very good note and the moment TRP comes in, the entire show goes for a toss, especially social shows, because they have all the liberty to change the plot according to their convenience. But when it comes to period dramas or mythological shows, they cannot do that. Of course there are drawbacks of doing period dramas too, one has to shoot for 12 to 13 hours in heavy costumes and jewellery, so it’s not an easy task
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What kind of training did you go through to play Salim and Anarkali?

Sonarika: For me, it was majorly Kathak. And I spent a lot of time with a Muslim friend of mine to get a better grasp on Urdu. He gave me poetry books. I read them to get better in language and the tone. 
Shaheer: Urdu was one of the major concerns. I have studied Urdu as a kid, but since I don’t use it in my day-to-day life, I needed to brush up my lessons. 

Do you think it’s a risk to bring history on screen because one needs to be very particular about the facts and figures?

Shaheer: It is very important to do your homework before you present anything on the screen. I think the show has done all its work to the tee. Be it the facts and figures or the dialogues, everything is on point. So I am pretty sure there won’t be anything that will go wrong. 
Sonarika: I feel people just need a chance to make a fuss about anything and everything. We have done our homework and we will make sure nothing offends our audience.

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