Dark, brooding, intense and edgy – this could very well be the description of the typical Mills & Boon hero, but we are talking about our charismatic telly boys. Tall, dark and handsome, these guys are enigmatic, and have got our pretty heroines in a fix! Whether it's the volatile Rudra of Rangrasiya, the bitter Karan of Yeh Hai Mohabbatein, cynical Shlok of Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon, the angry Mrityunjay of Ek Boond Ishq, manipulative Sameer of Main Na Bhoolungi, chauvinistic Samrat of Doli Armaanon Ki, or even the suspicious Akbar of Jodha Akbar, the leads are no longer the good guys with golden heart. They have shades of grey and at times even lean towards black! Yet these Byronic heroes with a troubled and mysterious past hold a strange fascination for viewers, especially the female viewers.
On the edge
"If your hero is edgy and better still, carries a baggage from the past, it gives good scope for a love story," declares Saurabh Tewary, who is producing Rangrasiya. He first made RK of Madhubala edgy, quirky and then took the angry young man to another level with the acerbic Rudra. Viraf Patel who grew his hair long and sports a beard to play the broody Mrityunjay in Ek Boond Ishq feels women like such cagey heroes. "It's like the forbidden fruit for the women," he grins. Yash Patnaik who is producing Main Na Bhoolungi avers that dark heroes always work. "He becomes the epicentre and all the characters around start responding to him. For some reason women love such characters. Shah Rukh became Shah Rukh after Baazigar and Darr," he points out. In fact, even in his earlier serial Junoon – Aisi Nafrat Toh Kaisa Ishq he had a edgy hero in Aditya Redij and currently in Ek Veer Ki Ardaas – Veera, the character of Baldev, Veera's romantic interest started off as the anti-hero. "We had built Veera as the good girl since she was a child, to make the love story interesting, we needed the guy to be rough, rustic and edgy, not a regular hero," he elaborates.
Actors love it
For the guys, it's a challenge to portray these mysterious but dashing heroes. Mohit Malik and Avinash Sachdev play male chauvinists in Doli Armaanon Ki and Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon respectively. Says Avinash, "Every scene is a challenge because Shlok is completely opposite to what I am in real life. I have to think what Shlok will do in a particular situation and then act. He's never in a good mood and there is a lot of roughness in him. People call me sadu on the sets, but I take it as a compliment." For Ashish Sharma it was a challenge to project the angst, the fearlessness and the desolate look in Rudra's eyes. "It's important to believe in the character, to get into the depth and connect with the pain," he says. Vikas Manaktala aka Sameer finds it difficult to justify the wrong in his character but loves it. "I don't like the stereotypical villain and believe that every character has a justification for his behaviour," avers the actor who went from good to completely bad in the serial. Then there's Karan of Yeh Hai Mohabbatein. You could be forgiven if you think Karan Patel is actually bitter and cynical just like his namesake in the serial. However, Karan clarifies, "It's a fantastic opportunity to play this role because I am genuinely not like that at all. The best part is when people tell me they understand and sympathise with the character."
Getting into the pysche
While all the actors agree that it's interesting to portray such intense characters, they are also unanimous about it taking a toll on their personal lives. Mohit would become cranky and moody after the shoot and snap at everyone on the sets. "I didn't want to talk much at home too and kept to myself," admits Mohit who has now joined a dance class to unwind. Ashish listens to music and reads a lot of books to get out of the character and simmer down. Viraf jokes that he has employed a therapist on the sets "in case I lose the plot!" "Seriously, it's when people around ask you to chill and cheer up after the director's said cut, that you realise how strung you are," says Viraf who admires Leonardo Da Capri for his edgy role in Inception. Vikas had an interesting experience. So disturbed was his landlady with his villain act, that she refused to renew the lease of her house. "It was my good track record in the society that helped me win the landlady and continue," he smiles.
What an attitude!
In a scenario dominated by women, these lone wolves stand out. Says Kshama Rao, an avid TV viewer, "When all the action on TV is women-centric, it is refreshing to see men like Karan and Rudra who are unapologetically imperfect. You also get to see good looking men with distinct personalities and an attitude." And, with more such heroes on the anvil like the arrogant Shaurya of Ek Hasina Thi, men on TV are getting deliciously complicated!