Whenever a star kid’s debut is announced, it manages to grab eyeballs. Fans wait to see what the new kid on the block has to contribute to the table. While most debuts in the recent time have managed to strike a chord amongst the audience, a recent addition to the list is going to be Rohan Mehra. From talking about his passion in life to growing up in Mombasa, Kenya, the Baazaar actor spills the beans about everything from acting, his favourite films to being an accidental star kid. Read on.
The trailer of Baazaar released a while ago and as expected it managed to surprise us. While the star cast of this flick was brilliant, we witnessed a new face in this business crime drama that made a mark already and it was Rohan Mehra. Not the same actor who was a part of Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, but the son of the late actor Vinod Mehra. While most of the times viewers have pre-conceived notions about the debutants’ acting, this time, this young lad has managed to cast his spell as soon as he appeared in the trailer. He looked every bit his part without looking out of the place. What was also surprising was the fact that he wasn’t one bit similar to his off-screen appearance. In real life, Rohan has an accent, looks different and has already started showing signs of a great actor because his bluff has worked.
Ask him if similar was the reaction when people saw the trailer of his debut film and he immediately says, “I didn’t want anybody to watch the trailer of Baazaar and think why was this guy in the film? He just sticks out like a sore thumb. If the film has people like Saif Ali Khan, Radhika Apte and Chitrangada Singh, my goal initially was to match up and belong to the film. People usually pre-empt and think this person is a newcomer, we’ll give him some time. He may not be the best, his voice may sound different, whatever the notions. The reaction to the trailer so far has been flattering. It gives me a little bit of confidence because it the first time people are seeing me on screen and thinking whether I can or cannot act.” He also said, “I wanted to be a part of a film that challenged me as an actor. I didn’t want people to see me as an NRI with an accent. This role demanded somebody who is from Allahabad who’s language was proper. I wanted to be able to do that in my first film so that people could differentiate between me on and off screen. I trained for the dialect and characterisation of the role. My goal was to actually get into the head of the character and think why was he doing what he was doing.”
Talking about the storyline of this flick Rohan added, “The film literally narrates the story of what happens when you meet your hero. This could literally be a film based on cricket and Saif could be playing Sachin (Tendulkar) and me the new guy who comes in and wants to be like him. It is a story that can literally extend to any field.”
I remember I had heard that Rohan was going to make his debut with Baazaar ever since the film had been announced. While I was curious to know who the newcomer was, I did exactly what all of us do. I googled his name and there was a list of things I read up about him. It’s been a while since I had searched for him, a while since the film has been in making. While the film’s release kept on getting pushed, the wait wasn’t easy for the actor. Talking about dealing with the delay, the actor said, “There were a couple of roadblocks. My life has never been in a fast lane. For me, it is about slowly getting to where I want to be. I have learnt to be patient with whatever has been happening. Also, Nikkhil Advani and his sister Monisha Advani and their business partner, Madhu Bhojwani kept assuring me things will happen. I trusted them blindly as they deserved my trust.”
Rohan also added the roadblocks did affect him. “I did think where it was going. I was wondering what would happen when it releases. All those questions did cross my head but I realised that I had to get over it. You cannot indulge too much of those thoughts because what is important to realise is that as an actor, the work happened on the sets, post which is the promotional phase. I could be a spoiled brat, banging the doors and being like, “Oh my God! This is not good.” And obviously, sometimes I did feel like doing all those things but you have to bring all those thoughts down and trust the process and do your job.”
While most of the times star kids have big banners waiting to launch them with a number of scripts in their kitty, Rohan had a different story to tell. “I wish I could sit here and tell you that I had a bunch of offers before I did Baazaar but I honestly didn’t have any offers. The whole thing of being a star kid is interesting for me because I grew up very far away from Mumbai in Mombasa, Kenya for the first 18 years of my life. I was in a place where no one really thought of me as a star kid. They just thought that I was one of the other kids around. I am literally on the edge of a circle on the outside, staring inside it. While the inside has things like Bollywood, the outside has the actual reality of life. I didn’t even know what the term meant until very recently. Before the trailer released, there was never these things about Rohan Mehra making his debut. Let’s all talk about him and get him photographed. A lot of people after watching the trailer have researched about me and then found out that I am Vinod Mehra’s son and that is how I would like it to be. People are now getting to know me for the right reasons. Sometimes I think that, am I the accidental star kid because I do not know what is going on.” Ask him if he missed being around star kids and he instantly replies, “My father passed away when my mother was pregnant with me. My mother is from Kenya, so after six months I was born, I was shipped off to Kenya. All I ever knew was Africa. While we did come to India for holiday once every year, I didn’t know what it felt like being the Mumbai guy. I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything because I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t have any friends from the industry, never went on a film set. In fact, until a year ago, I would go to a Bollywood party if I was invited and no one would know who I was.”
While most star kids grow up with the dream of becoming an actor, for Rohan it was excelling in academics. He was a great student and always had a dream of getting into a good university and becoming an investment banker. “In Mombasa when I was growing up, nobody thought of anything apart from studies and a few sports. When I was growing up, the movie industry for me was something you would go to a cinema hall to watch. I never thought that I’ll really be anything in it. So I didn’t even bother having that dream.” Rohan further revealed that it was later in his career when the art bug bit him. “Eventually, over the three-four years I lived in England, I realised that my passion was in arts, storytelling and music and that’s the path that led me on a journey I am right now.”
Now that the prodigal son has finally returned home, he spoke about how an Instagram picture had changed his fate. “A couple of years ago, I had put up a picture on Instagram and Gauravv (Chawla) the director of the film asked the casting guys to reach out to me and asked me whether I would like to test for a film. They didn’t know who I was back then. I auditioned for the film which was a romantic comedy, more on the lines of what people made their debuts with. I got the film but it didn’t happen. I did have a heartbreak but I did make an impression in their minds. Eventually, I read about Nikkhil sir doing this film Baazaar which was his homage to Yashji’s films of the 70’s and 80’s, which was a two-hero film. So I went up to him and asked him whether he could audition me and he told me, “You are crazy, I am not thinking of a new-comer. Just go away.” He closed the door and walked away into his office. Initially, Nikkhil sir was directing the film and Gauravv came much later. I tried to tell Gauravv and spoke to Monisha ma’am. We tried to put a seed inside his head and eventually, he let me audition for it but told me to do it just as an acting exercise. I did it. There were months between when I auditioned for the role and then I got a call saying we are considering you for it, don’t expect anything. Finally, I got the film.”
While Google spoke about Rohan Mehra, the television actor and Rohan Mehra who was going to make his debut in Baazaar, it also spoke about his affair with Student Of The Year 2 actress Tara Sutaria. Ask him if he is dating her and he clarifies, “That is not true. I am friends with Tara Sutaria. We have been friends for a while. She is actually my neighbour. When I moved here, that’s how I made friends. She is doing a film in which she is looking great and so is the film and I am looking forward to that. I was a little bummed when it got pushed. In term of conclusions what people come up with, it’s an occupational hazard. I am unfortunately an open guy. If I feel something for someone, I put it up. I also am someone who has very few friends, so you will be seeing a lot of those on my Instagram feed.” Apart from Tara, Rohan has a compact group of friends who were on a journey with him when he was filming Baazaar. “She and the other three-four friends I have in Mumbai have been with me on this journey. There were times when very secretly I would show them a still from the film. So they knew what the film was and when they saw the trailer, they were just proud and happy. I think I have the greatest friends in the world. For my film releasing next week, I have five friends coming to Mumbai from different parts of the world to be there with me.”
While Rohan has been away from Bollywood, Bollywood has managed to stay in his life. While growing up in Mombasa, Rohan said that the Kenyan city would have a new Bollywood release every Friday. Ask him his all-time favourites and the newcomer shares quite a varied list. “The first film that ever made an impact on me was Mr Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Khamoshi. The second one was Kal Ho Naa Ho. I am talking like a complete NRI but I am going to just go ahead and say it. The third one was Ram Gopal Varma’s Company. The fourth one would be Devdas and the fifth one was Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs Of Wasseypur.”
Pop the question about what next for him and he smiles, “I do have a couple of things on the table but you know how Bollywood disclaimers are. If I speak about it now, I won’t be there in it anymore. It will be that one interview that made me lose this film. There are a couple of things I am reading and meeting a couple of people.”