Exclusive: ‘Taj’ Actors Aashim Gulati & Sauraseni Maitra On Playing Historical Characters, Challenges Of Working In Magnum-Opus | Web Series News

New Delhi: Akbar, Salim, Anarkali, the tale of unrequired love, battle between father and son is something that has been adapted many times in cinema and television. So, what is unique about ‘Taj’? As lead actor, Aashim Gulati (Salim) says, “Taj is so much more than the love story. It is a tale of Akbar’s search for the rightful heir of the throne, among his three sons Salim, Murad and Daniyal.” After a successful season 1 ‘Taj: Divided By Blood’, the popular web series is back for a second season, which explores the darker side of how Prince Salim, an ‘exiled baaghi’ achieved the throne and how Noor Jahan acted as a driving force in his pursuit. 

During an exclusive conversation with Zee English Digital, ‘Taj: Reign Of Revenge’ actors Aashim Gulati and Sauraseni Maitra spilled the beans on what goes into the making of a magnum-opus, how did they get into the skin of the characters and what were the challenges they faced while working on the show. 

Q- The story of Mughals is something that has been adapted multiple times in different mediums be it Mughal-e-Azam or other renditions. So, what were your initial thoughts when the script first came to you and what kind of pressures did you face for playing such larger-than-life characters? 

Aashim Gulati- I feel that our makers have done a fantastic job researching it and I have heard it’s been going on for five years. The script is so well written that half of your battle is already done. My only objective was to make this a lovable and real character, someone who people look up to. So, the journey of making Salim like this has been very beautiful. I just drew Salim the way I thought. I feel that it has been loved by many and I have received compliments like, “We don’t think anyone can play Salim like you did.” So that for me has been a massive compliment. 

Sauraseni Maitra- When you are making a show like this in today’s times, then it is definitely a challenge. When you get to play someone like Noor Jahan, whom history remembers as one of the most powerful women then it’s a huge responsibility. So, I completely relied on my makers for getting into the skin of the character. You have to make it your own. So, when I used to get my makeup and hair done and wear my costume, I was Mehrunissa. 

Q- What kind of preparations did you guys do for the characters in terms of the language or getting into the skin of the character since it’s not a contemporary show? 

Sauraseni Maitra- Honestly, I did not get much time to prepare. I come from Bengal, so I don’t even think in Hindi and Urdu. So, it was kind of foreign to me, so yes, Urdu is very difficult but very beautiful so I would again thank my makers and co-actors for this.   

Aashim Gulati – I did not know how to ride a horse and it was difficult, but I enjoyed it. There was a fair amount of sword fighting and action scenes. Apart from that, when it comes to talking in Urdu, I like Shayri and poetry so that has helped me a lot to understand the text better. 

Q- Did you face any injuries while shooting? 

Aashim Gulati- One time I was having a fight sequence with Murad and he almost punched my nose because he is an action guy. There was another time when I was getting off the horse and got a groin injury which was very painful. I hope nobody gets it. But this is our signing up and we better do our jobs well.  

Sauraseni Maitra– I remember, my character was getting thrashed, and I had to fall on the ground. So even though I had knee pads, we shot for that scene around 35 times and the next morning, I just couldn’t walk. But when you finally see all of that coming to life, it’s worth it.

Q- How did you transition from Season 1 to Season 2? What has the journey been like? 

Aashim Gulati – When it comes to the transition, you have to step into the shoes. There was a massive leap of 15 years so as far as physicality was concerned, my hair grew longer, because I am an ‘exiled baaghi’ which lives in the jungles, has scars on his face etc. So, you got to get into the character and there is a process to it. You put yourself into his shoes and understand Salim’s world. 

Q- Sauraseni you stepped in Season 2, so kind of replacing Anarkali as the leading lady? 

Sauraseni Maitra– I don’t think Mehrunissa ever wanted to replace Anarkali. My character was introduced in Season 1 when Shah Salim saves Mehrunissa and her family. So, she has always looked up to Salim. You see that Salim did not have any greed for the throne, but Mehrunissa knew that he was the right heir. It takes a lot of courage in one person to be the strength of pillar for another person, especially if he/she has been an ‘exiled baaghi’. Also, Jahangir had some 24-25 wives so if she wanted, she would replace them all. 

Q- So Aashim, you are someone who has explored all the mediums right. You have done Films, TV and now web shows! So which medium do you enjoy the most and feel brings the best out of you as an actor? 

Aashim – I have to say OTT has given massive amount of opportunities to someone like me who has come from nothing and is ambitious. But a different side of me would appreciate any platform and put my best foot forward and appreciate art in its purest work and do it with utmost sincerity. 

Q – Sauraseni, you have explored done a lot of work in regional Bengali films, and now you are working in mainstream Hindi shows, so what was your experience of transitioning into mainstream shows and what was the difference you felt? 

Sauraseni Maitra- It, of course, feels lovely when you cater to a wider mass. But when you take up any project as an actor, my job is to prepare for that character and put in my best and honest effort. 

Q- What is your favourite dialogue from the show? 

Sauraseni – ‘Yaad rakhna tum kisse baat kar rahi ho, Mallika-e-Hindustan hain hum.” 

Aashim – “Agar Firdaus zameen par kahin hain, toh yahin hain.” 

‘Taj: Reign Of Revenge’ is streaming on Zee5.  

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