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"My Biggest Challenge Was To Play A Terrorist"

Actor Mahesh Balraj talks to Bhavi Gathani about his digital debut, Ghoul, and the unexpected response to his character.

What made you choose Ghoul for your digital debut?

I found the concept of this web series amazing. It is not a complete horror story but a thriller-horror. There are very few films that are made in this genre and I didn’t want to miss this opportunity.

How difficult was it to portray this character? How do you prepare for a role like this?

The film is about a ghoul, a sort of terrorist. The biggest difficulty or challenge for this character was to show a terrorist inside me. After that, when prosthetics were used on my face, when I saw myself in the mirror with that make-up, it felt like there was already a ghoul inside me. That helped me a lot to get into the character.

You have done negative and dark roles before. What draws you to these characters?

It is not about being attracted to a negative character. The biggest thing in that is you can break one layer and get into another one, and in reality you are not like that. 

What was the response that you got for playing this character?

The response is very good. I am getting messages from people in France, America and London, praising my character. My friends know who I am as a person, so when they watch something like this, it is not very effective. But after watching this series, they called me and said, “Mahesh, we know you but after watching you in this, we were not able to sleep.”

You said you got messages from various places outside India. What do you think of this wide reach?

In the beginning, when I got to know that now this would release on Netflix, I thought, how will people watch it in my village? When I got calls from them, I was surprised that Netflix ki reach wahan tak hai. It is a big thing today.

Ghoul is a series that has its own audience. Since the horror genre is not widely explored in India, what did you expect from the audience?

Even I am surprised at the unexpected response and people are already waiting for the second season to release. For me, as an actor, every response is like an award.

When you were shooting for this series, how was the atmosphere on set since it is a dark one?

I remember one incident when I became ghoul for the first time. It is the scene where I am standing showing my back. As soon as I turned around, our assistant director who was sitting behind the monitor, screamed. At that time, I felt ki sahi jaa raha hai. I got very skinny for that role.

You have worked in films as well and this is your first web series. What do you find more appealing?

For me, cinema was always a priority and will always be. Digital is a new medium and it is growing, so it is a good thing that I am also a part of that. But cinema toh cinema hai.

Is there anything you are working on currently?

My next film will be Abhishek Chaubey’s Son Chiriya with Sushant Singh Rajput.

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