Indian actor resurrects popular character in web series 'Qubool Hai 2.0'
Karan Singh Grover talks about the joy of bringing back Asad Ahmed Khan after nearly a decade.
Actor Karan Singh Grover loved his character Asad Ahmed Khan from the television series Qubool Hai so much he couldn’t quite let go of him, even after almost a decade. The hit show which centered on a romance between Asad and Zoya Farooqui (played by Surbhi Jyoti) debuted in 2012 and the attractive lead pair was a hit with audiences.
While Karan quit the show at the height of its popularity in 2013 (Qubool Hai ran till 2016) leaving fans shocked, he has resurrected Asad for Qubool Hai 2.0, streaming now on ZEE5. Surbhi too is back as Zoya.
In a Zoom chat with City Times prior to the release of the series, Karan expressed his happiness about the return of a screen character that means so much to him.
“It feels good as Asad is a character that I worked hard on, a lot. The show is very close to my heart - it has been for all these years and still is, so, excited!”
When asked how the characters have evolved since their inception, Karan reveals that the new show features “Asad and Zoya in a brand new world.”
“My character, his family and his back story are the same. Zoya is the same but her family and her back story have changed a little. So we’ve taken Asad and Zoya and they’re in a different universe now. It’s got nothing to do with the 2012 series as it’s a brand new story.”
Opening up on the enduring appeal of the show and its lead characters, Karan gives credit to Qubool Hai creator, Gul Khan. “She is a master at what she does, evolving every day, learning new things, doing different things, she doesn’t settle for a 99.99 she wants the 100; she worked so hard on us and because of her we worked so hard on our characters - you can’t be ‘awesome’, you had to be ‘awesome-est’, then she was happy! So I think the reason the audience connected with us and the show so much is the sincerity and passion towards the work that she had and we had as actors also .”
Did the same crew get on board for Qubool Hai 2.0?
“Myself, Surbhi and my family. Everyone else is new. Gul is the one who had spoken to me about this version of Qubool Hai in the beginning, but by the time we started she wasn’t part of the show. But Mrinal Jha, who is producing the show, was the writer of the previous version as well. We had the same stylist, and the same creative team except for Gul.”
Karan says he approached the idea of shooting during the Covid pandemic with a mixture of trepidation and eagerness.
“We shot in Belgrade, Novi Sad (a city in Serbia) and Mumbai. We flew to Belgrade around December 3 and (I experienced) two emotions - one was that it was a light in a very dark world. You know, that things are coming back to normal. The second was fear because the world is infected by a virus and you don’t want to get infected and bring it back home and spread it to your family. There were a lot of precautions and mandatory protocols to follow and things to do. I did get Covid by the end of it. We had two days of shoot left so I had to stay back extra in Belgrade.”
The pandemic also led to an OTT boom and Karan - a popular television star who has featured in shows like Dill Mill Gayye and Kasautii Zindagii Kay - believes “the move to a digital space was inevitable.”
The focus now, he says, is on “creators, content, audience.”
“Everyone has evolved rapidly and at the same time. I think it’s a wave of evolution that we’re all in; Covid has just forced us to evolve faster even if we didn’t want to, or didn’t mean to.”
Karan admits that this period is a “great time for all creative people.”
“‘People are privy to a lot of international shows as well and are open to a lot of newer things that they weren’t earlier, because, what are you going to do? You can’t go out of the house. You start watching and you have an open mind… necessity is the mother of creativity.”
Despite the convenience of watching content in your own home especially in pandemic times, the actor who has been a part of Bollywood films like Alone (with wife Bipasha Basu) and Hate Story 3, believes the big screen experience (which was hit hard by Covid) is one that cannot be replaced.
“I think content is a different thing and an experience is a different thing. As human beings we have the need to be joyous and sometimes that does not happen inside your own home. It probably happens when you go out and you have the whole experience of the theatre - you buy the popcorn, the soft drinks and you have samosas; it’s a big place where your whole tribe is together. That is an experience which I don’t think has anything to do with content. Not very nice films get made and people go and watch them - the whole experience is enjoyable except for the prices of everything that has gone up like crazy! (Laughs)”
“Content at home, at your own convenience, on your own device, that cannot be matched with the theatre (experience). Because these are people who are doing it for convenience and they have this cerebral need that has to be fulfilled every day. I am one of those people - I won’t be going to the theatre everyday, but yes, I will watch something everyday.”
KSG ON LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE PANDEMIC
“I think this time was given to us for us to kind of connect with ourselves - why we can or cannot spend time with ourselves, what we need to change about ourselves which would in turn change our environment which would in turn change what is happening. I am someone who is quite ritualistic about all the things I do. I have a series that starts at 5am. Everything has taken a deeper meaning for me, my workout, my fitness. A regime is not just external, it’s internal, it’s not just to gain strength, it’s to kind of purify yourself. You get rid of everything that you have carried over from the previous day and you start afresh. I finish my cleaning, I do pujo, then I begin my day. Either I go shoot or I do my painting - I finished about 15 pieces during the lockdown. There’s a lot I can tell you about my art but we will talk about that post Qubool Hai 2.0!”
MESSAGE FOR FANS IN THE UAE
“Thank you for sending us so much love and appreciating what we do and not appreciating what we do sometimes, that’s also okay (laughs). It’s an equation that needs to be balanced. I hope you like Qubool Hai 2.0. We worked really hard on it and had a lot of fun.”