Karan Wahi Reflects On His Journey From Remix To His New Law Drama

If you were a teenager in 2004, chances are you religiously followed an Indian TV show that called Remix on StarOne, which could be best described as Gossip Girlmeets High School Musical in India. It followed the life of mainly four 12th grade students from an elite school called Maurya High.

And that’s when we were introduced to an 18-year-old Karan Wahi as the brooding Ranveer Sisodia, who hailed from a small-town in Rajasthan and had made it to the elite school based on his merit and a scholarship. His soft boy persona mixed with the attitude of a bad boy had many of us discovering the world of fictional and celebrity crushes for the first time ever.

Two decades later, Karan has become a mainstay on the silver screen. Not only has he been playing pivotal roles in TV dramas like Channa Meraya and SonyLIV law drama, Raisinghani vs Raisinghani; the actor is also frequently seen anchoring reality shows like Indian Idol and Nach Baliye as well as turning contestant for Fear Factor: Khatron Ke Khiladi. The 37-year-old has also dabbled in some projects on the big screen, and so, it’s not an exaggeration to say that only a handful actors in the industry have careers as varied as him.

We had a chance to chat with Karan recently and he candidly spoke about everything from how fate played a big role in making him an actor to his distant relationship with fashion. Read on to know more about journey from Remix to Raisinghani vs Raisinghani.

In Conversation With Karan Wahi

HELLO!: Can you tell us what drew you to acting in the first place?

Karan Wahi: “Nothing drew me towards acting. I am an actor by chance. My producer spotted me in college in Delhi and they offered me a show (Remix). Without any thought, I came to Mumbai with the prospect that I will probably act for a year, enjoy and go back. I never happened to go back. But, I never wanted to be an actor... I thought this experience would look good on my resume for some time.”

H!: But then Remix became huge! I think a lot of people of my generation followed the show very religiously. Can you tell us how you got cast as Ranveer Sisodia?

KW: “Yes! So, the audition was happening in Delhi and someone had called me after seeing my pictures in one of the agencies. I surprisingly got a callback and I was very reluctant to do it, given that I had never thought about being an actor. After 10 or 12 days, I was confirmed and I had to go shoot in Mumbai. My first producer, Shrishti Arya, just saw something in me and none of us thought Remix would become this huge. We actually began filming for the show a lot sooner than it went on air. For almost four to five months, no one knew what I was doing and none of us were even sure it would ever go on air. But when it finally came, it thankfully became a huge hit… it was rage. I think that’s what drew me towards acting, because suddenly, you become very important to people.

Also, I think 20 years back, I don’t think there were as many opportunities to break into this industry as there are today. So, it really felt like an achievement and I decided to never go back.”

H!: Did you expect to receive the kind of attention and love after being Ranveer Sisodia?

KW: “Honestly, I feel none of us thought anything about Ranveer. I mean, I had no idea whether people would like him or not, rather, I didn’t even know if people would love us individually, or just the show all together. Because there were 13 of us in total and barring one, all were really fresh, we didn’t know how any of this worked. But within two or three months of releasing, Remix became a rave. And I think, it was also because after a long, long time, there finally came a show for the youth. Up until then, we mainly had our Kyukis and Kahanis on TV. But there was no Indian show which catered to the younger audience. But, we all became very popular and we never expected this kind of a reaction. I think it was probably a show that came at the right time for a very, very big chunk of audience who did not have anything to look forward to or to fall back on, on television.”

H!: And are you still friends with any of the cast?

KW: “I am still friends with everybody. We only talk or meet once in a blue moon, because now everyone is in their own world. Some are still working in the industry, others have moved on to different career paths. But, even then, we make that sure that every year, on November 1, we all get together and meet to celebrate Remix’s release. This time, it will be the 20th anniversary, so I’m sure there will be a reunion.”

H!: After Remix, we have been seeing you play the male lead in TV shows ranging from Dill Mill Gayye to Channa Mereya. If you had to pick one, which character has resonated the most with you?

KW: “You know, when you do television, you keep working on a character day in day out. You end up you know putting a lot of yourself in the character and a lot of the character becomes you. This has been the case for, I think, most of the shows that I have done. But when it comes to resonating with someone... I think I would have to pick Sid (Dr Sidhant Modi) from Dill Mill Gayye, because I was as goofy as my character. I was 24 at the time and I was very silly and very similar to him.”

H!: Then, you moved on to doing reality TV shows. What is the one thing you like about them and one thing you hate?

KW: “I think, the instant gratification and the instant reaction of the audience is the part I look forward to the most. Especially, when I’m anchoring and you’re on live TV, everything is on the spot. It has to be instinctive. It’s a different kind of challenge because you have to balance your retakes to keep the audience engaged. So, if I have a great day at work, I get instant gratification for that and I know what was working. But the worst part is that as well, when I haven’t been my best, I instantly know it. But… I also like being on stage and just being myself and not playing a character.”

H!: You mentioned anchoring… Is there anyone in particular you look up to for inspiration? .

KW: “No, because I don’t think you should be taking inspiration from anyone because it will show. Your personality is what will set you apart. When I got into anchoring, Maniesh Paul was a very big name and we loved being able to work off each other’s energy on stage. You do imbibe certain elements out of people that you watch or that you probably work with. But at the end of the day, I think everyone’s a different human being. Everyone will have a different sense of humor. Everyone will have different thoughts and instincts when they’re on stage. So, you can probably imbibe from people a bit here and there. But, I think one should limit taking inspiration to being as as hardworking or as good as somebody.”

H!: As an actor, what’s your take on the OTT boom in India?

KW: “I think it’s great. It’s the best time not only for actors but also technicians, directors and anybody related to this fraternity. It’s a great, great time. There’s so much work out there, so many characters to play! We’re also in a time when being a star doesn’t automatically mean that you will be the most-known organ of a production or if people will even like you.

I think the OTT boom is great. But with it, there’s hundreds of shows coming out every month and out of those, many don’t make the cut. But, those who can make the most of it, will make the most out of it. At the end of the day, it depends on how much you want it and how hardworking you are.

Complacency is another aspect of our fraternity. We can get complacent very soon because a lot of times, we tend to wait for that one character or role which will do wonders for you. I think, you just have to be realistic about whether you want to work or not.”

H!: And can you tell us a little about your latest project with SonyLIV, Raisinghani vs Raisinghani?

KW: “It’s my current project and I was very excited when we began filming because it was a very different format... something new for the web too. It’s a long format and working with friends (like his Dill Mill Gayye co-star Jennifer Winget) is always an advantage. My character, Virat, is someone I don’t think I have ever played. He is not your typical hero, he is completely flawed and real. We’ve been getting a great response and it’s just the kind of project that makes you want to work hard. It plays on your mind even after I come back home. And I think that’s a great place to be.”

H!: Okay, talking of great things, looking on point is a skill that comes easily to you. So, what are some fashion rules that you always follow?

KW: “I am actually the last person on the planet to be doing fashion. I think my fashion is way too simple. I am not the kind of person who will try out a lot of things, I am a very simple t-shirt and denim person. I like my classics. Also, I am somebody who can never shop by myself. I look at mannequins in stores and pick whatever it has on. I am not great with aesthetics… in fact, my friends call me the richest gareeb on the planet. I have the same t-shirt in 10 colours and on most days, I just wear what’s most comfortable.”

H!: So then, who do you rely on for fashion advice?

KW: “I do take advice from friends from time to time, but I end up playing it really safe.”

H!: A lesser known fact about you is that you were selected to play for the U19 Delhi team alongside Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan, but couldn’t go owing to an injury. Do you ever wonder how different your life would be if you had been able to play that championship?

KW: “Not anymore, actually. It’s been a long, long time since I last played cricket. I think early on I probably did think about it, but after Remix, life was so good for me that there was no need to worry about what life could have been. But yeah, back then, cricket was very, very special. I made some great friends… most of them made it really, really big and it’s so much fun to now be cheering them on in their journey.

But if I would have been a cricketer… I don’t know if I would’ve stuck with it long enough to play for the country. Life would’ve been very different. But at the end of the day, it all comes down to the destiny. I’m just very glad I took this decision at a time, which I thought I took in haste at the time. But looking back, it’s worked amazingly well for me.”

H!: And what are you saying HELLO! to this year?

KW: “This year, I am saying HELLO! to a lot of work and a few long-pending vacations. I am definitely taking a holiday with my parents this year, and in general, I have become a very antisocial butterfly, who only runs around in his own house... My version of the lockdown has still not ended. So, I think it’s time to be a little more social than I have been the past few years.

I’ve also been working non-stop and it’s been a great, great year so far. So now, I’d like to make time for things I haven’t been able to do much of — the first of which is a vacation.”