Thu 30 Nov 2017, 09:42
When he is Donovan, actor and Capital FM host Maqbul Mohammed is probably the most bullied character on local TV. For two years now, he has played Eve D’Souza’s TV boyfriend in Auntie Boss and now in the spin-off Varshita. You see, Varshita and Donovan are two people who should not even be allowed to breathe the same air, leave alone be in a relationship.
To catch Maqbul in action as Donovan, tune in to Varshita on Saturday from 20:30 EAT on Maisha Magic East (158).
At some point in the course of my interview, I liken their toxic relationship to the movie Get Out. Of course Get Out is darker and way more horrific but it’s exactly what comes to mind when you see these two together. Maqbul doesn’t protest, he laughs about it for a second, a hearty laugh that shows just how much he is enjoying playing this victimized character who bears the brunt of Varshita's craziness.
1. How does it feel to reprise your role as Donovan in Varshita?
Well, it’s different from Auntie Boss. We had to go back to the beginning to start the journey on how Varshita and Don met before he traveled to London and then came back. In Auntie Boss, the relationship starts when Don comes back from England. People go through many things in life that shape them so I feel like the person I was in Auntie Boss is totally different because he has different experiences from the Don you meet in Varshita. There is a lot happening and the challenge is fantastic because I had to go back and rethink exactly how he would be in the beginning.
2. What would you do differently if you could play Varshita for a day?
I think I would take some time to appreciate myself and stop looking outward for happiness. It always depends on either Don or the parents to do something nice for her, so that she is happy. I think she just needs to look internally and appreciate who she is.
3. In your opinion, why do you think Donovan stays with Varshita despite her craziness?
A lot of people have asked me that question before, including the producers. But Varshita to Donovan is a mystery; she is something that he has never experienced before. Deep down, away from the influences of his parents, friends and society, I think he sees something that no one else sees. You know how you stay in a relationship and hope that someone will change or that you can change them? That’s how Donovan is.
4. In the real world, what would Maqbul do if he was in a relationship with someone like Varshita?
I would try to fight and persuade her to stop being so insecure and distrusting all the time but at some point, I would just move away.
5. Have you ever watched the show with any member of your family? How do they react to your character and the whole scenario?
My daughter (10) and my son (5) don’t understand what I do. They watch the show and they are like, what’s your problem, what are you doing? For instance, I can’t even tell them about school and then I’m on TV doing crazy things with Varshita. They can’t understand, they just think I’m crazy. My mother doesn’t like watching the show because she feels I’m being mistreated all the time even though I keep telling her it’s just a character. As for my wife, she is in the industry so she is quite supportive but even she doesn’t watch it because she will judge. She watches the show on her own when I’m not there.
6. Donovan has been dating Varshita for 10 years without their parents’ knowledge. The show aside, how long would you date a girl before introducing her to your mother?
In the modern day world and thanks to technology, I think it shouldn’t go past three months. Back in the day, the reason why it took so long was because people communicated less. Getting to know someone was much harder. These days it only takes you two days to stalk them on Facebook or Instagram. I say within three months, you already know so much about them.
7. What is Donovan’s endgame in this whole relationship? He doesn’t seem to be enjoying himself most of the time?
At some point, I would say Donovan wants his freedom because this woman (Varshita) pushed herself on him. But as they get to know each other and their families get involved, there’s a lot more at stake than just a relationship and a woman he can discard.
8. If you were to play alongside any famous actor, who would it be?
I would love to work with John Malkovich, who is one of the most brilliant and amazing actors ever. The other one is Jeremy Irons, a magnificent actor both on stage and on TV. I have a stage background from Phoenix Theatre and I love to watch stage performances. Denzel Washington is also an amazing actor and there is so much enthusiasm when it comes to his roles. He’s the same person with the same facial expressions but he’ll give you different emotions every single time which I think we can learn from as actors.
9. What type of role is a no-go zone for you?
I think for an actor once you cage yourself and decide you are not going to do certain things, you limit your creativity and that’s not exploring your full potential. But the roles that I would love to do most, and a lot of people actually know this about me, are dramatic thrillers, not comedy.
10. If you love thrillers, how did you end up in comedy?
It was quite interesting. When Eve and her business partner Lucy were starting out, she reached out to me and she was like, you have a lot of knowledge in these things, when the time comes, I’d love to have your input. I said yes because I know how amazing she is; when she puts her heart and soul to something, she really does. I’d done a couple comedies before and a lot of people said there was potential but I’d never thought of exploring it until the opportunity came.
Don't forget to tune in to Varshita on Saturday from 20:30 EAT on Maisha Magic East (158).