ZEE5 series State of Siege 26/11 is based on Sandeep Unnithan's book, ‘Black Tornado: The Three Sieges of Mumbai 26/11’. It stars Arjan Bajwa, Arjun Bijlani, Vivek Dahiya and Mukul Dev in prominent roles and revolves around the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
Arjun Bijlani, who is seen essaying the role of Major Nikhil Manikrishnan, spoke to us, about his character, training process, and much more. Read on.
Firstly, tell us something about your character?
My character’s name is Major Nikhil Manikrishnan. It’s based on Sandeep Unnikrishnan who was martyred during the 26/11 attack. So he was the training officer for NGS Commandos. He was brave, passionate and patriotic. He had so much patriotism and he always wanted to be there for his country. Playing his character is not only an honor but also a responsibility and I consider myself very fortunate that I did this character.
Since you are playing a real-life character in the series, the pressure is also higher as compared to playing a fictional character. So how was your experience regarding that?
I agree that the pressure is high but we had Col. Sandeep Sen who was the second in command of the operation. Under his guidance, I understood how Sandeep Unnikrishnan was. It was a tough job but I just hope I have done justice to the character.
We put in extra time to understand better and to be totally involved in the character and in the show. You got to give it your best shot and you gotta get it right. Yes, I have worked really hard for this one, so I just hope it all falls in place and everybody loves the show.
I think overall people need to know the untold story, how the NSG saved India.
Do you think shooting at real locations helped you enhance your performance as an actor?
Of course, it does. It’s like you’re reliving the moment and everything is flashing in front of your eyes and it’s a scary thought that such a thing can happen and did happen in a city like Mumbai. My college was right next to Taj and we used to hang out in these places. It was very heartbreaking to see something like that. A lot of people lost their lives but a lot of lives were saved also because of NSG and everyone put together.
When you were shooting for the series, did you recall any incident from your experience when this attack took place?
I was at home luckily but a lot of friends were out, a lot of friends were in town so I was calling them and telling them that such a thing has happened. Everyone was worried about their loved ones. Firstly, the news was that it’s all over the city so we didn’t know that it is only in town.
There was a rumor that it’s all over Mumbai, I think my mom wasn’t home so I was very worried about where she was and I was calling her. She was luckily getting home from Andheri.
The series can now be streamed at ZEE5.