New Delhi: He descended on the small screen as Lord Shiva, a role that made Mohit Raina a household name and a phenomenon on television.
Although he has moved on to other things, Raina is still recognised by his portrayal of lord Shiva.
"I'm fortunate to be loved by all age groups. I have made peace with the fact that Mahadev is going to be with me forever. The character had a universal appeal. Each group had their own reasons to be attached to the role," the 35-year- old actor told PTI in an interview.
The actor believes the team of the show hit a jackpot in depicting the beloved god of destruction in a "personalised" manner, something which was never done before.
"I had girls of age 10-12 years come up to me, saying 'Uncle, you look sexy'. Some have called me hot while others have liked my dimples... Making Shiva sexy and cool at the same time was the objective from the outset," Raina.
The actor says it is tough to break out of the mould of a character - be it Lord Shiva or Samrat Ashoka - as once the audience starts loving a role, they start "owning" it.
"I'm not holding on to Mahadev. The audience is. As they see you on TV, you appear much closer to them. They start owning you. I know the pros and cons of this job.
"I cannot shy away from it. What I can do is do different stuff and show them that I am capable of offering them a variety. And I believe I have been successful at it."
Raina will next be seen in "21 Sarfarosh: Saragarhi 1897", a fiction show inspired by the real-life story of 21 brave soldiers of 36th Sikh regiment of the British Indian Army which defended an Army outpost at Saragarhi in the North-West Frontier Province against an onslaught by over 10,000 Pashtun and Orakzai tribals in September 1897.
It is a finite series of 65 episodes. The shooting is expected to be complete by the end of this month.
The subject of Saragarhi has been in the news for quite some time, with actors Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn and Randeep Hooda planning films on it.
Raina, who plays Havildar Ishar Singh in the Discovery JEET show, hopes the team will have a first mover advantage.
"Any character that has a reference or baggage or emotional trauma, I personally feel, leaves an impact. This character (Ishar) he had a point to prove, his is the story of an underdog," he says.
The kind of popularity he enjoys on TV, the next obvious step in his career graph should be films, but the actor says television satisfies his "creative hunger" and financial needs.
"But if I feel the subject of a film will fill in the missing part of the creative person in me, I would definitely go ahead with it.
"I'm meeting people and have some scripts. I have a couple of things I'm working on. I'll speak about them when the time is right."
Of late, Raina has mostly be seen in mythological, historical and period dramas but the actor says he would soon be seen in a different, "more contemporary" avatar.
"First, I had the 'trishul' in my hand, then it became a sword, then it was a gun and now I'm planning to have a bouquet of roses in my hand. I hope that will change people's perception about me," he says.
The actor, who is rumoured to be dating former co-star Mouni Roy, remains tight-lipped about it and jokes that he is in a relationship with "with 20 sardars right now".
"I've been spending day and night with them put up in Amgaon village where we play volleyball and baskteball together. Nobody wants a boyfriend who hangs with so many men and is unreachable through phone."
The series goes on air from February 12 on Discovery JEET.