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IPKKND - People Magazine

The Early Years Showbiz was never Barun's first career option. After completing this schooling from New Delhi's St. Mark's School, he began working at just 17 to ease his father Raj Sobti's financial burden. Seven years into toiling at a call centre, he decided to give acting a go on the advice of his friends, including Karan Wahi (Dr. Sid of Dill Mill Gayye), who had already bagged TV shows. At the time, Barun was an Operations Manager with Jindal Telecom and already 25 years old, considered too old for a debut by industry standards. His parents weren't too pleased at the idea of him switching to a career where his future was so uncertain. "I couldn't just leave before making sure that my parents would still be comfortable if my income stopped coming in for a year," he says. Despite the obvious risks, he decided to take a chance. When The Going Got Tough Luckily for Barun, his first role came easy. He landed a part in Star Plus's Shraddha (2008) while he was still in Delhi. But the show took four long months to get off the ground and when it did, its dismal ratings pulled it off air within just three months. With finances drying up, the pressure to find work was mounting on Barun. "My father was getting impatient because whenever I called, he sensed dejection in my voice. He gave me a couple of months more to try and make it," he says. For Barun, it was his poor performance on the show that was most disappointing. "When the show went off air, I didn't cry for a second chance. Instead I told myself, 'You didn't deserve to be in it'." Soon after Shraddha tanked, Barun auditioned for the part of Dr. Siddhant Modi in the medical drama Dill Mill Gayye (DMG). His hopes to get the role were quashed the minute his childhood friend Karan (Wahi) auditioned for the same role. "The producer walked into the audition and finalized Karan without even doing a look test. He felt very guilt," recalls Barun with a laugh. As he went through a series of failed auditions, Barun convinced himself that he didn't have the talent to make it as an actor. "Once after an audition, I was so dejected that I almost gave up." He says. Three months later, Barun got another chance to star in DMG, but this time for another part. On his portrayal of Dr. Raj Singh, a drug addict, he says, "I don't think I did a great job but I loved that character." He finally found satisfaction in his work when he started working on Sony TV's Baat Hamari Pakki Hai (2010). Playing a character that was closer to his real self gave his confidence a much-needed boost. "I played a comic and that's what I've been doing all my lifemaking my family, friends and wife laugh." Rise To Stardom After singing IPKKND in 2011, Barun had his first brush with stardom. His portrayal of Arnav Singh Raizada, an arrogant businessman with a good heart was a hit amongst female viewers.

"Through the show, I realized what kind of mammoth popularity a TV actor can have. I usually don't look around when I'm walking, but I could feel everyone's eyes on me." Even then, Barun didn't take his fame seriously till he was awarded the Best Actor (Popular) trophy at the Global Indian Film and TV Honors in 2012. Thereafter he, won many others, consolidating himself as one of the top actors on TV. But he knew this dream run had to end. The punishing schedules of a daily soap began taking a toll on his health. "I thought I'd die if I continued shooting for over 12 hours a day," he says. While his fans were going hysterical with the news of his exit, the atmosphere on the set was quite emotional. "On my last day, all the technicians and spot boys wanted to hug me. They said they had never seen an actor who was so popular and grounded at the same time. That really overwhelmed me." The Bollywood Dream Contrary to rumours, Barun denies giving up his TV career to pursue Bollywood. Even now, with two films in the pipeline, he's open to doing a TV show when the right project comes along. Film offers had begun pouring in while he was still on the show, but he never considered it a full-time career. "For a non-actor like me, getting even a break in TV was bleak," says Barun, who signed Main Aur Mr. Riight opposite Shehnaz Treasury last February. He hopes his second film, Mitali Ghoshal's 22 Yards, in which he plays a cricket agent, will be the real game changer. "Unlike Main Aur Mr. Riight, I'm not working in double shifts with IPPKND. So if I don't do well in this one, then I'll deserve to have my ass kicked," he says, laughing. MY CHILDHOOD SWEETHEART Barun's earliest memory of his wife Pashmeen Manchanda dates back to when they were in Class 9. She had joined his class after moving in from an all girls' school and since then, Barun has had eyes only for her. "There was a bunch of hot girls that came to our school and Pashmeen was one of them. If she would be standing at the door of the class chatting with a friend, I used to frequently walk past her to drink water," he recalls. As they got closer, Barun knew he had found his life partner, but Pashmeen needed convincing. When she moved to Australia to study finance at the La Trobe University, the couple decided to make theirs a long-distance relationship. "We'd meet once a year and a couple of years, we didn't meet at all," he says, adding, "But I used to love missing her. It was heartening that we were so much in love even though we didn't get to see each other that often." In December 2010, the couple tied the knot in a simple ceremony with just their families in attendance. Barun, who was busy shooting for Baat Hamari Pakki Hai, squeezed a day off from work. "She's very accommodating. But she used to ask me to take time off and I always made sure I got at least one day off to be with her." She's equally understanding of Barun's growing female fan following and the constant controversies. Recently, Barun was bothered by speculation that they were getting divorced. "But when I called Pashmeen and said, 'Do you

know people think we are getting divorced?' she answered, 'Yeah, I think so too. You were supposed to call me five hours back'. That's how cool she is," he says with a smile. MOMENTS OF TRUTH HIS FIRST AUTOGRAPH "We were shooting for Baat Hamari Pakki Hai in Mussoorie and people recognized me from DMG since the show was a hot favourite (see pic, below). I was so awkward signing autographs that the still photographer on the set took pictures of my conscious expression. I always pray that I don't that I don't have to sign autographs because my handwriting is so bad. I try to convince fans to take pictures with me instead."

GETTING MOBBED AT A WEDDING "In December last year, at my cousin's wedding, it got so bad that they had to push me out of the venue. I attended the rest of it sitting inside my car, sneaking a peek at the jaymala and pheras." MEETING HIS IDOL "Sachin Tendulkar is the only person who I wouldn't mind walking up to and telling him what a big fan I am. Once we were in Film City and Sachin was shooting for an ad in the next studio. When he walked past us, Sanaya (Irani) told him I was a big fan. I just ran to the back of my van and refused to come out. I was like 14-year-old fangirl. Sanaya had to stop Sachin thrice before I mustered the courage to shake his hand." CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

At the mahurat of Main Aur Mr. Riight in May 2012. "I've watched the rushes of the film and I think I have done a decent job."
"I think the emotional and romantic portrayal went down well with the audience," says Barun about his on-screen chemistry with his Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon costar Sanaya Irani.

BEING CALLED UNATTRACTIVE

"Very recently, I was on a flight when an airhostess wanted a photograph with me. She asked the pilot to click it and he thought since the engine was still whirring, I wouldn't be able to hear him when he said, "Iski photo leni hai?' (laughs). But that doesn't bother me because the number of people who think I am good looking is far more."

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