After Hostages 2 and Tandav, Dino Morea returns to play Shaibani Khan, the evil bad man, in the series, The Empire, which starts streaming on Disney+Hotstar from August 27.
The film is based on Alex Rutherford’s historical fiction Empire of the Moghul: Raiders From the North. Ask the actor what we can look forward to, having read a lot about Moghul history, and he quips, “Watch it for Shaibani Khan, he’s someone you have not heard or read of before.”
Dino looks beautiful and brutal in the show, with his Lochinvar locks, beard and handlebar mustache, as sleek, and unpredictable as a black panther. He admits that while putting together this look, he got a lot of help from his director, Mitakshara Kumar, who got him the right stylists who in turn gave him the layers of clothes he wears.
“Initially, we tried a bald look and went with a prosthetic patch on the head. It looked good too. But then, we tried the long hair, and the instant reaction was, “Wow, this is sexy!” and so, we went with this one,” shares Dino who used a bit of prosthetics to put some scars and marks on his face.
Prod him on how the transition to a bad man happened and he reasons that the negative roles coming his way are juicy and interesting and he knew instantly that they would make people love him as an actor. “It’s not something I went looking for consciously, they just came my way. And as an actor I like to do something which challenges me,” the antagonist asserts.
Was it tough to shoot such an ambitious project revolving around Babur, the founder of the Moghul dynasty, during an on-going pandemic with all the Covid protocols and restrictions? “It was tough, but we pulled it off. Nothing is impossible if you do it properly,” he asserts.
Dino is in peak physical form today, and perfect as Shaibani Khan who fingers his sword menacingly, before bringing it down savagely. He informs he worked out every day while locked in. “It a habit that goes back to my early days. Working out keeps me sane, grounded, focused and disciplined,” he explains.
He also read a lot and with his team, was busy creating new content that he will produce. “We have written two beautiful stories and I have started pitching them to actors. One is an edge-of-the-seat thriller, the other is a romantic comedy,” Dino informs proudly.
Meanwhile, he has finished his next production, Helmet, which was in the middle of post-production when an errant Coronavirus, bringing life to a standstill. The film will be released on Zee 5 on September 3. Earlier, he had produced Jism 2 which was about a honey trap, and now there’s Helmet which is about a problem faced because a man is too shy to ask for a condom. “When my director Satramm Ramani, who worked with me on my first production too, came to me with the idea, I related to it immediately,” says the producer, recalling how when he had just entered college, buying a condom was really tough.
“I would spend half an hour outside the store, then go inside and point it out to the owner or salesperson who would say, “Oh you want a condom,” loud enough for everyone to hear. Many still find it difficult to ask for it when out to buy it which is why I think we need to talk about it more,” Dino reasons, quick to add that there is nothing explicit or vulgar about the film in any way. “It was a conscious decision to tell the story in a nice way. There’s a fine line, you cross it and it would become a sex comedy which I didn’t want at all.”
So, what’s next? “I can’t talk about it till I sign on the dotted line. So, for now, I will shut up before I say too much,” he laughs, but promises that hopefully soon, he will have some exciting news to tell the world.