This is a fan essay contributed by Shrushti Oza, a reader.

What does strength mean?

 The ability to be physically strong or the capacity to withstand great force or pressure. One person that personifies this definition for me, who radiates the glow and the warmth of that strength is Kanwar Deep Dhillon. You can find your source of strength anywhere and for me, he is the one. He gives me strength, and inspiration and instils a certain kind of awe that has the ability to push me towards my limits.

 Kanwar has been in the industry for exactly a decade now. He completes his ten-year anniversary in the industry on August 14. From being Kunal from The Buddy Project to Aditya Bhatnagar in Na Bole Tum Na Maine Kuch Kaha in 2013. I have followed him right from the start. It’s often difficult for an actor to be cast in a dying show but after being put on the spot as Vidhaan in Do Dil Ek Jaan (in order to revive its ratings), Kanwar made waves as Bunty in Hum Hai Na. (This is one of my personal favourites), this character was beloved by all to such an extent that for many, Kanwar was Bunty even off camera for quite a while.

Thereafter, Kanwar played Arjun Singh in Piya Rangrezz. The range and versatility that Kanwar demonstrated through this character, further strengthened his popularity.  Later, Kanwar as Shiv Agarwal in Ek Aastha Aisi Bhee was also a beloved character who impressed a lot of people before the show had to be cancelled. However, this character and this name would definitely tie in with Kanwar in the future.

 His roles in episodic shows like Kartik in Yeh Hai Aashiqui, Varun in Halla Bol, Lucky in Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya, Surya in Ae Zindagi, and Sangram in Laal Ishq and in the music video Yaad Baarish Mein, are equally mention-worthy for the unique quality he brought to them.

In 2018, Kanwar received applause and garnered attention for yet another negative role as Samrat Mittal in Internet Wala Love. KD once said that negative roles attract him but he likes to play roles out of the box, roles that are challenging or interesting. It’s one of the things I admire a lot about him. He’s always looking to improve himself and do better. Willing to step outside of that comfort zone unhesitatingly, and unabashedly takes a lot of courage in my opinion. Especially in an industry that tends to typecast artists or spins the same sugar in different flavours. This is why he personally appeals to me.

KD had had experiences of playing both positive and negative characters and although I haven’t had an opportunity to discover them in their full glory, one of the things I can say for sure is how he has improved himself as an actor. It just keeps getting better and better every day. It’s no surprise that Kanwar Dhillon as Shiva Pandya has been winning hearts since his beginning on Pandya Store.

It is not often that you come across a character that is built in a way that touches you to your core. It is not often that you find yourself connecting with a character. More often than not, when we watch a show or a movie, it’s a temporary joy-ride. Very few characters stay with you, linger in your heart & compel your mind to keep going back to them. #ShivaPandya is one such beautiful gem. A character so strong, yet so flawed you can’t help but feel drawn to him. Despite Shiva’s shortcomings, despite his faults or despite his rage, he is the one character in #PandyaStore that continues to shine, brighter & brighter with each passing day.  Above all, it’s because of Kanwar Dhillon’s portrayal. KD brings to Shiva what most others cannot, or could not. I wouldn’t be lying if I said that Kanwar doesn’t ‘portray’ Shiva, he 𝘭𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘴 as Shiva. 

He breathes life into his character, & weaves in so many nuances, traits & details that bring depth to the character. Kanwar Dhillon 𝙢𝙖𝙠𝙚𝙨 Shiva. He stands by & supports him when perhaps the writing fails to back him up, simply by being him.. Through his portrayal, his understanding & his beautiful & phenomenal acting, Kanwar is the pillar that Shiva is centred on. KD is a gem that we perhaps don’t deserve but we need. He steals the show in every shot, every frame and every second he is on camera. Talent & hard work speaks louder than empty applause and his work speaks for itself.

Recently, fans expressed utmost joy and love when his character, who was thought to be dead in the show, returned safe and sound from a life-threatening accident. Thereafter, Kanwar got an opportunity to portray different shades of his character in various disguises. One of the disguises had Kanwar playing a person from the transgender community. Kanwar expressed how this was a challenging and learning experience for him, and how he had a lot of respect for the people in the transgender community. This clearly translated on screen when the episode aired and Kanwar was seen portraying this role flawlessly and with respect. As a fan, I myself was concerned about how it would be handled in the show, but when the episode came out it was nothing short of an outstanding and mind-blowing performance. Following the release of the episode, fans yet again showered Kanwar with their love and respect for his portrayal of Shiva on social media. 

 KD incorporates little, minute nuances and mannerisms in the character of Shiva. Sometimes these little things are what make a character and the actor stand out. Kanwar believes in going the extra mile, spreading positivity and working hard. Kanwar has achieved his place in the industry, step by step, through persistence, determination and commitment. Kanwar who works for 12 hours on set every day, moulded himself into the character of Shiva, despite having recently recovered from an injury. Kanwar sustained a severe leg injury which had him unable to walk for a long time. Unfortunately, he had to back out of a web series he was scheduled to shoot due to this injury. But every missed opportunity leads to another door opening. Kanwar often talks about how important it is to him to maintain a workout routine and stay fit. Over the course of the lockdown, he worked hard on physical therapy to get back on his feet before he landed the role of Shiva. The sort of commitment, strength and resilience that Kanwar embodies inspires many fans like me. 

One of the biggest assets of Kanwar as an actor is his eyes and his inquisitive nature. Every time he is on screen, you can see the wheels turning in his eyes. There’s an intensity, a spark, a natural power of expression that perhaps is one of the things I like the most about him. In Marathi, there’s a phrase where we say someone has “बोलके डोळे” meaning eyes that speak. I think Kanwar possesses that. Another thing about Kanwar as an actor is how he’s always willing to learn and improve, willing to question and seek advice. Kanwar had once spoken about how he was worried about something Shiva was supposed to do in the infamous “Kangan kaand” during the Haveli track in Pandya Store and how he questioned the makers about it, proceeding which he came to understand the reasons for Shiva’s actions through the writers. In a recent BTS uploaded by someone on YouTube, you can see Kanwar asking questions to the director, and communicating with him about certain things or actions Shiva is supposed to do. You can hear him address his director as “Sir”

In another BTS shared by Kanwar’s own brother, Karan you can hear him talk to his friends (who came to visit the set) and explain the camera and how that specific camera is used for specific shots. Often, we only see the man on the screen and aren’t aware of all the ongoings behind the screen. But Kanwar is very open with his fans and shares every aspect of his life with them. Kanwar, an active user of SM, loves connecting with his fans, talking to them and learning about them. This kind of communication, respect and passion for his craft, along with his friendly, charming and kind personality is what I believe, makes Kanwar stand out. It is one of my favourite things about him as a performer and as an idol. 

From Bunty to Shiva, Kanwar has grown a lot. As an actor Kanwar has constantly tried to change & reinvent himself, to fit into or mouldy himself into characters with a lot of dedication and respect. From going to audition as a teenager to taking time off work to complete his final exams, experimenting with different works, taking up different characters and roles, not being afraid of doing negative roles, to being loved and adored as Shiva Pandya- Kanwar has had an absolutely beautiful journey over these 10 years, and as a fan, I am so proud of him. The steady growth and the momentum with which Kanwar Dhillon has won the hearts of audiences is truly awe-inspiring. 

Congratulations on completing 10 years in the industry KD! We hope to continue to see you grow. I pray you to keep reaching new heights every day. 

P.S.: Hoping to see Kanwar dance on screen someday, in a music video or doing (SrushtiOza (Twitter))

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