Joined: 01 December 2004
Man of the Moment
His sauve personality, intense eyes and sincere performance as Sujal Garewal in the teleserial Kaahin To Hoga has catapulted him to fame and won him a horde of female fans. Meet Rajeev Khandelwal who says he's a bit dazed by the sudden prominence he has gained, which also means rising expectations and in turn, more responsibility...
n the sets of Ekta Kapoor's daily soap Kaahin To Hoga in the far-flung Goregoan suburb of Mumbai, Rajeev Khandelwal is shooting for the episodes to be telecast a fortnight later. His cell-phone keeps buzzing constantly, and the newcomer that he is, he responds to the calls diligently. As he gestures us to sit, we hear him talking to a journalist of a publication which has misquoted him. Clarifications over, he says, "I have been quoted as saying things which I never said. So I am a bit upset, but then I guess I shouldn't let it bother me."
We are about to begin the Q & A session, when the mobile buzzes again, and this time it's a female fan who wants to play a guessing game with him. Rajeev indulges her for a moment, but then firmly says, "Lady will you tell me your name and what you want. I am quite busy and really can't talk to you at length." The terse but polite line works, and the fan disconnects. "I don't know how people have got to know my phone number. I am beseiged with calls and SMSs from strangers," he reveals. The female strangers must surely be outnumbering the men, right? "Well, yes, and you do feel flattered. It works wonders for your ego. Sometimes it can cause you inconvenience, but I don't want to be rude. They are calling me up because they like me," reasons the actor.
So does Rajeev feel he has arrived? "No way," he states, "Yes, I have made my presence felt, but this is just the beginning. I have a long way to go. I have struggled to come this far, learning things the hard way. So this success is the initial fruit of my labour. But I have bigger dreams to be fulfilled."
Hailing from Jaipur, the land of forts, with his father and brother serving in the Army, Rajeev lets us know that films were always on his mind right from the time he could think for himself. "My parents found it a bit odd that I wanted to pursue arts and aesthetics, but I was sure," he recalls, "While in collge, I was in the forefront when it came to organising drama festivals. After my graduation, I went to Delhi and started out as a production assistant in an ad agency. I then made some ad films myself, followed by a few documentaries tackling social issues. You see, I was this very righteous youth who wanted to set straight the injustices in society, hence the documentaries where I could express my thoughts. I even directed a few teleserials for DD, again on social issues, and though they were telecast during the non prime-time slot, it felt important to see my name as the director."
It was a pilot he had shot for an teleserial that changed the course of his life. "The satellite channels had made their impact and I had this very ambitious plan of making a mega-serial on the army," enthuses Rajeev, "I made a pilot incurring all the expenses myself, and with a lot of help from the army people who knew my father. While making the pilot episodes the Afghan war broke out, and the army couldn't help me further since they were deployed for the war. Yet I managed to shoot some episodes, and landed in Mumbai to submit the pilot to various satellite channels, very sure that I would be given a slot. I got no response at all. It was a major setback. I realised I had burnt my fingers. But then I had landed in Mumbai, the city of dreams, and it did prove to be a turning point of my life."
The land of opportunity threw up other options for Rajeev, who was sharp enough to grab them. "Though I had been behind the secnes and into direction, acting was always there at the back of my mind and an avenue which I had yet to explore," he says, "So I decided to face the camera and see if I would stand out or be just another face in the crowd."
Stood out he sure did, because after circulating his portfolio in ad agencies, Rajeev bagged ad films like LML, Gilbeys, Kodak Express, Good Knight. "That spurred me on and instilled some confidence in me. And I made good money," he states, "But there's not much creative satisfaction in doing ads. So when I came to know that auditions were being held for Balaji Telefilms for their daily soaps, I decided to try my luck, and ended up being selected."
Rajeev's first teleserial was the thriller Kya Haadsa Kya Haqeeqat, in which he did the first story. But it was with his second teleserial Kaahin To Hoga that the actor hit bigtime. "I never imagined the big difference the telrserial would make in my life. It's a high when I am pointed out as Sujal Garewal in public places, and when people come up to me and compliment me for my performance. It makes you feel accepted," smiles Rajeev, his jet-black eyes lighting up.
Did he expect this kind of adulation? "Not really," is his candid response, "Firstly because the serial is telecast in the non prime-time slot of 11 p.m. Secondly, because the character is not your typical goody-goody kind. It has grey shades and sometimes Sujal's actions border on the thin line between the postive and negative. It's not a character you would instantly fall in love with. It's very human, very real. But then even I am like that, a bit stubborn, arrogant and very much into myself." As an afterthought, the actor points out, "Some have even told me that Sujal reminds them of the typical Mills and Boon hero."
RAJEEV'S FAVE LIST...
ACTOR: Amitabh Bachchan
ACTRESS: Waheeda Rehman
FOOD: What I cook myself. I make lovely palak saag
CAR: My car Hyundai Accent
HOLIDAY SPOT: Leh, Ladakh
HISTORICAL CHARACTER: Prithviraj Chauhan since I am from Jaipur
BOOK: Ayn Rand's Fountainhead. I am very much like the hero of the book Howard Roark
Shah Rukh Khan for what he has achieved in a short time. He comes to Mumbai and makes a Mannat (bungalow) for himself. That's achievement
Amitabh Bachchan in Shakti
MOTTO IN LIFE: Believe in yourself
WHAT I LOOK FOR IN A WOMAN:
DATE OF BIRTH: October 16, Libra
Rajeev humbly gives the credit of his success to the people who conceived the show. "They gave me a brilliant brief which is why I could portray the finer nunaces well. I am not a great actor, neither am I a good looker. The success is because of the entire package," he feels, "When people come up to me and tell me we understand your character, that's like an award."
After five months of telecast of Kaahin To Higa, Rajeev has not yet appeared in other teleserials. "It's a conscious decision not to act in other serials because I want to focus on this role," he explains, "Plus the offers I am getting are for similar kind of roles, so I am just waiting for the euphoria to subside, and then maybe I will get different kind of roles. I am very keen to do comic roles."
He seems to have planned his career moves? "Yes, kind of," Rajeev agrees, "I don't want to follow the beaten track. I am not glamour-struck and I don't mind waiting for the right offer. What's important is to believe in yourself, because only then will others believe in you. Which is why Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan are my idols." He further adds, "Films are also on my mind. I hope directors who make meaningful films have noticed me."
Back home in Jaipur, Rajeev's parents are equally proud of him. "They rarely praise me and are my worst critics. At the most they say, 'Yeh scene achcha kiya'. I haven't got the time to go and meet them, and my mother's really missing me," he concludes with a tinge of nostalgia.
Joined: 01 December 2004
IF’s Strict Mod
Joined: 19 January 2005
Joined: 01 December 2004
Hey sonya congrats on being a groupe and u can call me megha and not megha_Desai cause it sounds very formal everyone here calls me megha
Joined: 09 December 2004
Joined: 06 November 2004
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