Rajeev Khandelwal seems to be born to play the character of Sujal in Kahin To Hoga! At least his fans think so. Ever since we at 'g' began our television section, readers have been clamouring for an interview of the telestar. The last one saw family audiences freaking over a television artiste was Mihir aka Amar Upadhyay. So much so, even though we had an interview with the star ready, we had to drop it last month just because a much-planned photo shoot with the guy did not materialise. This month we are ready. So read on as Rajeev takes off on the many aspects that brought him to the pedestal of Sujal.
On How Rajeev Failed As Actor
"Acting was always a profession I wanted to associate myself with. If I couldn't make it as an actor soon, or I failed as an actor, it was because Delhi where I grew up gives very few opportunities to actors to prove themselves. I am one person who is very finicky about life. I am one hypersensitive guy. I always knew that I could write very well. From writing to direction, it was smooth sailing. Though I was directing ad films for nearly three years back in Delhi, I felt stifled because I could make no headway as an actor. I did not cast myself either in the documentaries or the ad films that I directed because I did not want people to think that I wasn't getting acting assignments outside."
On How The National Literacy Mission Bought His Film
"I was very passionate about making whatever I was making. I have made short films on various issues. My crowning glory was when the National Literacy Mission came forward to buy a film of mine, which I had made for Doordarshan. I have made 30 documentaries of a half-hour duration each."
On How He Had To Unlearn As An Actor…
"I have never called myself a director because, let's face it, there's a whole lot of difference between commercial films and documentaries, that's fiction v/s non-fiction. Today, thanks to my stint with the camera as a director, I am not as nervous and jittery as I was earlier. But I had to unlearn whatever I had learnt as a director because it was coming in the way of the vision of the directors I worked with, and me. I'd not hesitate to say that direction has taken a back seat. However, eventually, writing and directing films are my primary goals in life."
On Serials Before Kahin To Hoga.
"Shailendra Goel's Maharaj was my first serial. Then I played the character Raj in around 20 episodes of Kya Haadsa Kya Haqeeqat for Ekta Kapoor before I signed Kahin To Hoga, is my first-ever daily soap."
On How His Director Moulded Him
"I do not believe at all in acting schools. I am of the opinion that one can only learn acting techniques from these schools. Your performance comes from your heart. I apply my mind in terms of the characterisation. That is what makes Kahin To Hoga different from the other serials. Anil, who is directing it is a very volatile person and an intelligent director. He and I work on the same frequency because our wavelengths match a lot. I generally tend to think of portraying my character in a certain way but then Anil gives me a different option, which often turns out for the betterment of the character because he understands its basic thread more than I do."
On Rajeev's Aspiration To Act In Films
"Yes. Like my co-star in Kahin To Hoga, Aamna, I too am keen on working in a film. I am waiting for the right break. I'd like to take my bow in films with directors like Nagesh Kukunoor, Ken Ghosh or Yash Chopra. My dream character is the one played by Amitabh Bachchan in Shakti."
On How He Selects His Serials
"I had auditioned for Kahin To Hoga in Delhi. I guess I was indeed destined to play the role of Sujal in it. I am not at all interested in taking up offers to work in any more serials unless and until the role that I am offered is something exciting enough to turn me on. And I will not put money as a priority before accepting a role. The role would be my first choice. As of now, I prefer to concentrate only on acting. I do not identify totally with the character of Sujal… there's just a twenty per cent likeness."
On What He Likes About Co-star Aamna aka Kashish
"What I like about Aamna is that she is a genuine person at heart. It takes a lot to convince me. Aamna is very forthright. Her anger, her concern and her feelings are all genuine. Nothing is put on. People ask us whether we are going around or seeing each other. The other day I told a journalist that we – Aamna and I are going round and round and round. Apart from jokes, let me put it this way. Aamna and I do enjoy being with each other. We take time out to go out for films, shopping etc. We also do shows together but it doesn't tantamount to us seeing each other. It may sound like a clich but the fact is that Aamna and I are very good friends."
On His Growth As An Actor
"You learn from experience as an actor. I have learnt from every possible shortcoming of mine. Today I am confident enough to perform every character with a lot more maturity than what I could do, say even three months ago. I am of the opinion that the day complacency creeps in, you are finished as an actor."
On His Aim To Walk In The Footsteps Of Aamir Khan
"I'd like to walk in the footsteps of Aamir Khan. What I like about Aamir is that as an actor he is different in every film, whether it is Lagaan or Sarfarosh or for that matter Rangeela. I'd like to do quality work like Aamir and earn for myself a name in films too, as an actor of course!"
Yes, Rajeev… somewhere… tomorrow!