Busy with two shows currently on air, Rajesh Khera
takes time out to talk about his life, acting career and more. He is on the sets of the NDTV Prime show Ticket to Bollywood where he is an acting guru training contestants on various aspects of acting. Talking excitedly about it Rajesh says, "It feels great to nurture young talent even though it is for a show and I am making sure that these young aspirants get rid of their inhibitions on and off screen and learn about reading the script and getting them to do exercises."
However, currently it is his act as Maharani in Uttaran
which is drawing enough attention. As Maharani, he is being shown to be responsible for kidnapping Meethi (Tina Dutta
) and trying to push her into flesh trade. Being a versatile actor it has been a smooth transition for Rajesh who has earlier played a gay character Maddy in Sony TV
's Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin and a cross gender in Aasman se Aage. Telling us more about it Rajesh says, "Well Maddy was different and so is this. I feel that any actor jab tak apne comfort zone se bahar na nikle tab tak
he doesn't get to do something different. As it is I don't get offered the regular chacha,
mama roles as I think people never think I am suitable for those kind of roles which is a good thing too since if you do different kind of roles you stand out instead of getting lost in the crowd. Sometimes when you are doing the same role for a long time you get irritated with the same costumes, same drama, same dialogues, so regular gets boring for me."
So is that the reason we don't see him much on Television. But isn't it good money too, we ask Rajesh, "Yes, you make money... sometimes big money but I have never been crazy about just money. I have other interests, adventure being one of them and being single I just take off and go on treks and biking to unexplored places. My parents stay in a cute, little house in Pune and I take care of them and keep on renovating the place as and when it is needed. I like to spend time there so I cannot work continuously and need my breathing space after some time. That is the reason that despite knowing that Maharani was a cameo I took it up since it will wrap up soon!"
Rajesh did quite a bit of research before he started shooting for this role, "Playing Maharani was a challenge since I had to be in disguise and do something different and also pull it off but I guess I have done quite well. The EP of this show Ketki Walawalkar recommended my name and after I cleared the look test I researched quite a bit about the character. Some of my friends suggested documentaries that I should watch from where I learned the right mannerisms like how to clap (the typical taali done by the eunuchs), the way they dance, the way they talk, etc. And I have got good feedback from everyone who has seen this."
We hear that even the transgender rights activist Laxmi Tripathi visited the sets one day, "Yes, one of Laxmi's jodidar was shooting with me for Uttaran
and we became good friends and he got Laxmi to the sets once. I met Laxmi and found her not only good looking with perfect English speaking skills. Laxmi complimented me on my work and we had a good meeting."
The role needs a lot of preparations says Rajesh as he elaborates on his get-up, "I have to wear a heavy wig, heavy saree and jewellery along with make-up with a total load of extra 7-8 kilos on my body and then shoot in that get-up the entire day in this heat on a non AC set! I take almost 2 hours to get ready and it is tricky but at the end of the day if that makes the character then I am okay with it all."
After doing all this Rajesh is no doubt more sympathetic towards the eunuchs he comes across on the streets, "Now whenever I see them at the signal, I shell out at least 10 rupees as a contribution. I feel I have to share it since if they were not there my character would not have existed!" concludes Rajesh.
Seema Khot Mattoo