In 2004, Rajeev Khandelwal’s popularity as the Darcy-esque Sujal from TV show Kahiin To Hoga was at its peak and the actor recalls a series of “unreal” moments at a film party when he was introduced to two of the biggest superstars of Indian cinema — Rajesh Khanna and Dilip Kumar.

Rajeev Khandelwal will be seen in Showtime.
Rajeev Khandelwal will be seen in Showtime.

The actor, who became a heartthrob after the premiere of the Ekta Kapoor-backed soap opera, based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, said even today he remembers the event where he met the who’s who of the industry.

Hindustan Times – your fastest source for breaking news! Read now.

Khandelwal said the night started with actor Neetu Kapoor coming up to him and pulling his cheeks. “I remember it very clearly because it was massive for me. It was unreal. This was around 2004. I was taken to attend a party… First, Neetu ji came up to me, she pulled my cheeks and said ‘Rajeev, I really love you. You are lovely.’

Meeting his idols

“Neetu ji told her husband Rishi Kapoor that ‘This is the guy I really love, he is loved by everyone’. Chintu ji looked at me, said ‘Hi’ and left,” the actor told PTI in an interview.

Khandelwal, also known for TV shows Kya Hadsaa Kya Haqeeqat, Left Right Left as well as films Aamir and Table No 21, said later Reena Roy introduced him to Rajesh Khanna with whom he shared initials.

“She told him, ‘He is also RK, he’s the RK of the modern generation’. Kaka was wearing his white kurta-pyjama and told me ‘You know what’s the difference between you and me? You are a better actor than me.’ I don’t know why he said that but I was so embarrassed. Then Reena ji took me to Saira Banu ji and Dilip sahab,” he said.

At the function, Saira Banu told Khandelwal that both she and Dilip Kumar like him and watch his show Kahiin To Hoga.

“Saira ji then introduced me to Dilip sahab, said ‘This is the same boy, the one whose eyes you really like’. He took some time to recognise me, then said, ‘Bhai, I want to give you a piece of advice’ and suddenly fell silent for 30 seconds. He was going through some bout of health. Then someone came and hijacked our conversation and I never received that piece of advice from Dilip sahab,” the 48-year-old recounted.

After the release of his big-screen debut, the 2008 action thriller Aamir, Khandelwal said Dev Anand invited him to his house to offer the actor a film.

“When I went there, I touched his feet because I had idolised him since childhood. I had taken my camera and he was the only actor with whom I wanted to click a picture. When I touched his feet, he asked: ‘What are you doing?’ I said ‘You inspire me’, to which he said: ‘Then, I should be touching your feet because actors like you inspire me too.’ I was blown away,” he said.

Another memory that’s as clear as day in Khandelwal’s mind is from an event where people from both TV and films, including Karan Johar and Shah Rukh Khan, were present.

“I was backstage when I saw Shah Rukh Khan and Karan Johar walking towards me. So, I stood up as they were my seniors. Both of them introduced themselves to me and it was yet another unreal, unexpected moment that I remember when I was star struck,” he added.

From meeting Johar at a function to starring in his production Showtime, life has come full circle for Khandelwal.

About Showtime

In the upcoming Disney+ Hotstar series, the actor plays the role of Armaan Singh, a Bollywood superstar, a character, he said, is inspired by many superstars in the industry.

“This character is a mix and match of a lot of superstars. And this is not fiction, it’s not a figment of anyone’s imagination.

“The writers, directors and me as an actor, we all have encountered several incidents on our sets. We have heard stories about a superstar who doesn’t come to set on time because he fears someone will kill him. I’ve realised that all that glitz and glamour, attention from people, and pressure changes you,” he said.

Khandelwal, who was last seen in the film Bloody Daddy, said he has never considered himself a star.

“The real meaning of stardom for me is that I am glowing in someone’s memory or that I have been able to make a place for myself in someone’s heart… I have never considered myself a star or felt like I’m someone special. There have been times when people mob you. It gets difficult to handle.

“People have torn off my shirt, I have hurt myself at events. All of this has happened, but I have still never believed that I’m someone great. I understand it’s the character they are in love with, not me. That’s why I stay away from stardom,” said the actor, who likes staying under the radar until he has to resurface to promote his work.

Showtime, produced by Johar’s Dharmatic Entertainment, also stars Emraan Hashmi, Mahima Makwana, Mouni Roy, Naseeruddin Shah, and Shriya Saran.

The series is created by Sumit Roy and showrunner Mihir Desai. Desai also serves as a director along with Archit Kumar. The show will premiere on Friday.


Source link