Interview By: DRISHTI PANDEY

Rajeev Khandelwal aka Sujal rose to fame from ‘Kahiin To Hoga’ and since then there was no turning back. His career graph including films like ‘Aamir’, ‘Soundtrack’, ‘Table no 21’and more are a testament to that. The talented actor has always made an impact on the audiences with his intense and charming looks. The actor settles down with us for a chat in a pretty candid mood; talks about his forthcoming digital debut Web series ‘Haq Se’ Excerpts :

How is it to be doctor Naushaad Rizvi, this character seems to be different from what you’ve played in past?

‘Haq Se’ is a classic. It’s a beautiful series, it will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will make you emotional, it will make you think, and it’s a complete show. It’s not one of the shows that we can call it a love story, a thriller or drama at its best. Naushaad Rizvi is a character that has come straight from Ekta’s brain so it’s not a usual character that we see. You may hate him, you may like him, you may probably love him then go back to hating him again; you’ll not know what to do with him, you’ll not be able to ignore him though.  Let’s see how the audience react and have to say about him. But somewhere I know that you’ll have all kinds of emotions for this man; you might just say I can’t understand this man but probably you might say you understand him.

So is Rajeev similar to Naushaad?

There are lot of similarities that I share with Naushaad. We are probably a little introvert, not really introvert but we don’t want anyone to support us, I can deal with my emotions, I can deal everything on my own. I don’t need anyone to help me with my emotions.  We are not dependent people either emotionally or practically or in any other way.  Somewhere my character and I think we are right and there are people who will always come and tell us what we should do and what we shouldn’t.  But we still want to do things the way we want to do things – good, bad or whatever it may be.  Other than that no more similarities because it is his journey, the way he is because of the life that he has spend and what I am today is because of the years I have spend. So it’s going to be different that way.

How excited were you when you were offered ‘Haq Se’ as it’s your digital debut?  

The time I read the script I was blown away I mean such a beautiful script written by Devika  Bhagat and Renuka Kunzr; the screenplay writer and dialogue writer they deserve a stunting ovation for how they wrote and how they have put it together. So I am extremely proud to be part of this web series, I have no reasons to say no. When the producer Manor Rama pictures approached me; I was a bit sceptical because they are first time producers and will they be able to do justice to it?  But when I read the series I said I’ll take a chance and I’ll go for it.

How different was it to share screen space once again with Surveen after ‘Kahiin to Hoga’, how evolved you guys felt as actors and also did the comfort level remain the same?

Comfort level was fantastic since the day we met for the workshops, also because we had worked in the past and I have a lot of respect for her for the work she has done and she also respects the kind of work I have done; probably we were just waiting to be reunited. We had a blast on the sets I can’t even think of one instant where we were uncomfortable in each other’s presence. In fact we enjoyed and the warmth that we share went up with many folds in this series.  We thoroughly enjoyed and I am sure audience will see the beauty of our chemistry.

Talking about the body of work that you’ve done; what has been your driving force for all these choices or was it a conscious decision?

I don’t know. I won’t be able to answer that because I pick up scripts and I read them and then I choose – if I don’t want to be part of the project or be part of it, it’s because it excites me. It has not been a conscious decision to do different things; it is probably me as a person. I want to do different things, I am that kind of a person who doesn’t like travelling to one place all the time, don’t like cooking a dish at home with the same recipes I keep changing the recipes. My wife gets annoyed at times saying why I can’t make it in the same way as I did before and I always change my recipes when I cook. I always change my routes when I go for cycling; I cycle a lot in Goa, so that is an inherent part of my personality.  My wife would pick up something from outside for the house and I would think of creating things with the stuff I have at home.  So I think my personality traits got to do with the choices I make.

“Ken Ghosh was a delight to work with; I think he did bring out a lot more from me than anyone else would have”

It’s been about 15 years for you in the industry, how much do you think the scenario has changed in television and films?  

It has changed for good, the films definitely for good, in 2008 I did ‘ Aamir’ there was a time when typical commercial films were ruling and people said why was I making my debut with  a film like ‘Aamir’. And now we see lot of films like ‘Aamir’ have been made or most of the films have content now; I always wanted content to be very important, so that is that. And television I don’t know, I don’t think that much has changed; actually I miss some iconic shows which were down then, now I think it’s gone more on audience choice I guess. And if audience choice is what they are getting onscreen which I wouldn’t like to see. Television, maybe, is watched by a lesser audience now in terms of earlier, we didn’t have choice and now we have choice. So, all those who wanted to watch different stuff which television wasn’t providing them now they have the option to watch it on digital platform.  And those who are still conventional in their approach and still like certain things on television are probably still watching television. So, now with digital platform the doors are open for almost everyone, you can watch what pleases you.

Is there a threat to cinema as we see content driven projects have been made in digital platform?

I wouldn’t know but I am sure everyone will up their game because when you know there are content driven things probably at a cheaper cost, so everyone will have to up their game. Because we will not be able to survive with anything that doesn’t have content or an appealing factor, you cannot really bank on faces and think that it will work because we have certain names in our films or projects for that matter. Because the audience has a choice to walk out and say – I rather watch something which appeals to me.

What was the best part of ‘Haq Se’?

Best part was Ekta Kapoor and Ken Ghosh both. Ken Ghosh was a delight to work with; I think he did bring out a lot more from me than anyone else would have. He is remarkable, and we enjoyed him as a person, as a director, as an individual, everyone on the sets just loves him. And Ekta’s passionate involvement; it’s like to another level. I am reliving those days of ‘Kahiin To Hoga’ where she was really passionate and worked on scenes. Because I haven’t worked with her and I was missing it from the other producers all this while. ‘Haq Se’, the madness is to another level; she is so involved with this series that you just feel so good.

Has there been any sort of jitters before a project? 

Every time and with every project, you have no idea how nervous I was when the trailer was been shown because every time it’s a new thing, there’s a new excitement. I am nervous with every project when it begins, and nervous each time it goes out to the audience. There is that inherent nervousness in me, I don’t know why, but I do get nervous. (Smiles)

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