From 1997 to 2005, Saturdays and Tuesdays were sacred for children as they sat glued to the TV to watch the heroic antics of their favourite superhero, Shaktimaan.
He didn’t wear his underwear over his pants, but that didn’t stop the kids from loving him. A glance at actor Mukesh Khanna, 55, as he visits the city on Friday, and your childhood revisits you. He might be single, with no children of his own, but every child is his friend.
At his age, Mukesh remains fit, retaining the same deep voice that advised little children to go to school regularly or drink milk everyday. “Shaktimaan had a charisma and wanted to make a difference to the society. I remember many parents telling me that their kids had started drinking milk or going to school regularly after watching the show,” Mukesh smiles. In fact, Shaktimaan’s popularity led to the making of a tele-film titled Hamara Hero Shaktimaan for the children’s channel Pogo in June this year.
To everyone’s joy, the much-loved hero is set to return, he announces. “Soon, the serial Shaktimaan will be back on the channels Pogo and Doordarshan in a new avatar. For this, I have worked very hard. It’s been 15 years since I last acted as Shaktimaan and I had to undergo physical excercises to be in shape,” says Mukesh.
Content at being remembered even when he was out of sight, the actor, who graduated from the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune, where he had Naseeruddin Shah and Shakti Kapoor as classmates, says he even became a brand ambassador for some schools. However, Mukesh is upset with an increase in the number of superheroes in India, whom the actor doesn’t think worthy of the appreciation.
“When the film Ra.One was released, Shah Rukh Khan was heard saying that the country had got its own superhero. How could he term Ra.One a superhero? Do superheroes smoke like Shah Rukh does? Even Krrish [portrayed by actor Hrithik Roshan in the film of the same name] is not as big as Shaktimaan. Now, recently the film Grand Masti was declared a super hit. People say they make such films because the audience wants them; but people will even watch porn if you give it to them. It’s our duty to provide the viewers with good content,” he says, adding that his dream is to make a film on Shaktimaan. “If one day I have 150 crore like Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik, I would bring Shaktimaan to 70 mm screen,” he smiles.
Another endeavour on Mukesh’s mind is opening an acting school in Chandigarh. He says, “Acting is still a taboo. Parents think twice before sending their children to Mumbai. I opened two acting schools in Jaipur and Agra while Chandigarh will be next to have one.”
About the course
Mukesh Khanna’s Institute of Acting for Film and Television at Sector 8, Chandigarh, will offer a three—month course from November 6 onwards. The auditions for the selection of the students will take place on October 27, the venue for which hasn’t been announced yet. The charges for the course, that will focus on acting, movement, voice, diction, speech and drama, are Rs 60,000.