Developed and directed by Aanand Mahendroo, Indradhanush was a 13-episode show that aired in 1988. It revolved around the lives of four school friends, played by Jitendra Rajpal, Karan Johar, Sagar Arya and Vishal Singh. In the show, Appu creates a computer, which becomes the host body of an alien prince, from a planet in the Andromeda Galaxy. Eventually, the prince helps Appu travel back and forth in time. When he disappears one day, his elder brother, Bala, played by Akshay Anand, sets out to find him. As a result, he, too, time travels to 1942, and then to 2013, where he meets his clone. The show also starred Girish Karnad, Urmila Matondkar and Ashutosh Gowariker. The show, written by Rajeev Agarwal and Lilliput, kept the audience glued to their screens.
Akshay says the show was “ahead of its time”, and adds, “I had seen the film, Back To The Future (1985), which was based on time travel. So, it was fascinating for me to be part of such a concept.” Before this show, which marked his TV debut, Akshay had done a small role in a Dev Anand film. “I had just joined college when I did this show. I was 20 years old. While shooting for it, we had no idea how the show would finally turn out to be. It was a cross between a children’s show and a drama series, as it dealt with varied subjects like sibling rivalry, parental pressure, etc,” says the actor.
Vishal, who was in the eighth standard at that time, signed up for the show because of his friend, Sagar. “Sagar knew Aanand uncle well. So, when I was offered the role, I took it up as a summer project, and a paid holiday. The show was a rage back then due to its novel concept. We were teenagers having fun on the set. We were also in awe of Akshay because he was our senior. He would tell us stories about his other acting assignments. He took great care of all of us,” says Vishal. Akshay, too, recalls having a great time working with the younger actors. “We all shared a room, and worked on our lines together. The computer that was used in the show was actually a contraption attached to a cycle, which had wires going into different jars and apparatuses. We would all laugh at it,” he says.
However, shooting for a show like this was not a cakewalk, especially for a group of young boys. Vishal says that working non-stop for long hours would often irritate them. “We used to get frustrated, shooting day and night. Once, we were all venting, and didn’t realise that our mics were on. The whole unit heard what we were saying. We realised our mistake, and were very embarrassed,” he adds.
Akshay says working with a perfectionist like Mahendroo was a challenge too. He recalls that in one of the scenes, Karan shows him the time machine for the first time. He was supposed to look at it, and laugh. Mahendroo made him give 42 takes for that one shot. “We were so scared of him that we didn’t question him,” says Akshay, who enjoyed the part when he had to travel back in time. “It was fantastic,” he adds.
In fact, this show helped Akshay generate quite a fan following. “Back then, I didn’t understand what a fan following was. I was too young. I didn’t consider myself good-looking. I didn’t take the adulation seriously. I was focusing on my studies, and on my acting,” says the actor.