Rajeev Khandelwal on turning down offers: When someone takes offence, that’s not my problem, I’m not saying ‘no’ to them but the project
As an artiste, Rajeev Khandelwal believes in taking up projects that satisfy his creative urge, and to in the process, he has even turned out many offers be it on TV, in films or the web. Happy with the decisions he has made irrespective of people’s perceptions about him, things have been “so far so good” for the actor.
“When I say ‘no’ to films, TV or web offers, there are times when I’m not taken nicely. Sometimes, senior makers took offence. But then that’s not my problem. People need to understand that I’m not saying ‘no’ to them but the project. I think this is short-sightedness on their part in not understanding where my ‘no’ is coming from, as not everything matches my scheme of things. Both the makers and I should be open that at any point if they think I don’t fit the bill, they’ll have the right to consider other options,” he says, adding tat even if it’s the script which he doesn’t like, “I should have the choice to opt out”.
Talking about his initial days, Khandelwal admits that like any other newcomer, he, too, was prepared for challenges.
“I wasn’t a trained actor, so I knew I had to learn the craft. I’ve never been influenced by any formula. During Kahiin To Hoga, I was tagged ‘a romantic hero’ and was expected to continue doing similar shows and films. But look at my career; I haven’t done much romance on screen,” quips the 44-year-old.
Asked if he has ever given too much though to which medium he is being a part of, Khandelwal says things matter to the audience and to actors, it’s only the project that count.
“When I did Aamir (2008), people started predicting me as the next superstar. But for me, it was just a project, I never thought I’m graduating to films. So, afterwards, I did the show Sacch Ka Saamna before again doing films like Shaitan, Soundtrack (both 2012) and Table No.21 (2013). Had I wanted to make it big just in films, I’d have hired a PR machinery to push myself. Many also said being an outsider I didn’t get good film offers. I wanted to tell them to look at my career first and then comment,” he retorts, adding that the insider vs outsider doesn’t make sense to him.
The actor asserts that it’s easier for people to lament about not getting opportunities but “did you work hard?” he asks pointing how many actors got a good break after 10-15 years of being around.
Elaborating on this, he recounts, “While doing workshops with Nawazuddin (Siddiqui; actor) during Aamir, I’d think why isn’t he getting opportunities? And look at him now. When I came to Mumbai from Delhi, I stayed for a year at my friend Deepak Malwankar’s (cinematographer) place. Both he and his elder brother, Sanjay Malwankar (cinematographer), were already known in the industry. My only condition was that Deepak won’t introduce me to anyone. Many actors, directors would come to meet him and ask about me but he never said anything and respected my decision. I wanted to do everything myself rather than sharing whatever good, bad or average I’ve achieved till date with a godfather.”
Mention the prevalence of nepotism in the film industry, and the actor is quick to add that it will always be there. “It’s understandable that people will support those close to them. But considering yourself a victim of nepotism isn’t right. It’s easy to blame others and circumstances, but it’s difficult to hold yourself accountable,” concludes Khandelwal.
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Author tweets @Shreya_MJ