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Unravelling India's hottest TV star

By Subhash K. Jha, Indo-Asian News Service

india Updated: Jan 11, 2006 16:38 IST

He was called arrogant, insufferable, opinionated, and vain. But all the rumours about India's hottest TV star Rajiv Khandelwal crumble to the dust.

The former Kahiin To Hoga star, popularly known as Sujal after the character he played, comes across as a surprisingly realistic and modest man.

"I don't know why I'm considered highhanded. Those who know me don't despise me. Probably these rumours have to do with the insecurities of the rumour mongers. They've nothing to do with me. I don't care about such allegations," he said.

"I care about my work and the people I work with. If the spot boys feel I'm not a good human being then it'd be time for me to get seriously worried."

He has certainly moved on. Kahiin ToHoga is over for me. I don't know how people started these rumours that I wanted to go back to the serial. It re-started the mudslinging between Ekta and me. I'm sure they too would never want me back.

But if she offers me something I like I won't mind going back to Balaji."

Right now Rajiv is busy using his celebrity status to propagate causes he believes in. He was in Agra to promote the use of condoms. He will go to Patna in December for the same.

This TV superstar says he also enjoys doing live shows. "It is very humbling. When I went to Guwahati for a show, a 60-year old lady was screaming 'Sujal' and she held a hand-stitched pullover with Sujal written on it. I asked her how she knew she'd one day run into me, and she said she just knew."

He's surprisingly honest about his rift with Ekta Kapoor.

"We both know what happened. It was a mutual decision for me to move on. Her ideas on how to play Sujal didn't jell with me. The actor within me couldn't agree with the way she wanted the role to be played.

"I could've worked with Balaji Telefilms for 10 more years. They could've slashed my price, and I wouldn't have cared. But the liberties being taken with logistics in my characterisation were unbearable for me."

Rajiv, who stars in the new crime thriller Time Bomb, is clueless about his future. "I'm doing a cameo in Sony's CID.

I'll hold back as long as I can. I'll try not to do routine stuff as long as I can. I'm an optimist. I won't do something mediocre. Unfortunately, the TV industry and I both need to grow a lot more. I want to work with intelligent people."

Rajiv laughs off the rumours about him and his Kahiin To Hoga co-star Amna Sharif.

"The rumours about Amna and me are just rumours. We both enjoy these rumours. I fact we add spice to them by going for events together as a couple. Marriage is not on the cards for a long time. It can happen any time. My younger brother recently married out of the blue. It may happen to me too."

First Published: Jan 11, 2006 13:31 IST