Rahul Khanna smiles easily. Dressed smartly in a pair of dark blue tee and white pants, he looks comfortable with himself. The 44-year-old looks at least a decade younger. However, his looks take a backseat for a while. His personality becomes the focal point. And it’s a while before you are able to see beyond his personality infused as it is with old-world charm.
The actor was in Gurgaon recently to launch the production of The Mavericks, a short series starting on September 3 on NDTV Good Times. As he swaggers in the swanky, cool corridors of the Westin hotel, he doesn’t come across as an actor whose evening is engaged. Instead, Rahul looks like any normal guy who could be on a vacation, walking on a beach.
He patiently answers your questions with extreme politeness having a tinge of shyness and you can’t stop wondering that Rahul can be any next-door guy. Maybe that’s why Glenfiddich, a Speyside single malt Scotch whiskey, chose Rahul to tell the tales of Whiskey-making in quaint Dufftown, Scotland. His sophistication mingled with refined sensibilities lends an authenticity to the series. The actor chooses his words with utmost care.
Rahul humbly accepts that he didn’t know much about whiskey before embarking on the show. The show was a bit of educational trip for him as it turned him into a whiskey enthusiast from a whiskey novice. “I always wanted to visit Scotland. I am an outdoor person. But I didn’t know much about whiskey. I had it on a couple of occasions. Many in my family drink whiskey. I didn’t know that there were a whole tradition and history to whiskey. I am much more aware of it now. I can tell you the types of whiskey and differentiate between them,” says Rahul on his experience in Scotland.
Rahul adds that the show name ‘The Mavericks’ mirrors his own journey. “I have been able to do things on my own terms. So in a sense, there is a maverick inside me.”
The actor has featured in very few Hindi films. But then actor’s repertoire goes beyond that. Rahul is one of the few Indian actors who have done work in different mediums and genres. In his 20-year-long career, Rahul has worked in TV, theatre, feature films and independent cinema. But this has never been a conscious decision. It took place over a period of time.
For someone who is extremely well-mannered, posing for pictures might seem the obvious job. Rahul has so far endorsed multiple brands and his appearance on fashion magazines is incessant. His appeal lies in his instinct to try new, different things. The actor brings novelty to his assignments and projects.
“I always wanted to explore the craft and was open to trying new, different things. I still don’t know what I do as I keep doing different things. But the good thing about working in this profession is that you never have two days same. In my 20-years of working, I can say that I never had two days same as you keep doing new stuff,” says Rahul.
Son of Vinod Khanna and ex-model Gitanjali Taleyarkhan, Rahul grew up in Mumbai but had no influence of Bollywood. In fact, he wasn’t allowed to watch many movies. “People think that we had an access to Bollywood. I grew up with my mum as my parents broke up quite early. We watched few English movies,” says Rahul. Rahul goes on to accept that he watched a handful of his father’s films.
Acting came organically to Rahul. “I always wanted to do something creative. I wanted to draw cartoons. Then acting school happened. I was also doing some acting courses. Films were always in the back of my mind while working as a VJ for MTV Asia,” says Rahul.
The actor dabbled in a multitude of odd jobs including working in stores, donning cartoon character costumes during his days at Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. “I am still doing odd jobs,” quips Rahul.
Having starred in The Americans, a TV show, Rahul says that it’s not easy to work in Hollywood. “Why should it be easy? American entertainment industry is much more evolved. But today it is more open to including people of different colours, races, and cultures,” says Rahul.
The actor finds nothing wrong with stereotypes of Indian characters in Hollywood. “Stereotypes of characters happen in any form of entertainment. It happens in Bollywood. There is nothing wrong or right about this,” says the actor.
Rahul has also shot a nude scene for The Americans where he played a Pakistani Intelligence agent. Asked about his experience, Rahul says, “Doing nude scene had always been a mystery to me. It also terrified me. It’s like bungee jumping. You have to take the leap and face your fears. The scene was well choreographed and technical in nature. At the end, you realise, what’s the big deal?”
His social media is quite popular among young girls. His Instagram posts give you a glimpse of actor’s stylish lifestyle. He truly epitomises the pursuit of joy. So, what’s that one thing that he still wants to implement in his already desirable lifestyle? “I am trying to streamline my life, to make it less cluttered. Over the years, I have become a bit of minimalist. My dream would be to limit my possessions so that I could pack them in a couple of suitcases as I am constantly on the move.”
The actor finds immense pleasure in reading. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl is his all-time favourite book. He has currently finished reading one of his friend’s books. He tries to recollect the name, but couldn’t. Where does he find his refuge from the busy world of the entertainment industry?
“I have pockets of refuge all across the world and they are all secret. These are nice places to reflect in. Some of them are properties, my friends and relatives’ home,” answers Rahul.