When The Americans Season 1 was shown on Indian TV, actor Akshaye Khanna was instantly hooked to this spy drama set in the Cold War KGB era of the ’80s. Meanwhile his older brother, Rahul, always on the lookout for exciting stories, joined the ranks of fans of the show. “It was almost surreal when I got a call to act in an episode in Season 2 of this very show,” says Rahul, over the phone from the US, where he is now shooting for Season 3 of The Americans. The actor will be reprising the role of “Yousaf”, a suave, Oxford-educated, Pakistani intelligence officer who the KGB have covertly engineered within the ISI to serve their own purposes.
This season, he jumps back in the game as the Afghani players begin to play a larger role in the form of Yousaf and the Mujahideen. And yes, it will be more than one episode for Rahul this time for his character is set to have an arc in Season 3. Also, like Season 2, for his second stint, he has signed the “nudity and simulated sex agreement”, the one that created quite a buzz initially.
“When I got the call for Season 2 last year, I was thrilled, but conflicted to go down the full frontal nudity road. I have done love scenes before, but never gone nude because once something like this goes viral, people can be horrible with such shots on the internet,” adds Rahul.
A bit shy and anxious about it, his co-star (Gillian Alexy), on the other hand, was more relaxed and less self-conscious. “The team made me comfortable and as an actor, one has to be okay with everything. Also, doesn’t everyone have the same human anatomy,” he says, laughing. Created and produced by former CIA officer, Joe Weisberg, The Americans is shot in a classified manner. “Only the scripts for the episode are sent, and that too when it’s confirmed. Each page is watermarked to avoid any leak and every move is detailed, researched and high tech,” says Khanna.
Set during the Cold War period, The Americans is about the complex marriage of two KGB spies (played by Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys) posing as Americans in suburban Washington DC. Real-life historic events are sometimes incorporated into the narrative, which actually serve as the magnet for Rahul as a viewer. Lying and false identities, complicated relationships, ugly truths, painful reality, harsh decisions and ruthless undertakings — the show is deeply dramatic, edgy and emotional.
Part nomad, part seeker, Rahul’s attachment to the show also stems from his insatiable curiosity, the need to know and search for things. A foodie and avid writer, he is also thinking of compiling his essays in an anthology. “History interests and intrigues me. I love the spy stuff, tales of espionage and what goes on in a spy’s mind,” says Khanna.