Rajeev Khandelwal and Aahana Kumra starrer Marzi released a few weeks ago on Voot Select. The series kicks off with a dinner date between a surgeon (Khandelwal), and a school teacher (Kumra) which turns ugly when the former is accused of rape the next morning. Marzi has been receiving appreciation for its sensitivity in handling the subject and performance by the lead actors.
Rajeev Khandelwal, who is presently in his Goa home, exclusively spoke to indianexpress.com about his latest project, challenges of essaying a rape-accused man, and how he chooses his projects.
Sharing what made him pick Marzi, the actor said, “It was very different, nicely written and handled. The subject was also very exciting. It’s topical and very relatable. When I heard the script, I really wanted to do it. Also, every character is well written and is somewhere interconnected. Marzi is not a routine show with a hero and heroine, and you would have to watch it to know more. It was quite a challenging character for me, since I haven’t attempted anything like this before. And now that I look back, I am happy that I took the call, and could include the project in my resume.”
Ask him what kind of challenges he faced while playing the role, and pat came the reply, “Trust me, it wasn’t easy. My director really helped me out. I was adamant about how my character would react in certain situations. But Anil (the director) made me understand his perspective. He gave a brilliant suggestion that we should shoot both the perspective – his and mine and finalise things on the edit table. However, before the release, he did tell me that he didn’t retain even one of my ideas (laughs). He really pitched in and helped me separate Rajeev from the character. Even Aahana and the other actors helped me out. So it was kind of a combined effort.”
Khandelwal, who has a huge fan following among women, further shared that he is not scared to pick up negative roles to maintain an image. “As an actor, for me it’s not about left, right or centre. It’s about getting an opportunity to widen my bandwidth as a performer. Honestly, I have never been captive to an image. I understand I have a lover-boy image, and girls like that. I love the adulation but my efforts have never been to cling on to that. For me, once a side is done, I make an effort to do something very different from the last one. And thankfully, this practice has worked, as people love me as a personality, a package, not just for a character.”
Most actors talk about being in a dark space after playing complicated characters. When we quizzed Rajeev Khandelwal whether he too takes his character back home, he said, “May be for a few days, but it doesn’t reflect in my day-to-day attitude. I honestly miss all my characters, and keep wondering what else I could have done. I have always stepped away when my character is on peak. Though I do wish I could have played Rajveer (Left Right Left), Sujal (Kahiin Toh Hoga), Vivaan Agasthi (Table No 21) or Aamir a little more. It’s an interesting space but it’s not like I come back home and scream at my wife. We actors are a little moody and sometimes in our own world, so our fights are based on that, not because of me being in my character’s head.”
On a concluding note, the 44-year-old explained why he takes up so few projects, “I have always said that work is not my life. The other part is also important, and I don’t know how to prove this to anyone. The five-six months of holiday, or my time in my Goa home is very important for me. So whenever I am doing a project, I pre-book my flight tickets as per the schedule. And then, even if a project comes by, I refuse it. This is how I have handled my career and somewhere I realised, it works for me. And after all these years, if people tell me they want to see more of me, it means they are not bored of me. And what I am doing is somehow the right approach.”
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