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Rajesh Khattar has taken a break from acting and is awaiting the release of `Funtoosh,' which marks his debut as a feature film writer

Photo: P.V. Sivakumar

RAJESH KHATTAR insists he became a writer "by default. I was working on this serial, Mafia, and the director and writer had a problem. Then the writer quit and the director was going out of town so he told me to brief the new writer. As I was doing so, the writer suggested I write as I knew precisely what was going on and then there was no looking back."

Since then Khattar has written "all 370 episodes of the daily soap Koi Apna Sa" and is presently working on Kucch Pal Saath Tumhara." Rajesh's love for theatre started off in Delhi in Hans Raj College. "I did a lot of theatre in Delhi, I moved to Mumbai 12 years ago." Rajesh caught Yash Chopra's eye for his work in the serial Phir Wahi Talash and he was cast in Aaina. Despite working opposite the Big B in Suryavansham, lead roles did not happen.

"It is all about destiny and luck. There is no point doing post-mortems and saying that maybe I should have done this or that. If there was a formula for success then everyone would have been successful!"

Returning to stage after a break of 12 years gave a feeling of "déjà vu. Divorce me Darling marks my debut on the Mumbai stage. The Mumbai theatre scene is much more commercial - there is no money in theatre in Delhi."

Rajesh is looking forward to the release of Funtoosh on December 19, which he has written. "It is a non-stop roller coaster ride." Describing the film as about "dudes in 10th century, it could be the 12th also," Rajesh says, "at the risk of sounding cliched, the film starring Paresh Rawal and Riya Sen among others is different. One should take a back seat and enjoy."

Rajesh comments, "The director is the captain of the ship. As a writer I have to convince the director to visualise the scene my way or I try to see it his way. If the director arrives on sets unconvinced about a scene, then the product is bound to suffer."

And Rajesh does not throw tantrums if a scene is executed contrary to his vision simply because "there is no time. In a daily soap where is the time to analyse and dissect? A scene is over and we move on to the next day."

Rajesh does a lot of dubbing work as well. "I am a voice artiste and I have dubbed in Hindi for more than 45 English films including Hugh Jackson's character in Swordfish, Peter Bannon's character in The Hulk, the suave Merovingian in Matrix Revolutions and the greatest challenge of all Capt Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean."

"Pirates was longer than a regular Hollywood flick and Johnny Depp's character has the maximum lines. With Sparrow being drunk through the movie, it was a tough job to maintain the mood and tempo."

The Matrix Revolutions with its simultaneous release presented a different kind of problem. "The producers were very nervous of giving us the completed film and so they sent us prints with only the character who is speaking and the others in the frame were not there!" We can hear Rajesh as the Rock in upcoming Welcome to the Jungle.

About seeing the debonair actor on screen, Rajesh says to wait and watch, "there are no rules remember?"


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