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chat Rahul Khanna on future projects, return to television and his love for animals

Spoilt by stylists Rahul Khanna Photo: Murali Kumar k.
Spoilt by stylists Rahul Khanna Photo: Murali Kumar k.

Rahul, who had the world at his feet during his veejaying days with MTV, (“it was a long time ago,” he says deprecatingly) is now working on Fireflies . “It is a small, English, indie film directed by Sabal Singh Shekhawat, a prolific ad film maker. It is the story of two brothers — a simple, lyrical film,” says the actor.

Back to small screen

The actor also returns to telly with the Hindi version of 24 . Directed by Abhinay Deo ( Delhi Belly ), 24 has Anil Kapoor playing Jai Singh Rathod (similar to Keifer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer). “Anil is a friend and we got talking about the show. It is a guest role. I play a businessman who possibly might have information.” Praising the series as slick and trendy, Rahul said,

“It is a new approach to television.”

A graduate from the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute and the School of Visual Arts in New York City, Rahul has dabbled in film (Indian and international), television and stage. Rahul’s turn as Tariq in East is East in New York won him much acclaim.

“It was an off-Broadway play and a fantastic experience.”

Saying he would love to direct a film, Rahul says there is nothing concrete as of now. With actor dad Vinod Khanna and brother Akshaye also an actor (a staple in Priyadarshan’s insane comic capers), do the Khannas as a family discuss films? “Yes we do, both as work and as an audience.”

But, why do we see so little of Rahul Khanna? “I can only choose from what I am offered,” the actor says earnestly. “I enjoy doing films. I am happy to take films wherever they come from — Hollywood, Bollywood, indie, commercial… whatever.”

Ask him if he doesn’t believe in pursuing and hunting down a role, and he looks suitably downcast saying: “I might not be the world’s best networker, but I am doing the best I can.”

And you are immediately saying there, there it is alright. This is the actor who made his debut and held his own alongside Aamir Khan and Nandita Das in Deepa Mehta’s Earth .

In the film, Rahul’s brilliant portrayal of Hassan, the masseur in love with Shanta (Nandita Das) the ayah, won many him many awards, including one for Best male debut.

Puppy love

An animal lover, Rahul doesn’t have a pet, thanks to his travelling, “but I have access to dogs — my dad and brother have dogs and they come visiting. I call them my dog nephew and nieces,” he says with that swoon-worthy dimpled smile.

Rahul’s last two screen outings were in Imtiaz Ali’s Love Aaj Kal and Ayan Mukherjee’s Wake Up Sid . And he has got to see the transformation in filmmaking first hand.

“It has changed unbelievably! There is emphasis on planning, organisation, the script. In dad’s day, it was unheard of — scripts were written on set.” The last film Rahul watched was “on the flight here.

"I watched Death at a Funeral , it was hilarious.” A self-confessed gadget guy, Rahul says he has “the usual Apple stuff.”





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