On paper, Rajeev Khandelwal has all the qualifications for a head-start in Bollywood — he has undeniable talent, good looks, readymade popularity courtesy TV and a good launch pad in the film Aamir. But Rajeev is still waiting for payday. The actor, however, is confident of his strategy and wants to concentrate on worthwhile films like his forthcoming thriller Table No 21.
People still associate you with Sujal from your TV show Kahiin To Hoga.
People associate me with other characters I have played too and I am proud of it. When I travel, people tell me, ‘You are my Rajeev Singh Shekhawat from Left Right Left. Some people remember me from my film Aamir, others from Soundtrack. If people remember you for different stuff, great; if they forget, well, I will be one of the million actors who have been forgotten.
After doing films, you went back to doing TV as the host of Sach Ka Saamna.
I never go back to anything. After I did Aamir, TV came ahead and met me. Everyone is dying to do television because they have discovered its strength. Unfortunately, the press has made the small screen look like Bollywood’s poor cousin. TV is at par with, if not better than, movies. I don’t think any film actor can do a daily soap, they can’t it pull off. I am happy being an actor; the medium doesn’t matter to me.
Table No 21 will be your fifth release in five years. Is doing only a few films a choice?
Unfortunately, I have to be choosy because I don’t have options. I would have done one film a month, but of the 10 scripts that I read, eight don’t excite me. As for the other two, the director does not excite me or the producer is a businessman who just wants to make a film. I would rather wait for good films. I can sustain my lifestyle… I don’t want too many houses in Mumbai.
Did you make a list of dos and don’ts after marriage?
My first intimate scene was after marriage in Soundtrack. My wife Manjiri is very chilled out; she believes I am sensible. She takes a lot of pride in being Manjiri — not Rajeev’s wife.
You have an intimate scene with Tena Desae in Table No 21.
Yes. In fact, Tena Desae is a friend. Manjiri is really fond of her, so there are no issues. Strangely, people don’t ask me how my wife reacts when I kick people onscreen in fight sequences. A kick hurts more; lekin kiss karo, toh problem hoti hai!
After two years of marriage, are there any plans of starting a family?
No (laughs). We need to live our life to the fullest before we get into the next phase. We haven’t had enough of each other yet!
You are working with director Aditya Dutt for the second time in Table No 21. How different was this experience from your previous collaboration with him in Will You Marry Me?
That film was released after a year; and once a film becomes stale, you can’t really expect the audience to see it. But Aditya knows his job, he has taken the script to another level. He has risen way above my expectations. Pareshji (Rawal, his co-star in the film) was pleasantly surprised with Aditya’s work.
Aamir director Rajkumar Gupta didn’t cast you in No One Killed Jessica, nor in his forthcoming Ghanchakker...
Rajkumar and I love each other. I will always attribute the success of Aamir to him because it was his execution and vision. The day before Aamir released, we made a pact that we will not work together for the next four films and that we will collaborate only when a script excites us both. He is one of my closest friends; and a regular at my personal parties.