negative roles for the Shaktimaan
Pitamaha', 'Shaktimaan' or 'Mukesh Khanna'. The choice is
yours. Theatre person, sometime movie actor and ultimately
tele star, Khanna has come a long way. Not forgetting he
is also a business man. He spoke at length to 'Nupur Rekhy'
about his talents and business and the two TV personnae
that he has to constantly live out. To which he says: "I
simply love it."
How did 'Mahabharat' and 'Shaktimaan' happen?
I did not believe in destiny but after 'Mahabharat'
I started believing. You see what happened was that when
they were looking for people for the series all they wanted
were tall people so I got noticed for that. They offered
me the role of 'Duryodhana' but it was a negative
role and I refused it. So I got landed with 'Bheeshma
Pitamaha'. The role and the serial were a super success.
Later Doordarshan again wanted to make a serial with me
so 'Shaktimaan' happened. It was entirely my concept
and I had wanted to make a movie of it but then we decided
to make a serial instead.
Why are you so against negative roles?
I will never do negative and weak roles because I feel
I am responsible towards my audience. Morals are very important
to me and I take my roles very seriously and the image I
project even more so. If I do a negative role I believe
I am sending out a clear message to a guy living in a chawl
or 'Rae bareily' that even he can be bad. I strongly feel
that heroes should not do negative roles as people think
that if a hero like xyz can do it why can't he. They can
deny their responsibility towards moral obligations but
I feel that's wrong because 'showbizz or no biz' we all
are answerable for the messages we give out as they have
a strong impact. See even Manmohan Desai offered me a negative
role right after 'Pitamaha' but I just didn't want
to do it, as negativism is not in me. I can't do something
which I don't have the capacity to do, and I anyway want
to come on screen as a strong person.
have a grouse against the film industry. Why?
in this film industry the market value and the saleability
of the actor is what counts. His talent is not an
issue. After my movies flopped there were still so
many to be completed but they were all put on hold
and even now there are some films where only three
or six reels are still left to be completed. What
I say is if you are a good director and you see a
new actor who suits your character you should take
him because you have to make a good movie. A director's
concerns should be only that. But they will sign 20
movies with a hit hero even though he is unfit for
the role and if later the same hero gives flops he
will be dropped from any remaining projects. It's
had a tough time breaking your bearded image. How did you
do it ?
you can bet I did but then again it so sad that in India
an actor gets branded for his whole life. See 'Gufi Paintal'
told me it that I'll never be able to break my 'Pitamaha'
image. When 'Yalgar' was offered to me and I was
to be the father of Feroze Khan I had no problem. If I could
do a 160-year-old then certainly I could become a 65-year-old
father. But it became a joke in the industry as I had not
put on a beard and my 'son' [Feroze Khan] looked 55. And
one thing that I swear I'll never do is a 'bearded role'.
It's very irritating and it's not me. I have refused no
end of offers as they required me to wear a 'daadi'. See
there is nothing wrong with images but it's the repetitive
roles offered that's boring. I need to have an image that
I am comfortable with.
methods do you follow in acting?
believe in copying. I have no expectations and I am a very
serious actor. I don't spend too much time studying but
I need to have the script before hand and I need it all.
I must know what I am doing and that's why when I was offered
serial called 'Krishna' I had asked for the entire
script before I said 'yes'. The people concerned couldn't
digest this so I refused. And I like to act in the language
I am used to as I am big here and this is where I got my
recognition. I am wary of this method acting business. I
don't try and get myself into a depression if the role demands
a depressed character. I totally follow what Sanjeev Kumar
used to say: "That an actor should be like a tap, just switch
on and off when you desire and leave the image for the screen
only." See the body is an instrument. Earlier I used to
study the get-up of Clint Eastwood and I had all these files
made of people I wanted to be like but I learnt that acting
is all about mind resistance. Like at the FTII Naseerudhin
Shah found dancing the most difficult thing to do but he
overcame that just by understanding that if you have resistance
to the character then you can't carry it off well. So basically
I did yoga and got a distinction in the institute. And more
than anything I look honest and honest men become actors.
you done something to improvise your acting skills?
cultivated my voice. I used to speak very fast and sometimes
still do. My brother used to say 'pakode talta hai'. I used
to go to British library and pick books on voice. I did
a lot of exercises to get the depth and level of voice.
But you can only give quantity and not quality as that you
are born with and luckily I was. In Hollywood actors have
such fabulous control over their voice, even a taxi driver
will bring out such variations in his voice that every one
will notice which unfortunately in our industry no one has
not even Amitabh Bachchan or Dilip Kumar though he tried.
We all go till Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, but in Hollywood they go
beyond this and that is one of the reasons their movies
come out to be more natural.
would you say are your achievements?
have achieved the super hero image, which I like and
thus have started my own 'Shaktimaan' merchandising
which no other actor over here has ever done. I have
been featured in Wall Street Journal on the front
page reflecting on my positive influence on children.I
have received letters from the external affairs minister
and the prime minister saying that I have done a very
good thing in choosing the role of 'Shaktimaan'
and keeping up to it. And for the first time in India
there is going to be a new video game called 'shaktimaan'
do you take as your idols?
no idols. I respect Dilip Kumar. See if you consider someone
as your idol then the camera will never let you come out
as yourself. Raaj Kumar used to never take glycerin but
in one of the scenes where we had an extremely emotionally
charged scene I came across so strong that for the first
time even he took glycerin. So I feel my not having any
idol has only helped me as that gives me lot of naturalness.
What is 'Shaktimaan' in real life?
for starters I am not married and not because I do not want
to be. Maybe it is destiny. 'Shaktimaan' does not
smoke or drink or gamble. I never abuse ever, maximum I
say is 'stupid' or 'gaddha' (donkey). I don't believe in
shouting or getting angry. Rather I believe in action. I
am a blue belt in martial arts but generally I don't like
to use it. I have immense respect for women and I always
like the atmosphere around them to be graceful. I am not
aggressive or offensive or insecure maybe because of 'Pitamaha'
as that role gave me tonnes of confidence and yeah I believe
in religion and god.
are the things you have quit doing?
never done anything I never wanted to do. I never do anything,
which will spoil my image, and to quite some extent I have
stopped signing television and movies completely. I have
become a producer and believe in giving. I have even refused
a 'Subhash Ghai' movie. I no more have a secretary as they
are of no use to me. I enjoy acting and choose my roles
very carefully. I don't believe in soap operas and my 'Bheeshm'
production house will never make a 'Hum Paanch'.
I will surely make a Star Wars remake with special effects.
is your trade mark?
carry a scarf as my style but otherwise I am not very particular.
But I do select my own dresses and have my own tailor.
Profile of Mukesh Khanna