Rajeev Khandelwal: I don’t want my films to be predictable

After essaying the intense role of a music jockey in Soundtrack, Rajeev Khandelwal hopes to make an impression as an aimless philanderer in Will You Marry Me?. The actor explains why he wants his every release to be different from the one before

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Even though Rajeev Khandelwal received a warm welcome in Bollywood for a striking performance as an urban Muslim youth in Rajkumar Gupta’s Aamir in 2008, his career has been progressing very slowly, with long pauses between one phase and the next level. In fact, his last film (Soundtrack) was appreciated by everyone who watched it, but it didn’t set the cash registers jingling. Rajeev blames it on inefficient marketing and inadequate publicity and prefers not to dig up the past. Instead, he wants to focus on the future – his next film, Will You Marry Me?, releasing tomorrow.

Contrary to reports, the 30-plus actor isn’t shying away from promoting the film, which co-stars Mugdha Godse, Shreyas Talpade and Muzzamil Ibrahim. Rajeev is actually looking forward to Will You Marry Me?, as it’s his first romantic comedy, a genre that is a hot fave of B-town filmmakers right now. Not only is the genre new for him, but his role in it is also hatke. “During the narration I asked Aditya (Datt, the director) if he was sure he wanted me to play this Casanova-type, ambitionless guy who just loves shortcuts. I am nothing like that in real life. And that’s why I did it,” says the TV-star-turned-film actor.

There have been a number of movies with similar plots about men obsessed with their bachelor days and ways. Remember last year’s Rascals, Thank You, Naughty At 40 and Dil Toh Bachcha Hai Ji? Rajeev agrees and continues, “But when I had heard the narration, I thought this one had a different feel. It’s a story of three guys who are very different and how they evolve. This is one of those films where you don’t have to apply too much of your mind. It’s a fun film, today’s story and very refreshing. Also it’s a cast (Shreyas Talpade, Mugdha Godse, Muzzamil Ibrahim and Rajeev) that you would expect to see on the poster of a film like this, so I thought it would be interesting to do,” says the actor.

Personally, Rajeev is past the bachelorhood phase of life. Last year he said ‘I do’ to his girlfriend of two years, Manjiri Kamtikar. Doesn’t he think he’s a bit old to play a commitment-phobic loverboy onscreen? He laughs, “Should I name people who are still playing loverboys?! If I compare myself to them, I think it’s too early for me to play such characters.” Yet, his role in WYMM seems like a regressive move. Rajeev got noticed for his gritty roles, but in this one he plays a frivolous character, perhaps a hackneyed one, as is usually the case with most such characters in comic capers of this kind.

“When I did Aamir people felt it went against my romantic image acquired from the TV shows. Then I hosted Sach Ka Samna and people said I should stick to films. When I did Shaitan, people questioned me for doing a multi-cast film. But in the end they were all pleasantly surprised that I could do all those things,” says Rajeev and continues, “The idea is to learn. I can easily do an Aamir or a Shaitan or a Soundtrack. I have been appreciated and accepted in these, but I need to keep experimenting. That’s how an actor grows, I guess. The question you should be asking is, ‘How do I manage a Will You Marry Me? after a Soundtrack?’ I am fortunate that I am not being offered Aamirs or Shaitans or Soundtracks again and again. If you look at the three films, you will see that they are all very different. The fun lies in breaking moulds and experimenting. I don’t want my films to be predictable.”

For starters, it’s not usual to see Rajeev in long hair, romancing hot babes in blue waters and singing mushy ballads under the sunny skies. Let’s hope WYMM isn’t as predictable like the rom-coms of recent times and the good-looking actor once more surprises us with his latest experiment.

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