Sunday, May 26, 2024

Actor Rajesh Khera explains why Swatantrya Veer Savarkar is not a “propaganda” movie – Exclusive Interview

Written and edited by – Robin Bhuyan

Interviewed by – Shashi Salwani  

If you’ve seen Swatantrya Veer Savarakar whether you loved or hated it, there is one undeniable aspect: the outstanding and realistic performances of the actors. Randeep Hooda’s portrayal of Savarkar was remarkable, while Rajesh Khera’s depiction of Gandhi was equally impressive, making historical characters come alive on screen. Join us in an exclusive interview as we chat with actor Rajesh Khera about his experience working on the film, his career, and some of his perspectives on cinema. 

First of all, we would like to ask you- what is your fitness secret. Because you look extremely fit and about 20 years younger than you are?

First and foremost, I make sure to drink plenty of hot water, regardless of how warm the temperature is. I consider it a grace of God as well, to be blessed with such good genes. I also eat quite simple homemade food and mostly avoid junk food, and exercise on a regular basis. I believe I also have a clean heart and mind, which might be another reason!

How was your experience working in the film Swatantrya Veer Savarkar, where you played the role of MK Gandhi?

I would say that for the first time in my 30-year career, I have received so much appreciation. Playing the role of Gandhiji is not easy! I had to prepare a lot. I spent a lot of time studying the role of Gandhiji played by Ben Kingsley in the Gandhi film which was directed by Richard Attenborough. Director Randeep Hooda also believed that I would need to follow the diet that Gandhi did, if I want to perfectly immerse myself in the role.

How long have you been preparing yourself for the role of Gandhi?

I didn’t get too much time, because it was initially another actor who was playing the role of Gandhi. When I was chosen for the role, I was also a bit nervous, because I felt that a lot of responsibility was on my shoulders now. I was asked to lose a significant amount of weight as well. Although I was shocked, I felt that if we don’t challenge ourselves, there is no joy in living lives. Ben Kingsley’s work in the Gandhi film had a big influence on me, and whenever I was confused, I would think of how Kingsley would play the role.

Why do you think Veer Savarkar is mostly ignored by our history and school textbooks?

This is a really complicated matter, and it is difficult to say why. But the Britishers were quite scared of him, which is why he was sent to Kalapani prison in the first place. The people sent to Kalapani were either hardcore criminals, or political prisoners who had shaken up the British to a large extent. This says a lot about what kind of a revolutionary Savarkar ji was, and people should definitely ask questions about why he is missing from our history books! If they don’t mention him because of his ideology, then that is not a reason to skip him. Because whatever he was, it should be mentioned so!

What is your response to those who claim it is a propaganda movie?

I would ask them – What kind of propaganda? Because the film only shows us what Savarkar’s ideology was. His ideology of Hindutva included everyone who prioritized Hind above anything else, regardless of their religion. Many people troll Savarkar calling him a British puppet, which I find totally wrong. If he was a puppet, they would not torture him the way they did.

Tell us about your experience working with Randeep Hooda.  

I would say that 50 percent of the credit goes to director Randeep Hooda. Playing the young Gandhi was not a problem for me, but playing the older Gandhi was the main problem. Because to match him perfectly, I had to face a lot of struggles, and had to skip food for a long time. When I had to recreate it at the dubbing studio, I would say it was the most difficult thing. In short, it is one of the most difficult roles I have played, and it was due to Randeep’s effort and support, I was able to pull it off!

You have played multiple roles in historical movies and shows, which includes Shaheed, Thakrey, The Verdict, and now Swatantrya Veer Savarkar. Do you consciously choose such movies, or do they come to you naturally?

No, it is not a conscious decision. I like doing all kinds of roles. My last role as a military officer was seen in Gadar 2, where my role was small, but significant. In Bubbly Bouncer, I played a cop, and then there is my role in Satyamev Jayate, where I played an extremely wicked and corrupt cop. I have had my share of negative roles, and maybe I fit easily into them!

As an actor who has appeared in all three mediums – cinema, OTT and television, can you tell us what different challenges did you face in each medium?

Challenges are too many! Today, even getting work has become a challenge for an actor, as there is so much of new talent in the market! First you have to get a good role, then you have to play your part perfectly, and then the project will need to gain attention, and only then, you will stay relevant to the producers and casting directors! So, you can say it is a very difficult world to survive!

What are your thoughts regarding nepotism? 

I would say nepotism is okay nowadays, because even big nepo kids get only one or two chances to prove themselves! If the audiences don’t accept their work, then you will not get many chances! Ultimately you have to prove yourself. You need to prove that you can perform well as an entertainer.

Do you have any favourite co-actor or favourite director?

Yes, but there is so much talent nowadays in Bollywood which makes it hard to name anyone. Among my favorite directors, one is Zoya Akhtar, as I really loved her movie Gully Boy.

Can you tell us about how your role in Satyameva Jayate affected your career, as we really feel it is one of your best works?

I think luck plays a very important role, because I never got any other work from the producer of the film, who is doing so many others movies. Although I did get appreciation from both the director and the producer, they did not include me in any other projects.

Tell us about your upcoming projects.

You must have heard about Rajesh Mapushkar, who has worked alongside Raju Hirani in multiple films as an assistant director. His Marathi film Ventilator had received a lot of appreciation, and I would recommend people to watch the movie! I am working on a film with him. I don’t really plan for the future; I just look for roles that are enjoyable to play!

It was a pleasure talking to you! Thank you!

Thank you!

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