Vinod Khanna From grease-paint to war-paint  

Vinod Khanna has played many roles over the years. But none could be more challeging than playing the title role in Shoorveer Maharana Pratap. Currently airing on DD, the serial marks Vinod Khanna's debut. Neelam Gupta caught up with tje film star-turned-sanyasi-turned-filmstar-turned-politician to get his reactions.

Vinod Khanna is never without surprises. From the time when, at the peak of his career, he denounced everything, took up sanyas, to his comeback, his successful return to films to becoming a politician, Vinod Khanna has kept everyone guessing. Taken in that light, his decision to appear on small screen as Shoorveer Maharana Pratap is hardly surprising. 'I had been offered many roles on television but Maharana Pratap's role kept propping up very often. I always found his character very fascinating and wanted to play the role. Maybe I was even fated to play the role,' says he. And now that Vinod Khanna has become a full-time politician, what better way to reach out to the people than through the role of a brave,dedicated patriot on TV.

Vinod, of course,is the first to deny that he had any ulterior, hidden agenda in accepting a national,figure role for his TV debut. He maintains that he doesn't need filmic props to establish himself as a serious, commited politician. 'If I was taking recourse to TV to establish myself, how ould I have defeated my rival in Gurdaspur at a time when I wasn't even acting in films,' he questions.

Vinod maintains that the role was offered to him some 10 years back by N.D. Kothari and he has been fascinated with the character ever since. ' It is merely co-incidental that the project took off only after I entered politics. Politics or no politics, I would have still done the serial, 'he says. The clinching argument: ' Maharana Pratap may inspire my patriotism to greater heights but he cannot promote my political career'.

Point accepted for now, but wouldn't he agree that his entry into television will be construed as a 'step down' by many. Again, and predictably, Vinod Khanna beg to differ. Vinod insists that his large-than-life image is a 'media thing'. He says that the people of his constituency are proud of the fact that he is playing a national hero on TV. They wouldn't have it otherwise, he maintains.

And, of course, he is not open to any other television role. That is besides the fact that he himself is turning a TV producer with a serial inspired by ABC's hit medi-serial,ER. The serial is to be directed by Rishi Talwar.

There was a cliche in the '80s that when you didn't find anyone else for a role,there always was Vinod Khanna. He is not known to have let down his producers, ever. With a professional attitude like that,it comes as no surprise that Vinod plans to do most of his stunts himself. At that includes cladding himself in heavy, weighing up to 40 kgs,and horse-riding, of course.

There will he a little bit of camouflaging when Vinod Khanna rides horse-back, but for most part he will have to lug the enormous weight around when he plays the nationalistic hero. Vinod Khanna says that shouldn't cause too much problems because he has kept himself reasonably fit over the years.

The ones pleased as punch with their star's 'professionalism
' are the producers of the serial. They can't gloat enough about his complete lack of airs on the sets. Vinod Khanna is quick to explain. 'I may expect decent staying arrangements and transportation, but that's all. I was never the one to threw tantrums on my sets. So why now? he asks.

Vinod is also quick to assure you that he plans to see the serial through to the very end. But for unforseen circumstances, he plans to honour every shooting committment. ' Unless something urgent and sudden, like party whip happens, I will stick to my dates. This project, with its expensive location shoots, is too expensive to mount, and the producers wouldn't be able to bear such losses,' he says.



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