Immediately after assuming office, actor-turned-Minister of State for Tourism and Culture Vinod Khanna said in an interview to Sunday Mid Day that he would no longer do films.

But the stand seems to have been reserved. The high-fluing socialite has realised that his goverment salary is simply not enough. I caught up with the actor at the shoot of Pehchan, which is his first acting assignment affffter his new occupation as a minister.

This film is an old commitment I made to director Sharboni Deodhar, which is why I am completing it at the moment. She said that she would scrap the project if I did not act in it. So I took special permission from Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to act in this film. Actually I am very busy and in the midst of taking roadshows abroad and promoting tourism in India, says Khanna who still looks young and fit.

Why is he retiring from films when he can take on the likes of Aamir Khan and Akshaye Khanna today? It is not that I shall stop doing films. I shall be doing films once in a while. I have a lavish lifestyle and I need the money to support that. Only films can provide me with that. My salary as a Member of Parliament is Rs 4,000 and as a minister I get Rs 10,000. That is just not enough. My boys, Akshaye and Rahul, are grown up and can take care themselves, but I have two young children too. That is why I have to do films, saya the actor who proceeds to talk about his role in the film.

In Pehchan, I play a lawyer who tells his daughter-in-law to join him as an assistant in his law firm as his son is not too interested. Her friend, who is married into a political family, is killed and she picks up the case. But the family is my client and I take up their case. So there is a fallout between us and the house breaks apart. It is very interesting subject, he says.

There is another film called Leela, which is ready for release. Dimple Kapadia and I play a couple in the film. There is a new boy called Amol Mhatre in the film who has also done well.It is a very interesting film too, adds Khanna who is now looking at promoting culture and tourism and seems to have done his homework well.

I have to be the liaison between so many ministries now. There are many things, which fall under the purview of culture from caves to temples to many other things. There are so many projects undertaken by the Archeological Survey of India, plus there are other institutions like the Natoonal School of Drama. Under tourism everything from visa to passsport issues come up, apart from the tourism aspect. Since I am well travelled, it helps me in my day-to-day work.

I am looking at promoting spiritual tourism too. India has all the spiritual gurus and people all over the world are interested in that. So it is important that area is tapped. I am also concentrating on the Buddhist circuit, south east Asia apart from Turkey, Yogoslavia and the Russian states, Khanna rattles off with the expertise.

What now? I shall continue doing what I want to. When I wanted to act, I did. When I went off to Rajnish, he was very controversial. Now he is a revered person all over the world. Then I came into politics. I live on my terms, signs off Khanna.


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