"Once you get popular with kids, nobody can beat your popularity"

Negative Publicity. Whether Tarun Khanna agrees or not, this is how he was born, I mean, this is how he came into the limelight. Well, nothing works better than negative publicity, does it?

Let's recall how. After the tremendous success of Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai, Hrithik Roshan had became the talk of tinsel town. Everyone knew who Hrithik was. His popularity was so intense that it was taken for granted that he was an established star. Film lovers simply loved Hrithik...he was a hunk who could act! Everything was going fine, till a rumour started circulating around that Shah Rukh Khan was feeling insecure with Hrithik around. The media ,of course, just added fuel to the fire. On the Internet, there were virtual battles fought between the HR and the SRK fan community.

Pepsi took advantage of the scenario and came out with a commercial (made by the genius Prahlad Kakkar) in which Shah Rukh poked fun at a Hrithik look-alike who wore braces. Pepsi had done their homework. Hrithik indeed wore braces in his young age. The advertisement generated a huge controversy. No prizes for guessing where Tarun Khanna fitted into this! Overnight, he became a household name as the Hrithik lookalike!

Meet the braces-wearing guy of that (in)famous ad, he is now playing the pivotal role in Kabhi Na Aaye Judaai (Star Plus) and Naam Gum Jayega (Sony).

Excerpts from an interview with Vickey Lalwani.


A little into your background?

Sure. I am a Delhi-ite. I shifted to Mumbai three years ago. Before that, I was into modelling and walking the ramp. I came to Mumbai for more exposure in the glamour world. I modelled for 'Pepsi', 'Hyundai Accent', 'Hero Honda'. 'Raymonds', 'Titan'- to name a few.


And then television happened?

Right. I did my first TV serial- Avinash IPS (Star Plus). The Star Plus guys liked me a lot and offered me a few projects. I rejected many of them, but liked Kabhi Aaye Na Judaai.


Do you agree that the Pepsi controversial ad worked in your favour?

(laughs). Not exactly. Whenever you work with big production houses and big stars, you get noticed. I am sure that if I had worked with Prahlad Kakkar and Shah Rukh Khan even in some other ad, people would still have noticed me. I have a lot of potential and that is bound to work, sooner or later. Avinash IPS used to come on air on Fridays at 11 pm, a time when people just start getting into their weekend 'masti' mode. Still, I received lots of acclaim for that. That clearly signifies that people cancelled or at least postponed their weekend 'masti' to watch me.


How did 'Avinash IPS' happen?

One day, I got a call from UTV office saying Star Plus has recommended your name to us for playing the title role in Avinash IPS. I was thrilled to receive an offer with myself in the title role. How could I refuse? Besides, I saw two good points in that offer. 1) The serial was very popular with kids. Remember, once you get popular with kids, nobody can beat your popularity howsoever hard he may try. 2) The serial required me to indulge in heavy-duty action and I am a black belt in karate.


You said Star Plus offered you many scripts before you accepted 'Kabhi Aaye Na Judaai'. What are your parameters of selection?

I would never consider the length of the role. I would be lying if I say that I don't want to be the main protagonist in every serial I do. But if that does not happen, I would simply ensure that my role is important to the story. There are so many fellas in every serial who are packing material. Even if you chuck them out, the story will move smoothly. I don't want to be one of them.


You are also doing a serial 'Naam Gum Jayega' wherein you play Gauri Pradhan's lover. Expecting some trouble brewing up in that serial, owing to its provocative subject on religion?

Those guys are very intelligent makers. They are balancing everything. Go to see, that serial has won lots of critical acclaim. The story idea of showing how politically inclined people try to realise their ambitions taking advantage of religion, has never been portrayed on television.

"I wanted to play someone like Gabbar Singh of 'Sholay'- a villain without a reason"

A still from Kabhi Aaye Na Judaai

You must be drawn towards movies?

In fact, I am doing two movies. Kuch Kaha Aapne (opposite a newcomer Niloufer) and Kyunki Hum Deewane Hai (opposite Simone Singh). KKA will release by September and KHDH, by the end of this year.


How close are you to the character of Sameer in 'Kabhi Aaye Na Judaai' who gets married to the girl of his parents' choice?

Not at all. I am not the Sameer type of a guy in real life. That's why I took up this role. It is an acid test on my acting skills. Acting should not be what you can do easily. Acting should be getting into the skin of a character who is unlike you. Besides, I have got a big opportunity to express a gamut of emotions in KANJ.



If you recall, Sameer was a negative character to begin with. Later, he transforms into a positive one. So there is a wide array of feelings and expressions I have had to undergo. It has not been easy, but I have learnt and enjoyed every bit of it. Somehow I got the negative character which I was looking out for. I always used to say that if I ever play negative, it should be without a cause. I didn't want to play the Shah Rukh of Baazigar who had a cause for his menacing behaviour. I didn't want to play a guy who is out to avenge his father's death or his mother's rape. I wanted to play someone like Gabbar Singh of Sholay- a villain without a reason.


Are you a spontaneous actor?

Yes, but I do take the method route as well. There are scenes, which are very easy to do- like what we do in our day to day life, etc. There I am spontaneous. But when it comes to scenes where I have to change my personality, I have to do some rehearsals, discuss with my seniors, study the dialogues to introduce timely pauses in between. That's where I turn into a methodical actor. Call me a mixture of both.

Are you particular about what you wear on screen?

It's not in my hands. I want to appear differently at times, but some other people- the channel, the producers, the dress-designers- are the decision makers. But I look at it from the positive side. If you are not wearing what you want to, it can mar your confidence. Inspite of that, if you can leave a mark, then why not? Somehow I love any challenge in life.

Ever goofed up a scene?

Every day, but nothing major really.


How good are you at memorizing lines?

Quite. I have no problems in memorizing lines. But television is quite a flexible medium. At times, nobody minds if we change a few words without diluting the meaning. If I want to say 'main tumhe jaan se maar doonga' and I end up saying 'main tumhe khatam kar doonga', it makes no difference. We need to understand the mood of the scene and convey the message.


How important is the director to you?

Tremendously. Though I repeat that we understand the mood of the scene before conveying the message, sometimes we fail in our effort.

"There are so many fellas in every serial who are packing material.Even if you chuck them out, the story will move smoothly. I don't want to be one of them"

Do you improvise?

Yes. Tell you how. I particularly try to add a few mannerisms into my character, with the passage of time. Else the whole stuff would appear repititive and stale.

Do you refer to the monitor and suggest to the director, if you haven't delivered as per your expectations?

I don't see the monitor at all. I can sense it if I am not going well. I stop in the middle, apologise and request for a re-take.

But what if a senior is with you in the frame? Do you halt in your tracks even then?

See, such a thing happens only once in a while. But if it happens, I wouldn't care if Amitabh Bachchan or Dilip Kumar is in the frame. Is there any sense in going on if I have stuttered or not got into the mood?


How satisfied are you at this point in your career?

At this point, I am breathing free. I am working 26-27 days in a month, twelve to fourteen hours per day. That's not bad, I hope? (smiles).

What else?

I have just done a title track 'Sajjan Bin Dil Na Lage' for a music video with Shweta Shetty.

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