Here’s Why Shaktimaan aka Mukesh Khanna Trolls Sonakshi Sinha & Ekta Kapoor So Poorly

Here’s Why Shaktimaan aka Mukesh Khanna Trolls Sonakshi Sinha & Ekta Kapoor So Poorly

With the re-telecast of Ramayan on DD National, everyone is filled with joy. One of them is actor-producer Mukesh Khanna. Yes, the one we all know as Shaktimaan. The actor also played the role of Bhishmapitamah in the classic show Mahabharat.

In an exclusive interview with ETimes TV, he opened up about how during this lockdown the rerun of such shows has come as a blessing in disguise for younger generation as they will get a chance to connect with the culture. He also revealed some unknown facts about the show and attacked Ekta Kapoor for making a joke of Mahabharat. He went on to say that daily soaps have polluted the minds of TV viewers and that these reruns will help people like Sonakshi Sinha who have no knowledge about mythology.

Here are some excerpts from the interview.

On rerun of Ramayan and Mahabharat

“I think the reruns will be useful to many who haven’t watched the show earlier. It will also help people like Sonakshi Sinha who have no knowledge about our mythological sagas. People like her don’t know who did lord Hunuman get Sanjivani for. There is a video doing the rounds where few boys are asked whose Mama (uncle) was Kans and they got scared to answer. Some said Duryodhan, others said something else, so they are not aware of the mythology. Today’s generation is too much exposed to other things. They are exposed to saas bahu saga, Tiktok videos, western culture and they are diverted from Indian roots. They don’t have time or they don’t even bother to know about our history, spirituality or mythology. Plus there are so many other mediums that have killed television completely. Now, they have access to so many things that they have not got into the habit of watching TV. All this has made us progressive, but we have become less emotional and has taken away the kids from sitting with parents, spending time and watching television. Today’s generation is born with mobile phones. Now, the reruns will actually reboot their minds and will tell them that the things they have been watching in films, in saas-bahu sagas is not Indian culture. These shows will take them back to our roots.”

Daily soaps have polluted viewer’s minds and it’s time to sanitize it

“I am happy that the reruns of Ramayan and Mahabharat are happening because I feel these daily soaps have polluted the minds and now it is the time to sanitize it. I don’t think the women who are shown in these daily soaps belong to my or our country. To understand what our women are made of and what they are exactly watch Ramayan and Mahabharat. I am going to say something which might hurt many and they might feel I am wrong, but there was a time when TV took over Radio, and now 24 hours news channels and online news have taken over newspapers. Similarly, saas bahu shows have killed the good bi-weekly shows, they want to watch this drama Monday to Saturday. I won’t blame Ekta Kapoor entirely. When she made Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, 30 similar shows featuring saas bahu got made. And I am sorry to say the women which she shows we don’t see in real-life. Her shows or these saas bahu shows have women sleeping in designer saris, loud makeup and heavy jewellery and then waking up in it. I don’t see such women around me.”

About requesting the makers of Pyaar Ka Dard Hai, to kill his character in the show

“I noticed this and I realised this while I was working on Pyaar Ka Dard Hai Meetha Meetha Pyara Pyara, that was the only show I did for two and a half-years. I requested them, please kill my character, I can’t do this every day. While shooting I used to stand for my shot in between with other artist around me, and I used to end up waiting till the time other actors are not ready. Post that show I never took up any daily soap. The actress, who played my daughter Avantika (Mansi Salvi) and some other actress they used to be always busy choosing their saris. I often told them what were they doing. They used to reply that sir these things don’t bother you but it matters to us. I didn’t understand at that time, but later when I went to meet my sister in Delhi she asked me about Mansi’s designer saris and look. She praised her and I asked her you do watch the show for saris? I understand there is a certain kind of audience, but where is the story.”

Lack of good content

“Just forget about Ramayan and Mahabharat, take an example of Buniyaad, Dekh Bhai Dekh, Nukkad these shows were not related to mythology but even they had good content. Look at the story, the making, performances, they still look fresh. But today nobody has time to watch. First it was about test matches, then they started playing 50 overs, now they have reduced that and started playing 20-20. Now, we are not far enough when the results will be decided on who won the toss. So, yes I feel saas bahu sagas have played an important role in destroying the TV watching generation. There is a lack of good content on TV. I am not against women being shown in daily soaps but the way they are presented. You see any serial now-a-days, you will see 1 man between 6-7 ladies and he stands like a furniture. I had promised that whenever I make a show I will have a male star cast with women in important roles. I made a show called Sautela for Doordarshan.”

There used to be curfew on roads during Mahabharat and Ramayan telecast on TV, and same is happening again

“I had never dreamt that this day will come when you will be forced to sit at home and you will not be allowed to go out. I always wanted this generation to watch Ramayan and Mahabharat and due to the lockdown this is finally happening. This was destined. Coronavirus has shaken the entire world, economy and everyone is now forced to be at home. I really appreciate our PM’s efforts that he enforced this lockdown of 21 days. This has led to curfew like situation and now the best of 80-90s shows, the classic are being played. I insisted and called up the CEO of Prasar Bharti and shared with him that people on twitter and other social media platforms are writing that they want to watch the rerun of Shaktimaan too. Earlier, when Mahabharat and Ramayan played on TV there used to be curfew on roads and now it is happening again. Today, everyone in the house have different choices, but that time everyone used to come together to watch Ramayan and Mahabharat. This is a kind of miracle that people are again watching Ramayan.”

“I never liked Ramayan”

“I would like to confess that I never liked the TV show, Ramayan. It was like I belonged to BJP and Ramayan was Congress. Whenever I watched the show, I felt why has Ramanand Sagar made such a slow show. I used to like watching Mahabharat because it was fast paced. I recently started watching Ramayan and I was literally floored away with the way it was made. After every scene, there was Ravindra Jain’s song, a chaupai. It was so pleasant to watch and I had tears in my eyes during few scenes. I have started watching Ramayan and have liked it. Arun Govil as Ram has done a fantastic job, unhone ek smile pakdi aur usko end tak nahi choda. He continued that smile throughout his performance and people actually worshiped him as Ram. Sita too looked divine and serene. Bharat, Janak and Dashrath the entire cast fits the bill and have played their part well.”

People performed aarti before Ramayan used to go on-air

“Both got independent viewing as we came after Ramayan got over. I used to initially complain kya itna slow slow and I felt they were unnecessary dragging it. But now, when I am watching it again I feel the difference between Ramayan and Mahabharat is Ramayan is an emotional subject. Mahabharat is all about tempo. But now, I have realised my mistake and I feel he took pain in showing small small details. Jaise ke darpan kaise kiya jaata hai… they showed the entire rituals. That’s the reason people performed arti before the show went on-air. People used to walk to another village to watch Mahabharat. Now, I am watching both together.”

Ekta Kapoor made a mockery of Mahabharat

“Ekta Kapoor took Ronit Roy to play Bhishmapitama and they were flaunting six-pack abs, she took popular heroines to play Draupadi and other female characters. I did 15 films before bagging the role of Bhishmapitamah. I had given a proper look test wearing a beard and proper mustache, we were selected on the basis of our audition and they were elected and that’s why they did not look the character. The irony of my life is when I was young I played Bhishmapitamah and enacted Shaktimaan’s role later in my career. I feel age is just a number and your face is what can make anyone believe what age you are. I strongly believe that girls and actors should not be asked about their age. I played the role of Bhishmapitamah a 160 year old man when I was young and later when I become more mature I did Shaktimaan. You will be surprised to know I got a call from Ekta Kapoor’s production house for Mahabharat and they offered me to play the role of Shantanu (Bhishmapitamah’s father) I told do you really think I will do Shantanu after playing Bhishmah…She made a mockery of Mahabharat. She took all the daily soap actors and tried to make Mahabharat. They are flaunting tattoo. If you want to make Mahabharat rise about it and don’t try to ape it. Ekta must be very angry with me because I have spoken about a lot about the kind of content she makes. But I am against the way she projects women in her daily soaps.”

Vinod Khanna once told me- “Mukesh you got the cream of Mahabharat

“I played lead roles in 15 films before bagging the role of Bhishmapitamah. The other actors were strugglers when Mahabharat was made, except for Nazneen who played Kunti but Arjun, Duryodhan, etc. She had acted in films. I had got a call from Gufi Paintal that they were making Mahabharat and they needed men with good physique and personality. I said yes absolutely this is my pet subject. I had read Mahabharat a lot, I don’t think anyone else from the BR camp must have read. Mahabharat is not like Ramayan, you don’t keep it in your house. When I did it I knew what I was going to be a part of. When I signed the show, I told Chopra sir which I did not tell to any of my producer’s that thanks for making me a part of Mahabharat. He offered me the role of Duryodhan, but I ended up playing Bhishma. I always had faith in Mahabharat’s success. I wanted to play Arjun, but that role was already taken and though I didn’t want to play Bhishma I ended up doing it. Now, I feel it was the best role of my career. Once Vinod Khanna was with me in a lift in Bangalore and he told me that you got the cream of Mahabharat. I did that show for two years and first bought a Maruti car and then Contessa.”

Got a year to work on his body for Bhishmapitama

“I got a year to work on my body. Initially, there was a plan of bringing Mahabharat and Ramayan together, but later it was decided that Ramayan will be aired first as bringing two epic sagas together won’t be a good idea. We had even got selected for our roles. I joined gym for a year to work on my physique. I remember the show was so successful that once a TC allowed us (Gufi paintal and me) to travel in a train without ticket from Lucknow to Mumbai as we had missed our flight. There was a couple who even commented that they will allow Bhishmapitamah to sit but won’t give a seat to Shakuni (laughs). So they were this attached to us and our characters.”

Once Arjun (Firoz Khan) complained BR Chopra that I get more lines

“People used to watch Mahabharat together on Sunday and we used to start getting calls on Monday. People called from different places to shower their love and praise us. Rahi Masoom Raza, the writer of the show used to call and praise my acting. But I always told him that it was his writing and our combined effort. We shared a great bonding and rapport. He always told me that when he wrote dialogues for me, his pen automatically used to start running, but when it was for some other actor, like Arjun he used to struggle. In fact, I used to get lengthy dialogues and this had upset Firoz Khan who played Arjun. He had reached BR Chopra’s house to complain about the same. It became a responsibility for all us when we were playing our roles as we used to get feedback from people. Nobody, can create the same Mahabharat again, even I would not be able to play that part again.”

Shaktimaan didn’t have great visual effects, but had a good story

“We shot the entire show in FilmCity and we had a fully air-conditioned set. It was one of the first full air-conditioned set. We shot for two years there and we had make-up rooms upstairs and down was our set. Yes, definitely today things have become easy because of VFX, but in those days there were visual effects. So, if they had to show that mere body mein 50 teer (arrows) lage hain, they shot for 50 times and I had to give expressions that many times. Whatever, we did in during that time is commendable. I would also like to mention, VFX can’t change the destiny of the film, Shah Rukh Khan’s Ra-one had best of visual effects, but it failed to work, because it lacked good content. There are so many mythological shows being made like Prithvi Vallabh, Aarambh and the makers are spending money, but they are not working on the content, the story which is most important. Shaktimaan did not have great visual effects. If you go to compare the visual effects with any other show, we will look immature, but we had a great story. People used to love watching it because they could relate to it and kids enjoyed it. We had a message at the end of the show, every time.”

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