From engineering to item songs, this man does it all. And, he just happens to be Ekta Kapoor's blue-eyed boy. Meet Eijaz Khan, formerly Kavya of Kkavyanjali, and currently Kunal of Kya Hoga Nimmo Ka.
A teenage heartthrob, Eijaz has major plans up his sleeve. Srabanti Chakrabarti met him for the details. Excerpts:
From an engineer to an actor -- how did the transformation happen?
Television was the last thing on my mind when I was studying. I come from a broken family (his parents were separated) and was very close to an Anglo-Indian family. I couldn't speak Hindi properly! Somehow, egged by my friends, I ventured into modelling and achieved some success. I started getting interested in the profession and moved on to act in ad films and music videos. And before I could realise, I got a chance in feature films! (Kuchh Na Kaho and Zameen). Both these films had two hit songs, where I had a major role to play. Specially Dilli Ki Sardi from Zameen (performed with Amrita Arora) rocked the nation. I started getting more and more offers and took up acting as a career.
During the shooting of Maine Dil Tujhko Diya, I broke my shoulder badly. Just when I was recuperating from my injury I fell down and again and hurt the same shoulder! I thought this was the end of my career because a bad shoulder would mean restricted movements -- the worst thing to happen to a dancer.
That must have been quite a shock. How did you recover?
From my childhood, I have been struggling, so I guess that helped. When I had my second injury, I was just 25, and weighed 73 kgs. Everything was perfect but for my shoulder. The doctor told me dancing was ruled out. People almost wrote me off. That is what made my grit stronger. The break I was forced to take helped me regain my confidence. I did a lot of reading on how to recover from shoulder injuries, and rediscovered a number of good movies.
How did you venture into television from there?
After my break, when I was almost ok, I decided to walk in to the Balaji Telefilms office one day and submitted my portfolio. Just when I was coming out, Ekta noticed me and immediately offered me an exclusive contract. There was no way I could say no. And thus began Eijaz Khan's tele-journey.
I started working in Kahin To Hoga first and slowly Kesar, Kusum, Koi Dil Mein Hai ... offers started pouring in one after the other. But I must give the real credit to Kkavyanjali. That was a dream role for me and it gave me a name, fame everything.
But you were not the first choice for Kkavyanjali...
Yes, and the whole nation knows it. When Kkavyanjali
was launched, Rakshak Sawhney was playing the lead role. Unfortunately, he couldn't sustain it, he was too raw. The rest is history. My portrayal of Kavya became so popular that despite the serial getting over, people still call me Kavya.
Not sure whether you know this or not, but even for Kya Hoga Nimmo Ka, I was the second choice -- after Hiten Tejwani. For me, as long as I am doing a good role, this doesn't really matter.
You are a popular telestar now, how do you rate yourself as an actor?
I get bored very fast, so every few months I want to do something new. Believe it or not that is the source for inspiration!
How has the experience with Kya Hoga Nimmo Ka been?
Fantastic! When the serial started, it was a romantic comedy and now it has transformed into a high-voltage drama. Earlier, I was on a contractual marriage with Nimmo (Sanjeeda) and now the track is about my new marriage with Natassha (Jeniffer). But I realise my real love is Nimmo.
The experience of working with so many veterans (Dolly Thakore, Dara Singh and Bharti Achrekar) has been fantastic and I have learned a lot from them. Since this was my first serial on Star One, I was a bit tense. But once I started getting good feedback from friends and well wishers, I knew I was on the right track.
There are rumours about a strained relationship between you and Sanjeeda
Hey, this is an old story now! We are good co-stars and nothing else. I guess we came from different backgrounds and Sanjeeda is a new kid on the block. Having worked in South Indian films before, she did not know how things happened in Mumbai. Sometimes I concentrate so deeply on my work that I end up hurting a lot of people. Now things are much better and Inshallah, our pair has been a big hit on-screen.
You are known to be a lady-killer. Any memorable incident with your innumerable female fans?
Good to know that, but we get so little time outside of shooting schedules that we can't realise or experience it. A few days ago, I went for a function and was surrounded by a group of young girls. They had a request -- all of them wanted to kiss me. I said, 'no problem, carry on! '
I have a crazy fan in the UK who knows almost everything about me. The other day she SMSed me the addresses of both my houses! I don't think even Balaji production executives know it!
There are rumours of you working in an Indo-Pak venture with Ekta?
I believe in speaking to the media once something starts and stabilises. In our industry projects get cancelled even at the 11th hour. And thus till the time something actually happens, I'm not going to tell you anything. I like to talk about my work whenever the show is on air and my character is popular. So you need to wait for some more time!