For actor Rajeev Khandelwal, it’s either a ‘yes’ in the first narration of a script or simply a ‘no’. However, he tells Chahak Mittal, that he gave time to decide whether he should work on his forthcoming web series, Coldd Lassi aur Chicken Masala. But it intrigued him and love stories are something he hadn’t done in a long time. And this one was ‘gourmet-licious’
Do you remember the last time you saw actor Rajeev Khandelwal being the protagonist in a love story? Kahin Toh Hoga was the only show you could recall, isn’t it? Well, a role like Sujal Garewal’s certainly was not one to be forgotten. Even after donning a number of versatile hats as an actor, his image of a boy next door has been the most favourite one. And when one watches the trailer of his forthcoming ALTBalaji web series, Coldd Lassi aur Chichen Masala, one can surely recall his similar avatar in his previous such roles.
He tells us that it’s the very reason why he chose this role too. “I am doing a love story after a very long time. I really liked and appreciated how the story was written so powerfully. So when love stories are written well, it’s great fun to work and perform on them. It’s premise was also very different. I really liked how the love story proceeded in the backdrop of food as well as the back and forth of the characters within a span of eight years. Also, because it is a web series, it would come to an end after a certain amount of episodes rather than going on for months on TV,” says the actor, who had initially refused to be part of the show as he found the script to be very “superficial” in its first narration. However, after reading the first four chapters later, he agreed with the “beautifully-written script.”
The show features Rajeev as Vikram, a two-star Michelin chef, who is chef Nitya’s (played by Divyanka Tripathi) senior and ex-lover. The story revolves around the couple as they move back and forth between love and conflict in a ‘gourmet-licious’ world. The two lovers had separated after a tiff eight years ago. And in the present day, as they face each other in the same kitchen again, their past makes a comeback. Nitya’s focus on detailing and perfection makes her look like a stubborn and short-tempered person among her colleagues, whereas, Vikram believes in experimentation and is not very approving of Nitya’s idea of traditionality.
A title like that is, for a fact, intriguing. It certainly generates some level of curiosity among the audience if one hasn’t watched the trailer to know what it actually tries to showcase. Why would a love story be named on a food item and an ingredient after all? Rajeev laughs and says that even he had questioned the same. “When I was told that the title of the series would be Coldd Lassi aur Chicken Masala, I was perplexed. I never expected a love story to be named like that. I thought it would be a very romantic title and something new and different. But then, Ekta (Kapoor) usually has a knack for coming up with very interesting titles. She would always think beyond the clouds and come up with something unique. And then, after going on with it for a few days, I also came to terms with it, especially after knowing the complete script. It’s not just the dishes that we are talking about but also has something to do with the characters. If one person matches with the nature of a cold lassi, the other matches with the chicken masala. Somewhere, you’ll notice it even in the characters too. So I find it apt now.”
There have been a plenty love stories, especially when it comes to shows and a dramatic universe created by Ekta Kapoor, but this one appears like a first of its kind to have been airing under her production. With an interesting and new pairing, the trailer makes it evident that the show would promise an added culinary experience with the right flavours and spices in a love story. One can see Divyanka and Rajeev dealing with everyday issues in a hotel kitchen and the challenges chefs face. However, not even once would one point out that they are not professional cooks. We can see them preparing dishes with the same body language and style sous chefs have. So was there any specific kind of training that went into making the cast look like professional kitchen experts? Absolutely. And Rajeev tells us how. “Not just me and Divyanka, but even the other people in the kitchen were trained under head chefs everyday for some time. We were taught the basics of cooking. We were taught how to hold the butcher’s knife and cut, chop and toss. There was a chef always present on the sets who would point out if we were making mistakes in performing a particular act related to cooking. They would tell us, ‘No, you’re holding it wrong. You should pour the sprinkles like this.’ But of course, the dishes which are shown are not prepared by us. They are just prompts that we use,” he says and adds that even though the story has cooking elements in it, it’s a love story, so a kitchen is just a place.
Rajeev believes that the essence of a love story always remains the same. It’s actually the storytelling that changes the game. He says, “Stories can always be similar or can have similar elements but storytelling is different in every plot. Which is the reason why even two same stories would look different when told through different perspectives.”
Be it Table No. 21, Reporters, Sach Ka Saamna, Aamir, Shaitan or even Soundtrack, Rajeev is known for his roles that have might not been commercially acclaimed, but definitely critically. Talking about how he selects a role and how the approach has changed with time, the actor says that he doesn’t think a lot while making a selection. It just comes to him spontaneously. He tell us, “Nothing has really changed. My approach is still the same. I am very instinctive as a person. If something excites me, I want to do it. I say yes, instantly. I have never had a particular way of picking up my projects. I don’t give them too much of a thought.” All these listed above, he adds, were instinctive decisions. “I have sealed all of my projects with the first meeting itself. If I like it, it’s a yes, and if I don’t, it’s a no. Simple!” However, Shaitan would be out of the list here and even Cold Lassi…, scripts of which, he says, hadn’t convinced him in the first meetings.
Though he always convinces, no matter what. Laughs.
(The show releases on September 3 on ALTBalaji and ZEE5.)
Writer: Chahak Mittal
Courtesy: The Pioneer