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It happened in the crowded Dongri area where Rajeev Khandelwal shot his debut film Aamir with hidden cameras hoping he won't be recognized. Unfortunately, a female fan jumped out of the crowd and accosted Rajiv when she recognized him as Sujal from the Ekta Kapoor soap Kahiin To Hoga.
"We were shooting on the road in Dongri where I had to run across the street. And there couldn't be a re-take for obvious reasons. Suddenly this woman spotted me from a taxi. She stopped her vehicle mid-street got out and started screaming my name. The camera was rolling. I told her I needed to cross the street before the lights changed from red to green. She wouldn't listen. So I gently pushed her hands away and crossed as per script. That shot of the woman stopping me is in the film. "
Many times as we see Rajiv talking into the phone in Aamir it's actually the director instructing the actor rather than the character being instructed by people in the plot. "It was a great challenge. We shot for 28 days on the streets of Mumbai. Except a shot in an airport washroom everything has been shot outdoors in some of the most congested areas of Mumbai. We first tried shooting with normal cameras. But that didn't work. Coming from television when people in Dharavi and Dongri saw cameras pointing at me, they immediately recognized me."
Rajeev says he felt much more comfortable facing the movie camera than television. "The minute I heard the script I loved the sound of it. The idea of my character roaming anxiously in crowded areas of Mumbai taking instructions on the phone from mysterious people really caught my attention. But it's not a copy of the Hollywood film Cellular. People jumped to the conclusion when they saw running helter-skelter me with a cellphone in hand."
In real life Rajeev loses his phone more frequently than his temper. "I lost my phone last month. Then again last week I dropped it on the beach and lost the phone and all my numbers at a time when I need to invite all my friends and associates for my premiere."
So far his movie debut has been smooth. "My most cherished moment was when Hema Maliniji after seeing Aamir said, 'Welcome To The Film Fraternity.' I don't think of the hurdles. Yes, Sarkar Raj is also coming with me. So what? The minute you stop focusing on the finishing line and start looking around you are finished."