Gaurav Chanana became a household name as Dr. Rahul Mehra in the very popular soap Sanjivani. He then disappeared suddenly from the soap.
7 years later Gaurav is back, this time as Rhehan Malliek playing Preity Zinta's soul-mate in her Parisian love story Ishqk In Paris.
Contrary to speculation as to how desperately Gaurav has been trying to hide his earlier identity as a television star, he actually speaks fondly of those days when he was addressed as the character he played in the TRP-topping soap.
"It was a heady success. I was suddenly recognized wherever I went. But soon I realized this is not what I wanted. It was films that attracted me. So I wrapped up my work on Sanjivani and headed to Bollywood with no godfather, only a God above and my father back home in Delhi."
Gaurav, now Rhehan admits it was a tough struggle to keep afloat. "That period when I have up television was not kind to me. Back then television actors were not accepted on celluloid as comfortably as they are now. I had to make concerte efforts to avoid the temptation to return to television. I saw actors who came after me on television whiz past me in expensive cars. I was left in a financial crisis. And I had to constantly remind myself that television is not where I wanted to be, no matter what the price."
Rhehan's big-screen aspirations fell flat when he did a few dud films. "I had no one to guide me. And no queue of producers on my doorstep. I did what I could. When Prem Soni (the director of Ishkq In Paris) came forward with the offer that I do his film I couldn't believe my luck. Why me opposite a huge star like Preity? And mind you, this was not a supporting role. It's the lead in a love story. So I knew we would be together in most of the film."
Preity, gushes the aspiring movie star, never made him feel small. "She is a very experienced actress and a formidable star. I'm known only on television. But she never made me feel like a junior. From the start she treated me as her equal. And her logic was simple and disarming. When she started in Mani Ratnam's Dil Se, Shah Rukh Khan and Manisha Koirala who were huge stars, made her feel at home. I am eternally grateful to the three 'P's in my life...Preity, Prem and Paris for giving me this opportunity."
Rhehan admits he is excited and nervous. "Why shouldn't I be? I gave up television years ago to pursue my celluloid dream. The transition period has been long and painful. I have changed in appearance. And even my name is different."
About converting from Gaurav Chanana to Rhehan Malliek, the actor says, "Actually my Taayaji (uncle) did it first. He changed his surname from 'Chanana' to 'Malliek'. My new name is my small homage to my Taayaji. I didn't want to be known as a Khan or Kapoor. We've enough of those in the film industry."
Watch Promo: Ishkq In Paris
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